Over a year ago, Google announced that big changes were coming to their algorithm—and now, that update is finally here. It’s time for content marketers to adjust their strategies and align to that vision. “Core Web Vitals” are the new standard for ranked content and the better your site performs, the higher you’ll be on the algorithm’s list. On the flip side, if you miss the mark, this change could dramatically impact your traffic, conversions, visibility and overall site health.
We’ve broken down the basics into five questions you’re probably asking yourself and outlining the need-to-know information to bring back to your content marketing team.
1. Why is Google focusing on experience?
Simply put, Google is now doubling down on the end-user and the experience visitors have on your website. “Page Experience” will become the primary signal for the larger search engine algorithm, communicating where and how to rank various pages.
It’s no secret that experience drives conversions—simple things like a slow-loading page or broken links could cause a user to bounce from your sight. Google’s update will take these types of metrics or experiences into account and use them to determine the value of your content to intended users.
2. What are the new criteria for good web content?
There are five primary criteria that Google will use to measure your website:
- Core web vitals: a measurement of three main experience-based metrics to gauge the overall web page speed. This includes the Largest Contentful Paint (how quickly a page loads), First Input Delay (how quickly a page can facilitate interaction) and Cumulative Layout Shift (how quickly the page is stable).
- Mobile-friendly browsing: a measurement of how well your website usability in a mobile space.
- Safe browsing: ensuring your website does not contain any malicious or harmful content.
- HTTPS: ensuring your website is hosted on a secure server with a stable connection.
- No intrusive interstitials: validating the accessibility of your website.
Keep in mind, each of these elements fall underneath the umbrella of “experience.” Think of it this way: if a web user is comparing two products, and the first has a cohesive landing page that’s presented quickly and efficiently, while the other has a landing page that loads slowly and doesn’t render correctly on their phone, it’s pretty easy to guess where that individual will direct their attention and further research. By aligning your web content to these new standards, you won’t just improve your ability to rank on Google—you’ll increase your odds for conversion.
3. Is there a way to see if I’m doing it right?
For a quick gauge of what to expect (and to see how you measure up), visit your Core Web Vitals through Google Search Console and Google Pagespeed Insights. Here you’ll find the most up-to-date information on how your page’s performance is being assessed.
You might be asking yourself, “but what about all that work we put into creating high-value content?” Don’t worry, the experts at Google still say content is king. “Our systems will continue to prioritize pages with the best information overall, even if some aspects of page experience are subpar,” they shared. “A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content.” This means that in order to out-rank your competitors, the best approach is two-fold: create great content and build that content into an effective digital experience.
4. When and how will this update affect my website?
These updates will take effect May 2021, and will impact roughly 1 in 10 queries, potentially changing the rank of those queries against competing content. What exactly does that mean for your website’s future? Your page’s rankings will likely change if you aren’t currently ranked on the first page of Google or have generally low experience scores. If you’re already at the top, don’t be surprised if you lose a spot or two to a competitor—it’s possible that even your best landing pages will need to be re-optimized under this update.
Remember, this new criteria isn’t bad. Instead, it’s pushing content marketers to focus on the value of their content and the experience they create with it. If you start losing out on traffic or visitors over the next month, it should signal that you need to adjust your strategy.
5. Where should I put my focus now?
If you haven’t already, your first step should be a comprehensive audit. Using the criteria from the new page experience metrics, you should categorize improvements based on impact. In this process, you’ll ask questions like:
- Does our website and its content (including images or videos) load quickly?
- Does our website operate seamlessly on different devices?
- Is our website safe for browsing? Are there any potential red flags for a user?
For a thorough analysis of your website, 10x digital can provide you with a free comprehensive technical site audit to determine specific areas of improvement for both content and functionality.
Based on our findings, we’ll build a strategy that both improves your website’s page experiences and generates hyper-targeted, relevant content for your audience. It may feel overwhelming to work with the Google search algorithm at first, but it doesn’t have to be rocket science. Reach out to our experts today and learn more about how you can maximize your website’s content and create meaningful conversions. Let’s work together to elevate your digital experience.