In a recent post, we talked about how to correctly measure your website performance in 2020. You can read more here. That post introduced Web Vitals, a new tool by Google that aims to standardize the measurement of application performance.
This follow-up article will focus on a particular aspect of Google's push into Web Vitals. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a moving target and, with Web Vitals, Google has clearly mentioned that these new performance metrics will tie into your page's ranking.
We will now explore how Google is changing SEO and how your business should adjust.
The SEO Impact of Google's Web Vitals
In a blog post from May 2020, Google said:
"Through both internal studies and industry research, users show they prefer sites with a great page experience… Today, we're building on this work and providing an early look at an upcoming Search ranking change that incorporates these page experience metrics. We will introduce a new signal that combines Core Web Vitals with our existing signals for page experience to provide a holistic picture of the quality of a user's experience on a web page."
This is big news. Google is updating search to directly feature user experience characteristics, such as page load times, interactivity, and how smoothly your page visuals load.
Furthermore, the company said that they "plan to incorporate more page experience signals on a yearly basis to both further align with evolving user expectations and increase the aspects of user experience that we can measure".
Let's be clear. This shift to search engine optimization (SEO) is permanent. We are thrilled to see that Google is taking user experience seriously – hopefully this means less annoying popups and faster loading across all of our favorite sites.
If you haven't followed us for long, we have written extensively about website speed, accessibility, and cloud infrastructure.
How Should You Adjust to These Changes?
By now, you're likely asking yourself how you should make adjustments to your website in order to prepare for this new ranking system. Here are a few tips.
Ensure Smooth Loading Visuals
This requirement will be a big loss for marketers and advertising, and a big win for users. To get the best score in this category, you will need to remove intrusive popups and (ideally) leverage a "loading skeleton" to keep visual consistency as your site loads.
Loading skeletons provide a basic framework for the website that can load first, giving a place for all other assets to sit. This way the user is not subject to images or buttons popping into view and pushing other items in new directions.
Improve Site Performance
Site speed and snappiness has been an important criteria for a while now. More than ever, you must ensure that your website loads quickly, especially on slow networks. We suggest implementing asset caching, minification of assets, pre-loading, and lazy loading.
These adjustments do not need to harm your design. For example, you can minify your CSS with no impact to layout, use lossless compression on images, and delay loading assets that are off the user's screen so their bandwidth is not wasted with items they cannot see.
In addition, we suggest that every website uses an optimized infrastructure with a content delivery network (CDN) and top quality cloud host. If your site is more demanding or your usage is high, we also recommend using containers to rapidly scale up and down.
UX Will Improve Your Site's Search Rankings
As before, search engine optimization is largely dependent on providing quality content to your site visitors. You cannot game your way into good SEO.
There are hundreds of factors that contribute to SEO rankings. And Google's machine learning algorithms are always improving and adjusting. As such, SEO is not a ‘set it and forget it' task.
It's important to remember that search engine optimization is largely dependent on providing quality content to site visitors. With the new move towards Core Web Vitals, Google has publicly announced that providing a better user experience is of great desirability for users and will soon directly improve your SEO.
We are personally looking forward to seeing improved visual loading and better performance for all of our favorite sites, and we can't wait for all of those annoying news sites to stop overwhelming you with ads and popups during the loading of an article.
Want to learn more about these SEO changes and your website? Contact the Tragic team for a free consultation. Our team of engineers, product managers, and designers are looking forward to building a better internet with you.