Detroit User Experience and Core Web Vitals
Google is the most popular search engine in the world. It is known for its ever-evolving updates to its algorithm and ranking factors. Search engine optimizers understand the necessity of never getting too comfortable with SEO strategies.
While Google tends to keep its plans on the down-low, the company pre-announced in May 2020 that it would begin using new additional ranking factors for websites beginning in May 2021: Core Web Vitals.
Great! We have a sneak peek, for you, into the future of Google’s next update, but what are Core Web Vitals, and what do we do with this information?
What are Core Web Vitals?
Core Web Vitals take the design of a website into consideration when ranking. More specifically, they measure the user experience. As people’s online behaviors shift, and technology constantly shifts to meet the intentions of users, search engines create and adjust protocols that determine which sites are found on page one.
Google’s Core Web Vitals are made up of the following:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This measures the overall speed that a webpage loads from the user’s perspective.
- First Input Delay (FID): This measures the site’s responsiveness and user experience of first-page interaction.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This measures the visual stability of the page, or how much the page shifts as it loads.
These Core Web Vitals can be measured in Google’s Webmaster tool. Separate reports on these metrics can be found for both mobile and desktop sites. From our understanding, Google is beginning to care more about a user’s overall experience — but how does that affect website design?
Google’s Focus On User Experience (UX)
While Google is constantly changing its search algorithm to quickly provide users with high-quality, relevant content, it also is focused on making sure users have the best experience with these sites.
According to the update to Google’s guidelines for website design, the largest image or block of text, when initially rendered, should load in 2.5 seconds or less to be valued as a “good” LCP score. Some of the items considered for LCP include:
- Background Images
- Block-level Elements (HTML, CSS)
First Input Delay is related to webpage reactivity. Google is looking specifically at the time it takes for the website to allow you to do something, like login. To that end, using cached information, or a feature like auto-fill should help increase the responsiveness of the page and keep your FID score in a good range.
Have you ever clicked a button or link on a webpage only to have the page shift as it finished loading, directing you somewhere you didn’t want to go? Yeah, Google doesn’t like that either, which is why it will be cracking down on this Cumulative Layout Shift measurement.
Google is also tightening down on:
- Mobile Friendliness: How easy websites are to navigate on mobile devices. This also includes the readability of content and how clickable links and other on-page elements are.
- Safe Browsing: This helps to ensure the site is safe and free from malware, phishing, hacked content or other issues. Google wants to make sure users can safely browse the internet.
- HTTPS: It’s recommended that websites use HTTPS, another security feature that helps to maintain a secure connection.
- Non-Intrusive Interstitials: Making sure that users can access all elements on-page is another way Google can provide, high-quality, relevant and accessible information to users.
Overall, this update is Google trying to ensure positive experiences and positively impacting the ranking of websites that meet their standards for user experience design. If a user is enjoying and can quickly, and easily, navigate your site then they’re more likely to stay on the page and eventually convert into a lead.
Other UX factors include:
- Page speed
- Visual design
- Alt text (especially for people who are visually impaired)
- Easy-to-use navigation
So, what are the best practices to meet these new design standards? We’ll give you a few tips!
How to Create a Google-Friendly Website
When trying to create a great site that will meet all of the new requirements that have been set, less is always more. Aim for a minimalistic design that will be lightweight and very user friendly.
If you’re trying to get your site up to Google’s website design standards, look at the following:
- Photos: Personalize them. If you’re a Detroit business, show them the local scene.
- White space
- Design Elements
- Unnecessary Plugins
Compress photos and videos so they take up less space. When choosing new elements to include on a webpage, ask the following questions:
- What does this element add to the webpage? Does it serve an essential purpose?
- What is the size of this file? Can I compress it for my needs?
- As a new website user, could I benefit from this element, or is it better to move to a less-weighty page?
One of the best actions to take when designing a website for fast page loads is to use a plug-in or tool to “minify” your files. Minification is simply the process of compressing code. Some tools you can use to accomplish this include:
- Fast Velocity
You can also check your changes in your Google Search Console dashboard to check on each individual rank or view overall Google Pagespeed insights.
The Bottom Line
These new ranking factors favor improved user experience and websites designed with the overall experience in mind. Optimizing content with keywords and authoritativeness is still a leading strategy, but Google is encouraging everyone to put themselves in the user’s shoes.
Does this mean that design will become increasingly important for ranking in the next few years? Stay tuned.