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Core Web Vitals & How to Prepare for the Google Update

In this episode, we’re talking about Core Web Vitals with Noah Lamson. Noah is our go-to guy for technical SEO. Google recently announced a new ranking signal, Core Web Vitals. This signal is going to place more emphasis on the importance of user experience, mobile responsiveness, and quality content. The update is expected to go live in 2021. Listen for practical insights on how to prepare your website for the update.

Time Stamps:

  • 00:00 - Intro
  • 02:06 - Overview of Google Core Web Vitals.
  • 05:20 - What Google Core Web Vitals look at, specifically.
  • 10:03 - How to prepare your website for this update.

Resources Mentioned:

Find more marketing insights and show notes here


Intro: You're listening to the foremost media marketing chat podcast with John Ballard and Evan Facinger.

Evan Facinger: All right everyone, thank you for joining us on another Foremost Media Marketing Chat podcast. I'm Evan Facinger, and as always, we've got Jon Ballard here.

Jon Ballard: Hey, what's up Evan. I'm on mute.

Evan Facinger: This is a great opportunity right now to discuss how we don't edit these podcasts, so you can enjoy that in the beginning of the episode.

Jon Ballard: You're getting the raw version, but I think it adds a little value when you hear all of what we're thinking instead of just parts, so there you go.

Evan Facinger: It's completely unfiltered. And speaking of unfiltered, we've got a really special guest with us today, Noah Lamson, also of Foremost Media. Noah, how are you?

Noah Lamson: Howdy. Yeah, I'm doing good, good. Nice to be with you guys.

Evan Facinger: Yeah, and we're excited to have you, because we wanted to have you on to really dive into the somewhat still recent announcement that Google made where they're going to start using Google's Core Web Vitals as ranking signals now for Google.

Jon Ballard: Yeah, so just a little background on Noah, he's been with us four or five years, and been in the industry, I don't know what, 15, Noah?

Noah Lamson: Pushing 20.

Jon Ballard: 20, all right. Back when he was 12 he started. But anyway, he's really taken to the technical side of SEO and he's really one of our go-to resources for technical SEO when you have something that the crawlers are blocking you or just something wrong technically, he's usually the guy that figures it out here. Happy to have him aboard and happy to have him on the podcast.

Noah Lamson: Sounds good.

Evan Facinger: And I'm excited to learn more about and having you explain a little bit more about the Google Core Web Vitals. If you could break it down, just real high level overview, how would you describe that?

Noah Lamson: Sure, sure. We know that Google is focusing on mobile first and part of what we need from mobile is a fast experience. We need to have, as users viewing websites, the webpages need to come down in a snap or else we lose interest. They need to be mobile friendly. We all need to know that they need to be secure and safe to be on. Google will be now measuring what they're calling Core Web Vitals so that the websites match a very good user experience. Their thought is they want to present the best websites that match their searches. They want to send people to the best of the best of the best and content is a huge thing, but also the presentation and how it works on the phone.

Evan Facinger: Yeah, and Google has been, you've kind of been noticing that throughout the years where they're really trying to place more of an emphasis on improving the web as a whole. That's why you also see an emphasis put on security with having SSLs as part of their algorithm, but also what Chrome is doing with warming visitors that are on sites that aren't secure. And then also, even back a few years ago, where responsive became a factor that they were paying attention to. I think you start to see this kind of continued push that Google really wants to have the web be a better place with better websites and then trying to emphasize and prioritize that.

Evan Facinger: I'd like to hear your take, Noah, here on the Core Web Vitals. How do you feel that they are going to lead to an improvement? Do you think it's too much, too little, only takes into a little bit of consideration? What are your thoughts there?

Noah Lamson: Sure. I like it, and it's interesting, you mentioned over time we've talked about SSLs and responsive design and this kind of puts it all in one bucket to ensure that full quality experience for the user. I think there is definitely something to be said with it. It's very good not only for the search engine ranking, but yes, for the people coming to your website. There's a statistic that says that if your page load time increases from one second to three seconds your bounce rates increase 32%. That little extra speed is going to keep people on your website longer and less likely to leave within the first second of that loading.

Evan Facinger: Yeah, and they're making those decisions in split seconds, so it really does come down to small incremental increases like that. I've seen the same studies proven their increase on conversion rates as you increase the speed of the site as well. If we're breaking down the Core Web Vitals, what is that, I guess, looking at specifically?

Noah Lamson: Sure. There are three metrics that they're really looking at and that is what they call LCP, FID, and CLS. LCP is related to the largest contextual page and it measures that loading performance. They want to make sure that the first piece of media that you see on a page occurs within 2.5 seconds of that page starting to load. That first logo that you see on the page or that first main image, that needs to be quick. First input delay, FID, measures the interactivity. What interactivity means is the time that it takes for the page to become interactive where I can click on something or I can scroll down. What that would relate to is do we have a java script hanging on the webpage and it's not allowing things to move smoothly. The last one is CLS and this kind of gets back into responsive design and making sure that the cumulative layout shift, what CLS stands for, is making for a good user experience, so the page is loaded up and it's usable, you don't have to pinch in and pinch out and the page doesn't go left or right as you're wiggling your finger down your screen.

