What you MUST know about SEO in 2021!

Jan 19, 2021 | Google Updates, SEO

To do well in SEO, a website needs to be able to adjust when changes are made to how search engines rank websites. These updates are called algorithm updates. With every new year, comes a new batch of core algorithm updates to navigate through. Thankfully, over the years Search Engines, like Google, have become more proactive in signaling when major updates will occur, and at times even go into detail on what is changing with the algorithm.

Core Web Vitals Algorithm Update

One such algorithm update Google is being transparent with is their pending Core Web Vitals algorithm update – coming in the summer of 2021. While Google may delay this due to COVID, they have stated that they will provide at least six months notice before the updates are rolled out. Core Web Vitals is an initiative by Google to provide unified guidance for quality signals that are essential to delivering a great user experience on the web. While not exactly ‘website speed’, they often go hand in hand when working to optimize a website for:

  • 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.

How to Optimize for Web Vital Metrics

Largest Content Paint (LCP)

Largest content paint (LCP) is closest related to page speed as a metric. In most cases, if your page loads quickly, your LCP will also score well. To improve your LCP score, you can consider:

  • Upgrading your web host: Better hosting=faster load times overall (including LCP).
  • Set up lazy loading: Lazy loading makes it so images only load when someone scrolls down your page. Which means that you can achieve LCP significantly faster.
  • Remove large page elements: Google PageSpeed Insights will tell you if your page has an element that’s slowing down your page’s LCP.

First Input Delay (FID)

First Input Delay (FID) measures the time it takes for a user to actually interact with your page. While most won’t say it, FID is the least important metric out of this batch. It’s dependent on user input to measure and isn’t applicable in evaluating certain page-types like Blogs & News pages. That being said, on pages where user engagement is critical, like a login page, FID is something to pay attention to. Here are some tips to help with your FID metric:

  • Minimize (or defer) JavaScript: It’s almost impossible for users to interact with a page while the browser is loading up JS.
  • Use a browser cache: This helps load content on your page faster.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) is how stable a page is as it loads (aka “visual stability”). If elements on your page move around as the page loads, then you’ve got a high CLS, which will hurt your website’s performance on Google.

  • Use set size attribute dimensions for any media so internet browsers know exactly how much space that element will take up on that page.
  • Make sure ads elements have a reserved space: Otherwise they can suddenly appear on the page, pushing content down, up or to the side.
  • Add new UI elements below the fold: That way, they don’t push content down that the user “expects” to stay where it is.

How to Test Your Website for Web Vitals

There are several tools to test your website/pages for Web Vitals.

Official Web Vitals Measuring Tool:
https://web.dev/measure/

For Website Managers:
https://search.google.com/search-console/welcome

Third-Party Speed Test Tools:
https://gtmetrix.com/
https://tools.pingdom.com/ 

How ASTOUNDZ is Preparing for the Core Web Vitals Algorithm Update

ASTOUNDZ is currently outfitting all our client websites with a web vitals solution in preparation for the Summer 2021 Google Algorithm update. Using tools like GTMetrix and Pingdom allows us to A/B sites to confirm our updates load quickly and pass Core Web Vitals:

Before:

Astoundz GT Before 980x346 1

After:

Astoundz GT After 980x343 1

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