The State of Search: Core Web Vitals

There were no confirmed algorithm updates in November. However, sensors and members of the SEO community reported significant changes in the search results and organic traffic on and around November 17. Turbulence spiked again between November 25 and 27, as displayed in the graph below, which we can likely attribute to Thanksgiving and Black Friday deals driving users to increase their online activity:

November 2020 Search Volatility

Although the occurrence of a Google algorithm update was not confirmed this month, REQ will analyze changes in client and competitor rankings. It is important to remember that Google is constantly making tweaks to its algorithm to provide users with the best and most accurate results. That being said, fluctuations in the SERPs are common and expected. 

Google Announcements

On November 10, Google took to Twitter to announce that Core Web Vitals will become ranking signals this May:

Google Core Web Vitals Announcement

To refresh, the Core Web Vitals are made up of three metrics indicating “how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page”:

  1. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) - The time it takes for a page’s main content to load.
  2. First Input Delay (FID) - The time it takes for a page to become interactive. 
  3. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) - The amount of unexpected layout shift of visual page content. 

According to Google, the Core Web Vitals are critical to all web experiences. This update will combine Core Web Vitals with existing user experience signals like mobile-friendliness and HTTPS. 

What This Means For You

When Google announces a specific algorithm update in advance, the search engine expects and sometimes requires webmasters to take action on their sites prior to the update (think mobile site speed and HTTPS updates). Leading up to May 2021, we will prioritize page experience and continue to test and analyze the Core Web Vitals of client sites. Google now offers 6 different ways to measure a site’s Core Web Vitals, making it easier for webmasters to gain valuable insights into page experience metrics. We’ll work closely alongside our website development team to implement technical recommendations to improve the Core Web Vitals of client sites in preparation for this update. 

Let’s talk.