2021 Search Ranking Factor: The Introduction to Core Web Vitals

Nov 19, 2020 | Google Updates, Responsive Websites, SEO

As the first year of the new decade ends, what can we expect in the coming years from search engines and how they evolve? When we look to the past, we can see some very clear paradigm shifts in how search engines operated – with Smart Mobile Phone technology being the biggest one. Websites were suddenly expected to be responsive, meaning, fully accessible & functional across devices, in addition to providing optimized content to achieve high search engine rankings.

At ASTOUNDZ, we expect this trend in how a website’s accessibility and user experience is scored to influence search rankings. As evidence of this, Google is already looking to roll out a new set of ranking factors, Core Web Vitals, that works to calculate and grade certain aspects of a site’s user experience.

What are search ranking factors?

The term “Ranking Factors” describes the criteria applied by search engines when evaluating web pages in order to compile the rankings of their search results. Search engine ranking systems, like the ones Google uses, are designed to sort through hundreds of billions of webpages to find the most relevant, useful results. With ranking factors, search engines then order these results based on the highest perceived quality to the lowest.

How many search ranking factors are there?

Only the highest level engineers/managers at Search Engine companies know the exact number of search ranking factors in their algorithms. Even then, it’s highly likely that the more modern search algorithms are determining some factors independently of people. Still, through testing and public information & patents via Google, we know that out of the hundreds of factors there are several essential ones needed to rank well.

  • Page Content/Keyword Optimization
  • Speed & User Experience
  • Security/Accessibility
  • Internal & External Links
  • HTML tags

We expect this list to grow by 1 within the next year with the addition of Core Web Vitals.

What is ‘Core Web Vitals’

From Google:

“Core Web Vitals are the subset of Web Vitals that apply to all web pages, should be measured by all site owners, and will be surfaced across all Google tools. Each of the Core Web Vitals represents a distinct facet of the user experience, is measurable in the field, and reflects the real-world experience of a critical user-centric outcome.”

The three Core Web Vitals that Google is first bringing into the fold as a major search ranking factors are:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): measures loading performance. To provide a good user experience, LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.
  • First Input Delay (FID): measures interactivity. To provide a good user experience, pages should have a FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): measures visual stability. To provide a good user experience, pages should maintain a CLS of less than 0.1.
Core Web Vitals Img

Google even goes on to provide some baselines on where a site should be scoring across each metric to maximize your rankings, recommending your site be found in the 75th percentile of page loads.

Because these ranking factors are dependent on a website’s framework, rather than content, these updates need to be done with a web developer to ensure they are correctly made.

Start the countdown!

Much like Mobile-first indexing, because these search ranking factors are so specific and outside of content optimizations, Google is providing a generous deadline to make these changes by – May 2021.

ASTOUNDZ is currently in the process of making these core updates on sites we optimize – our team of SEO experts advises to get these done sooner than later, and are here to help if you have a site that is needing these core updates. Simply reach out and provide your URL for us to audit!


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