We are now well into the journey of Google's page algorithm update focused on Core Web Vitals.
Adido’s Head of SEO, Tom Crewe shared his wisdom back in February in a Search Engine Land article. He advised how SEOs and site owners should be taking action, to minimise the impact of the Page Experience Update on your website performance.
In this article, we summarise his most essential pieces of advice. If you haven’t addressed these issues yet, you should definitely have them on your radar.
What are Core Web Vitals (CWV)?
Hopefully CWV isn’t a new concept for you, but just in case you need a reminder, Core Web Vitals are a set of metrics used to measure a website’s loading, interactivity and visual stability. All three are related to site speed in one way or another, which is something we know has been important for both search engines and users for a very long time.
SEO specialists have been given the exact metrics they need to measure and improve, and the date the updates happen. To have information from Google in advance of an update rarely happens, so on this occasion its been easier for SEOs to act accordingly, and minimise the impact to your search traffic before the update happens.
To bring you up to speed, in case this topic has passed you by so far this year, the metrics that need to be analysed in a Core Web Vitals audit:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures loading performance (i.e., how long it takes for the largest item in the viewport to load).
- First Input Delay (FID) measures interactivity (i.e., how long it takes for the website to respond when a user clicks on something).
- “Total Blocking Time (TBT),” because First Input Delay requires field data, but this audit uses lab data because field data may not always be available for the website you are auditing.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures visual stability (i.e., whether or not the page jumps around as the user scrolls through the content).
After you’ve completed your audit, you can assess the main priority areas which have highlighted metrics with a ‘poor’, or ‘needs improvement’ score.
Before you begin
To start the audit, you will need three things:
- A paid version of the Screaming Frog website crawler
- A PageSpeed Insights API key (which you can get from this Google PageSpeed Insights documentation page)
- The domain of the website you are auditing
Six steps to analysing Core Web Vitals using Screaming Frog
These are the fundamental six key steps to carry out:
Step 1: Connect the PageSpeed Insights API key to Screaming Frog
Step 2: Crawl the website
Step 3: Report the size of the problem
Step 4: Report the issues specific to each page and make appropriate recommendations
Step 5: Report examples of the issues specific to each page
Step 6: Once changes have been made, crawl the site again and compare
We suggest you complete this audit as soon as possible, because some of the issues will take time to resolve. Once the issues have been tackled, you can go back to step one and recrawl the site to see how things have changed. This is where your percentages of pages not meeting Core Web Vitals minimum thresholds will come in handy, as it shows a quick and easy way to understand whether your changes have had the desired impact or not.
When we'v been reporting on Core Web Vitals and the Page Experience Update to our clients, the questions we have been consistently asked are concerning how this update is going to impact rankings.
Despite this being an important update, we don’t envisage websites that haven’t met the minimum thresholds seeing a huge drop in rankings overnight. It will more likely be a case of sites that have excellent content that is able to meet or exceed Core Web Vitals minimum thresholds seeing a slight improvement in rankings, which will, of course, mean slight drops in rankings for the competitors that they overtake.
Read Tom’s comprehensive step by step guide on Search Engine Land: How to audit Core Web Vitals
Watch our webinar on Core Web Vitals: Page Experience Update - The impact on SEO, UX and performance