When you’re a marketer building an online business, you look for the most cost-effective, easiest and fastest ways to get going. Your goal is profits, and to secure them, that means you have to attract visitors using paid and free traffic methods.
Many new entrepreneurs don’t have the budget for hefty paid traffic, so they rely on their success with search engine optimization (SEO) to help them garner attention in the SERPs (search engine results pages).
Google is the most popular (and subsequently important) search engine that your site can rank on, so it’s imperative that you adhere to their guidelines and meet their demands to see your site rank highly against your competitors.
Every Marketer Needs to Check Their Site Speed
In the past, some of Google’s updates have worked to thwart spammers from manipulating the system to have their site rise in the SERPs, even though they had a weak site in terms of relevant, strong content.
Recently, Google introduced a new update called Core Web Vitals that focuses on elevating the user’s experience while on your site. It’s up to you to ensure your site is in good working order, so that it’s not pushed down in the ranks and beaten out by those who adhere to the new update standards.
As an Internet user, there have surely been times when you landed on a site and got frustrated by how long it took the page to load. Time is a precious commodity, and if Google were giving high rankings to poorly loading sites, it makes the users want to rely on someone else to advise them of where to go.
Like the Panda and Penguin updates before this one, the Core Web Vitals update is going to impact a lot of websites. Some estimate that up to 96% of sites will see an impact from the change.
Not only does Google want your site to load fast, but they want the interaction to go smoothly and the quality of the visuals to be good, too. Luckily, you can measure these things to see where you currently stand with Google and their new update.
You don’t just want to run it through some basic site speed estimator to tell you if your site loads fast. You have to know more about site speed when it’s broken down into images, content and interactivity elements.
And you need to know exactly what numbers Google is looking for. You can’t just load your site yourself, shrug your shoulders and assume it works good enough for you. They’re looking to make everyone’s experience good – not just yours.
Some marketers never pay attention to Google updates, and suddenly their online income dries up and they can’t understand why they stop getting as many sales as they did before.
This is a part of online entrepreneurial business ownership that you have to pay attention to, just as an offline franchise owner would have to pay attention to the main corporation’s rules and regulations.
Understanding the 3 Core Elements of Google’s Update
Google’s update measures three basic elements of your site: Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), First Input Delay (FID) and Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). To fix what may or may not be wrong with your site, you first have to understand these three concepts.
The Cumulative Layout Shift is how much your site’s layout shifts or alters when a visual is presented to your site visitor. Ideally, they want to see less than 0.1 as the measurement.
Depending on where your site ranks, they may bury you in the SERPs. With CLS, you rank good with Google is you’re under that 0.1 mark. But if you’re under 0.25, your site is seen as a poorly designed site, and anything in between is not a disaster, but needs some work to stay competitive.
The First Input Delay is for sites that have an interactive element. It tells Google how long it takes for that interactivity to be in working form. Ideally, your site will measure at less than 100 ms.
With the FID measurements, you want to avoid getting stuck on page 10 or higher in the SERPs by ensuring you don’t measure at over 300 ms. If you stay between 100 and 300, your site will survive, but you’ll need to fix whatever’s holding you back from that good ranking.
When it comes to Large Contentful Paint, this is probably the most crucial element because it’s based on how long it takes your site’s primary content to load for the visitor. Ideally, they want it under 2.5 seconds.
The LCP measurement is where so many marketers will go wrong. They often don’t see a problem with their site content loading at just over 4 seconds, but Google does – and if you go over that number, they’ll label you as a poorly ranked website.
If your number comes up between that 2.5 sweet spot and the 4 listing, it means you’re almost there, but you have more work to do in getting your site to load faster for a better end user experience.
Google will also be measuring your TTFB (Time to First Byte). This is the time it takes your site from the moment it connects to the server to it downloading the content on your website.
If your site has any problems in the connectivity aspect of the process, then it can impair the metrics Google uses to evaluate and place your web listing in the SERPs. Keep in mind, most web users will abandon a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load and show them the content, so it’s in your best interest to repair these issues.
Google will also be checking to see how a user’s privacy is protected while on your site. That’s part of the important experience a user has when visiting your website. So make sure you have this analyzed, too.