Jon Ballard: Yeah, when I first read about this coming out it basically said mobile friendliness, safe browsing, security, https, and I'm thinking, my god, they've been measuring some of that for years. But, it seems like to me, this is really a more weighted shift into these are the specific things we need, so they're saying and reinforcing https is important in how it loads and interacts, and mobile is important and we're going to give more weight to that. Is that kind of how you understand it Noah, I mean, because some of this isn't really necessarily new, in my opinion, but it seems like they're really putting a lot more emphasis on this and maybe weighted the algorithm heavier to ensure that.

Noah Lamson: Yeah, it's enforcing that they're, and I would imagine from Google's point, they're trying to reinforce that their search results are the best. By having this next ranking system come into the mix, they're guaranteeing their visitors the best user experiences.

Jon Ballard: As web design company I was kind of excited to see more emphasis on this, because it still drives me nuts when we see some of these old, really old sites that have just been up there a long time, and they have a ton of good information on them, but they're just not mobile friendly or they're just really not performing really, but just because they have so much content, so much back links, seem to be hard to move out of position one or two. I think this is going to change some of that and force some companies to really rethink is our website from 1994 still valid. That's my hope anyway.

Evan Facinger: I think it's interesting because it's not common that Google makes an announcement prior to them changing their algorithm and changing what they're considering a ranking factor, and this was announced, I want to say, last month now, and I believe it's slated to go into effect early next year, so early 2021. Is that right?

Noah Lamson: Yes, yes it is. I think that delay of time, these are some larger technical processes that need to happen. There is going to be a lot of involvement with developers to ensure the websites meet this criteria. It's going to take work with hosting and servers to increase speeds, and such. It's nice of Google to give us this heads up for a while so that we can, as people that are running websites and hosts for others, that we get this right before it goes into play.

Evan Facinger: Right, and we've been actively working with all of our customers to make sure that we're going to benefit from this as opposed to be hurt by this change. What should somebody do if they're running a website right now in preparation for this change Noah?

Noah Lamson: I think it's best right now to work with your web development team and start assessing where the big spots are that you need to address. There's software like GTmetrix, if you go to that website you can search, put your website address in their generator and get a great list of the problems that you're having on your website, and then you can work back from there with your web developers to solve some of those. Oftentimes, these issues can be resolved pretty quickly, especially if we're dealing with images and image sizes to get the file size and page weights down. But, like I said, there is great software out there. GTmetrix is one that we use that we like that gives really good detailed information on your site's issues and how to fix it.

Evan Facinger: Yeah, that's a great one, and I wouldn't wait any longer for running that and actually looking at it, because site speed is important now, it's not just waiting for this change and being prepared for that. There's always going to be things you can do to help improve the site speed. Another one that I think could be helpful too is Lighthouse report from Google where you can actually break that down. It's going to show you some of those metrics that they're paying attention to and tell you if you have any of that cumulative layout shift issues or if your First Contentful Paint, what that load time looks like, so you can know what you have to do there. There are a lot of resources out there. Of course, you can always contact us too, we're happy to run that analysis and have those discussions too, but certainly, on your own there are things you can do and look up.

Evan Facinger: If you were to leave everybody here with just a couple points of emphasis on the Core Web Vitals, what would you leave them with Noah?

Noah Lamson: I think the important part here is Google is trying, as I've said before, Google is trying to make their results the best by having the best content-driven websites and the best websites that are going to work on any device. I think the thing to take away from that is to really respect that for your own website and your own user experience with your visitors. Google says that out of a million page impressions that they found when the sites meet these Core Web Vitals requirements, they're at least 24% less likely to abandon the page before it finishes loading, so if you can increase these vitals and get a speedier site, one that renders better, you're going to keep more customers. It's an obvious thing for Google to request and it's an obvious thing that I think you should expect of your own website.

Evan Facinger: Yeah, and your users are expecting it too. So, as you're making Google happier, and helpful increasing your rankings by following what they're wanting you to do, you're also getting happier users on your website that should lead to better conversions and better overall leads for you.

Noah Lamson: Yeah, it's a win-win, for sure.

Evan Facinger: Exactly. Well, this is great. We'll, of course, put everything, all this information in the show notes, some of the links to the different tools as well that you can take a look at for assistance. I appreciate you coming on, Noah, and chatting us about it. Jon, anything that you'd want to add, or any additional questions?

Jon Ballard: You know, I think one of the things I always am amazed by is when we pick up a new website to do search engine work on from another company sometimes, and sometimes these are really professional and well known companies and I'm amazed at how few web developers take the time to really compress images, and it's not just making them small in Photoshop, Photoshop leaves all sorts of existing additional information in there, there are tools you can use to really strip some of that down, and just making that little change can influence stuff so much. If you wanted just a quick tip, maybe start looking at your compression on your images in preparation for this, and we can help you with some of the more technical stuff as well.

Evan Facinger: Great. Well, that's a wrap. The train's coming in, so that's our sign. Thanks everybody for listening. Noah, thanks for coming on.

Noah Lamson: You bet.

Evan Facinger: As always, the information is in the show notes at foremostmedia.com.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the Foremost Media Marketing Chat podcast. Don't forget to like and subscribe so you can stay on top of your game by never missing an episode. You can find even more marketing insights and show transcripts at foremostmedia.com.