Since its introduction in 2015, Google’s Google Search Console (GSC) has made monitoring, maintaining and troubleshooting your website’s rank in Google Search results a simple and streamlined process. The provided tools and reports in GSC make it easier than ever to understand and improve how Google sees and ranks your site.

Recently Google made changes to the speed report in GSC and announced that more improvements are coming. The first change is that the speed report is now called the “Core Web Vitals” report and draws its data from the new Web Vitals engine that was released by Google on May 5th, 2020. 

More recently Google announced that it will be integrating the Core Web Vitals metrics with their existing page experience ranking. This change will take effect January 21, 2021. 

That’s a lot of change in a short period of time. What does it mean for your website and SEO?

Familiarize yourself with Google Search Console

If you haven’t used Google Search Console yet, now is the time to do so. The process is straightforward if you have access to your domain account and have some familiarity with HTML. 

To get started, log into your Google account and register your domain name here. You will have to verify the domain and there are few ways to do that: by adding an HTML tag, by uploading an HTML file, or through your domain provider using a CNAME or TXT record. You can also validate your domain through your Google Analytics account if you have administrative access to your website and are able to change code – follow the instructions under “Google Analytics Traffic Code” on this page to do that

You can even link your Google Analytics account for a more complete view of how many visitors you’re getting, how they are finding your site, how much time they’re spending there and what geographic region your visitors are coming from.

You will need to set your target country (if Google hasn’t determined that for you) and let Google check for security issues but once completed, you will have access to the new “Core Web Vitals”; the tools and reports to help you confirm that Google can find and crawl your site, to troubleshoot issues and fix indexing problems, view search traffic data, set up alerts and view which sites have links to your website.

Why “Core Web Vitals” metrics matter 

Web Vitals is an initiative by Google to provide users with a better experience on the web by simplifying the metrics that websites use to measure engagement, or what it calls the “Core Web Vitals” .

This new Google Search Console report looks similar to the old speed report, but now includes some new key metrics – Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) which measures loading performance, First Input Delay (FID) which measures user interactivity and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) which measures visual stability. 

To simplify reporting further, Google will merge its Core Web Vitals with the existing page experience signals that Google already uses for its rankings. Together, they will measure both the user experience and the existing Search signals: mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS, and intrusive interstitial guidelines.

With everything being evaluated on page basis, having a better page experience will help Google make ranking decisions when choosing between website content that is largely similar. 

In other words, having the best possible page experience for your users can help your website move higher in Google’s search engine rankings.

Another part of this change is that the Core Web Vitals metric will also be used by Google to assess eligibility for which pages are included in the Top Stories on mobile search. 

Traditionally, the emphasis for this selection has been on AMP (Accelerated Mobile Page) since those are easily accessible to mobile users but Core Web Vitals removes the requirement to have AMP versions of your pages. Now the overall page experience matters more. While that doesn’t mean abandoning AMP entirely – you still want your site to load quickly on mobile devices – it means that Google is not considering it as strongly as a ranking factor anymore. 

If you’d rather not drill down into the code issues and other items with your website, we’ll be happy to do it for you. Between our team members who are certified in Google Analytics and our usability (UX) experts, we’ll ensure that there are no technical issues with your site that could affect your SEO and customer conversions. 

It is important to analyze your website’s overall user experience overall rather than just thinking about it in terms of your search engine ranking. Our UX experts will ensure that you have the best user experience possible that will both lift search engine results and increase conversions once your buyers are on the site. Starting your website’s redevelopment with a usability makeover will only help your business with SEO as UX is heavily weighted in search engine rankings. 

ion8 has a full team of technology experts and digital marketers ready to help improve your website’s SEO and user page experience. For more information about everything ion8 can do for your business, contact us today.