Common Culprits That Prey Upon Your Site Speed
There are many ways to find out these exact metrics where you can pinpoint and ultimately, work on repairing your site so that you don’t allow the rankings to sabotage your business revenue.
You may want to install the Web Vitals Extension , which you can find in the Chrome Web Store. This will give you the analysis and results of all three of the primary metrics used by Google in the Core Web Vitals update.
It’s a free download. You simply install it on your Google Chrome, then go to the website you want to check and click on the extension. It will show you the metrics of the LCP, FID and CLS in order so that you can investigate anything you may need to change for compliance.
Any time you’re using images on your site, you want to make sure you optimize them. If the file size is too big, then the load time of your site will be, too. Make sure you reduce the file size and see if it helps your metrics improve.
All of the coding for your site has the potential to be lean and effective or bloated and harmful. If you’re not a coder, don’t try to fix this yourself. Go to an expert to get them to fix your site’s load time.
Believe it or not, someone else’s poorly ranking site can affect your domain! If you’re with a hosting company that uses shared hosting, it might impact your own site’s ability to perform is other users on the same server are sabotaging others.
You might want to get a dedicated server for your site so that your site has the potential to perform better. While you may save some money in the short-term with shared hosting, in the long run, if your site performs poorly and you lose traffic and revenue, you’ll be missing out on a better income stream.
Have you made the mistake of going overboard with plugins? It’s hard to pass up gadgets that seem to make your site do cool stuff. But too many plugins, or those that don’t perform well, can tank your entire site’s performance with Google metrics.
Periodically go through your list of plugins and remove anything that you’re not using or that you don’t care about having on your site. You want to keep your site lean and free of clutter.
Some plugins will interrupt the caching of your site, which is very important to maintaining good site speed. You can check the caching of your site to see how well it’s operating, and that should give you come insight into anything causing issues.
If you’re using multimedia on your site, you have to make sure that the images, audio and video files are optimized. With images, TinyJPG is a free tool that can optimize those for you.
Instead of hosting videos and audio files right on your site, where the size will be larger, host them elsewhere, like on Anchor.FM and YouTube so that you can simply embed them and keep them from dragging down your page load speed.
How the Google Update Will Affect Your Online Business
Although it can be frustrating to have to investigate the performance of your site, it will not only serve your customers well, but will help you, too. You’ll enjoy more sales and ad revenue if you have that on your domain.
Keep in mind that every user on the Internet enjoys a different experience. Depending the device they’re using to log on with, their own connection and where they live, they may see your site load slower or faster than someone else’s.
Don’t neglect the aspect of creating good, relevant content for your site visitors. This is still a major factor in whether or not Google presents your pages to those who use their search engine.
The content element should be paired with the other, more technical metrics of a site to give you an overall clue as to how well your site will rank, or if it risks getting buried far down into the SERPs.
Securing, analyzing and repairing issues on your domain is not something you do once and then ignore. Every time you post content or change something about your site, you risk a shift in how your site measures up.
It’s an on-going administrative task that you’ll need to undertake. You might want to set up a schedule for this task, such as bi-weekly or monthly. Don’t let it go too long between measurements.
If you don’t want to handle this task, this is something you can outsource to other SEO experts who understand site metrics, how to read them, and how to repair things that are hindering your ranking.
Google secures the information they need to analyze and rank your site according to their new update by using their CrUX report. This stands for Chrome User Experience Report.
It gathers information about the metrics of your site and shows them the performance data so they can rank your site accordingly for future visitors, depending on how it stacks up against others.
Once you have your Core Web Vitals metrics under control and your site is performing well, make sure you always look at other factors Google uses to rank your site. Continue developing thorough, stellar content that’s relevant to your audience.
Think of ways to make your site sticky. This is when a visitor comes to your site, enjoys what they experience and read or watch, and sticks around. You don’t want people landing and bouncing quickly from your site because they don’t find what they need.
When this happens, Google marks it up as a rejection of the material based on whatever search words or phrases the person typed into their search engine. The more bounces you have (the higher the rate), the worse your site will rank with them.
The Google Core Web Vitals update is not a one time occurrence. This is something they plan on updating periodically as needed to enhance the end user’s experience. So you’ll want to stay tuned about what they have planned for subsequent metrics at a later date.