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New Google Algorithm Update Postponed to June

Google announced this week that it’s postponing the roll-out of its previously announced page experience algorithm update from May to mid-June. It said the roll-out would happen gradually and be completed in August.

This provides a little breathing room for you to get your website’s page experience in good shape. As a first step, here’s the information you need to know.


Core Web Vitals

What Google has termed as Core Web Vitals are at the center of the upcoming page experience update. This comprises three measurements: Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay and Cumulative Layout Shift. We’ll take these one at a time.

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) represents how quickly your website loads. Unlike First Contentful Paint, which you may have heard of and which measures when the first element of your web page loads, LCP measures when the largest element on a page loads. To get a passing grade from Google, a web page’s LCP needs to measure less than 2.5 seconds. According to Google, a fast LCP reassures a site visitor that the page is “useful”.

First Input Delay (FID) represents how quickly a site visitor can interact with your web page. Your FID must measure less than 100 milliseconds to receive a passing grade. Google says a short FID reassures a site visitor that the page is “usable”.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) represents how stable a web page – the more elements jump around on a web page, the more difficult it is for a site visitor to use the page. For a passing grade, the web page needs a CLS of 0.1, a measurement that’s achieved by multiplying various measures of how much the web page moves. According to Google, a low CLS means the web page will be “delightful” for site visitors.


PageSpeed Insights

In high school, a D was considered a passing grade, but Google’s grading scheme is much more rigorous – a site needs to score above 90% to get a passing Core Web Vitals grade. And this isn’t a case of degrees, where a page that scores 57% gets a boost over a page that scores 23%. Either your page scores 90% and gets the boost, or it scores lower and doesn’t get the boost.

You can visit Google’s PageSpeed Insights to discover how Google currently rates your site.

Just type your website address into the white box and make sure “Mobile” is selected in the bottom left corner of the blue box. Then hit “Analyze.”
 



Selecting mobile is important because your web page will score differently on mobile compared to desktop. Google has said that it will be using the mobile score to grade a page’s Core Web Vitals.

Don’t be surprised by a failing score. Web developers have never had to care about LCP, FID or CLS before, so your website might need some work.


Low Hanging Fruit

There are a few relatively straightforward changes that can help improve your Core Web Vitals score.

You can ask your web developer to:

  • Minimize Javascript and CSS (cascading stylesheets)
  • Remove unused or unnecessary plugins
  • Compress images and convert them to WebP format
  • Include dimensions in the coding for every image

A good web developer can analyze your website and provide further details for improving your score.

Keep in mind that Core Web Vitals are measured on a page by page basis; it’s not one score for your entire website. You’ll want to check your home page as well as your pages that rank best on Google to ensure they all have a passing score.


Larger Picture

Core Web Vitals are just one component of Google’s overall page experience update. The other elements are ranking factors that Google has previously announced:

  • The mobile-friendly update, which gives a boost to pages that are viewable on all sizes of devices
  • The https update, which gives a boost to pages that are secured with a special certificate
  • The safe browsing penalty, which triggers warnings for unsafe sites and dangerous downloads
  • The intrusive interstitial penalty, which negatively impacts pages that have too many large pop-ups

Good News

All of this might sound a bit daunting, but the outlook isn’t completely grim. Google has said that good content is still the most important factor in its algorithm. A page with great content but a poor user experience will rank better than a page with poor content, no matter how good its user experience is.

Page experience will largely be used as a tiebreaker. If two pages have similar content, the page with the better page experience will get the ranking boost.

June will be here before you know it, so now is a great time to touch base with your web developer to make sure your site is ready for the new page experience update.

If you need a web developer you can trust, make sure to contact Pilot Fish. We have 25 years of experience in helping clients get the most out of their websites.

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