In May 2020, Google talked about future innovations related to the search engine. They talked about the new Page Experience ranking factors – a page usability analysis that includes Core Web Vitals, EAT factors and more. Previously, these were only conversations, but now the release date of the update has already been announced – it is scheduled for May this year.
If you still don’t know what this is about and what Google will be looking at in 2021 when ranking a website, read on.
What are the new ranking factors and why for Google is it so important?
Improving the quality of the search engine is the main goal of Google. To implement it, she begins to apply new ranking factors. The term “ranking” itself means sorting sites in a search engine. The site is in first place or in tenth – ranking factors are responsible for all this.
To improve the display quality of search queries, Google announced the release of new ranking factors referred to as Core Web Vitals. They consist of a dozen different parameters, but now it is important to pay attention to only 3 main ones – these are LCP (Largest Contentful Paint), FID (First Input Delay) and CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift).
As we can see, CWV is based on the user experience with a web resource. Google will take into account how fast the page load speed is (LCP score), how fast the interaction with the site is (FID score), whether all elements (CLS) work together correctly.
Summarizing the above and quoting the developers, Google wants the search engine to reduce the number of sites with low-quality content and increase the number of those that meet user expectations. For site owners, this is an improvement in quality, and for users, a quick solution to the problem.
It’s not too late to start working on improving the site. Although there is not much time left, you will have time to prepare your resource for a global update.
How to improve Core Web Vitals
As I said earlier, the new metrics will have a strong impact on a site’s search rankings. Google recommends using the following tools to improve them:
- Google Search Console. With the help of the service, you can see the shortcomings of the site and detail them.
- Page Speed Insights and Lighthouse… These services will help fix any problems that were found on the site.
- Web.dev /Vitals-tools. These tools will help you get all the necessary information about the functionality of the resource.
- AMP. The technology will help speed up the work with web pages.
At the Optimization-2020 conference, which was held for marketers, optimizers and other specialists, Andrey Lipatsev, a Google partner, spoke about his attitude towards CWV:
“There is no need to make pinpoint improvements. If the company implements the philosophy of user experience <...>, then organizational and temporary efforts are simplified. You don’t have to dedicate five full-time employees to run around and fix metrics. Every employee of the company, from advertising people to website developers and analysts, will think about the impact of changes on the user experience. This makes it cheaper and easier to maintain Core Web Vitals metrics. ”
How to work with Core Web Vitals
Let’s talk about the tools that will help you work with CWV. They can be used now – a great way to make changes before the upgrade is released. The list looks like this:
- Lighthouse – thanks to him, you can check the interactivity, availability and speed of loading pages in “tough conditions” Work is carried out through the command line, the Page Speed Insights interface, or using the developer tools in Chrome. It is recommended to use it when there are improvements or any changes on the site.
- CrUx – a database of what users see. It contains information about the performance of 8 million different pages. Here you can also track competitors from a similar industry.
- PageSpeed Insights – allows you to combine data from Lighthouse and CrUX and display them in a separate document.
- Google Search Console – includes CWV data that is available for each page of the site.
- Chrome Dev Tools – helps in tracing three main indicators.
- Web Vitals Chrome Extension – a browser extension that allows you to learn about changes on the page in real time.
- Web-vitals.js – a library for analyzing users and tracking the effectiveness of improvements.
All these tools are enough to set up a website that will feel confident with new ranking factors.
The importance of factors E–A–T
In addition to Core Web Vitals, we are talking about such factors as Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (expertise, authority and reliability). These criteria will also be taken into account when ranking. For a search engine, this means that:
- the experience of the content author plays an important role;
- the authority of the publication is also important;
- content must meet certain requirements.
Sites of any subject can have a high EAT level, even online magazines with women’s gossip, news sites and similar resources.
If sites about hobbies can somehow be “pardoned”, then with sites related to health and finance – everything is strict. EAT plays an important role for them, as the lives of people can depend on the disseminated information. Such content should be written by professional specialists and published in authoritative sources – only in this case the site will rise to the top of the search results.
If the site contains information about various diseases, then people with medical education should write about this. Health articles need to be re-checked and updated. If this is a news site, then all articles are written exclusively by professional journalists: the content should be written in such a way that users can better understand what happened.
how E–A–T affect ranking
Criteria such as expertise, authority and reliability are difficult to assess – these are rather abstract concepts. Official representative Google stated that the EAT factors do not affect the ranking in the sense that they cannot be “touched”, that is, algorithms cannot measure such criteria and get a certain number, as it happens, for example, with the download speed. However, at the same time, the search engine uses certain signals to understand if the content meets the established criteria.
All this is difficult to analyze, since the algorithms only understand the code. Therefore, Google has no reliable way to convert a signal into a rating, other than entrusting the task to assessors – search engine specialists who evaluate the results of search results. And there are two questions here:
- Who exactly will determine the signals and how can they be measured at all?
- Will the new sites lose to the giants, because they do not have time to gain trust?
AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is a mobile page acceleration technology created by Google in 2015. The speed is achieved by pre-rendering and caching the content on the search engine servers. Also, similar pages can be displayed in the “Top Stories” or “Top News” section.
Many people are not very positive about AMP. This is due to the fact that such pages often have a simplified design, it is difficult to place ads on them, and they also have problems with confidentiality.
how AMP affects ranking
As stated by Google spokesman John Mueller in his TwitterAMP is not a ranking factor. Despite this, many people prefer to use this technology. This is all because of the Top Stories page, which attracts a lot of traffic. Surely you have come across it more than once. It looks like this:
How does this relate to the upcoming update? At a recent conference, Google representatives said that the Top Stories block may include sites that do not use AMP. So AMP is an open question for now. Very soon, even ordinary pages will be able to get into the popular block, so it is highly likely that after a while the technology will cease to be used.
Recommendations for preparing for innovations
The following tips will help you optimize your site for Google promotion in 2021:
- Use Chrome User Experience data to help you identify negative users.
- Use Google Search Console – the tool will help you check website performance on all devices.
- Find pages on the site that conflict with Core Web Vitals.
- Optimize your images. It is recommended to use a CDN for all images on the site.
- Pay attention to the FID. This criterion is often influenced by JS, which leads to a delay in page loading. Optimizing the code will help solve the problem.
It is important to understand that it is not in the search engine’s best interest to disclose all of the ranking factors.
Google’s new ranking factors are a step into the future that should help the search engine get even better. It is difficult to say how this will all affect the search results, but, according to the official statements of the corporation, it will become easier for users to search for the desired content. It will become more difficult for site owners to promote the resource to the top, but this is how it should be. The best search engine is not the one where useless sites are in the first queries, but the one where in the top you can find sites of professionals who know exactly what they are writing about.