Unless your business is web design, you probably don’t want to spend a second more than you absolutely have to thinking about your company’s website. A website is a means, rather than an end. It’s your portal to the world, and while you may acknowledge its importance, you mostly just want it to work.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
Then Google makes another announcement – another shift in the way the search engine ranks pages. You know you need to pay attention. By the way, if you think you don’t need to pay attention, you’re wrong. These updates and changes in Google’s algorithm do matter to your company’s bottom line.
So you set aside the time. You’re going to tackle this new Core Web Vitals update for Google. You start your research, and you encounter a whole bunch of abbreviations and terms that make no sense. You throw up your hands and hope your website limps along okay. Or you throw down a bunch of cash for a consultant to take a look for you.
There is an alternative. I’m going to break down what you need to know about Core Web Vitals (CWV) in normal human (not tech-y) language. I’ll give you specific, actionable strategies for assessing and improving your CWV in order to ensure your website works optimally and ranks high for Google searches.
First, let’s get the ridiculously complicated terminology out of the way. There are three measures for CWV, and despite their intimidating language, they’re measures you can’t afford to ignore. The first measure is LCP, which stands for Least Contentful Paint, a term you don’t really need to understand. What you do need to understand is that it measures how fast a given page loads. The second metric is FID. You can forget that it stands for First Input Delay, as long as you remember that it measures how interactive a page is. The last metric is CLS. Again, if you’re curious, that stands for Cumulative Layout Shift, but what matters to you is that it measures how visually stable a page is.
Take a deep breath. The worst of the technical stuff is over. What do you actually need to do to make sure your website’s in good shape?
Test your website regularly. The easiest way to test your site is to visit PageSpeed Insights. Here, you can enter the address for each page of your website and get a rating out of 100. Your pages won’t get perfect 100s, and that’s okay. You’re looking for scores on all the three CWV metrics of more than 90. The other test you need to run is to determine if your website is mobile-friendly. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool will give you insight into how mobile users see and interact with your website.
If your assessments reveal that your website doesn’t perform well on the CWV or for mobile users, you’re going to need to make some changes. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take that will easily boost your website’s performance. You should:
- Make sure your website has high speed hosting.
- Use simple web templates.
- Limit the number of apps and plugins your website uses.
- Optimize your images. Yes, this step may seem intimidating, but here’s a great step-by-step explanation.
Once you’ve cleaned up your website and improved your CWV, you should continue to test each page of your website regularly to ensure nothing’s gone wrong. Also, since Google changes its algorithm and its practices for ranking websites, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for important updates to ensure the right potential customers can find your business easily. In addition, if you make testing your website a monthly or quarterly task, you can add in just a couple more related tasks, like making sure your SSL certificate is valid and properly installed. Don’t worry…you don’t even need to know what SSL stands for (it’s Secure Socket Layer, if you’re curious.) Also, regularly double check that your website continues to be mobile-friendly.
A final word about Core Web Vitals. Believe it or not, folks at Google don’t just sit around and dream up ways to irritate busy CEOs. These CWV – the three metrics that tell you how a given page performs – are genuinely important insights. Pages that take too long to load irritate users. Websites that aren’t sufficiently or efficiently interactive don’t retain users. Images that aren’t stable frustrate users as well.
So yes, you do need to monitor and improve your CWV to keep your website highly ranked, but you also need to accomplish these tasks in order to best attract and serve your customers. Core Web Vitals are simply a way for Google to rank pages based on metrics you already should have been paying attention to.
It’s common for busy CEOs and VPs to procrastinate about tech issues like website maintenance, particularly if they’re not tech-savvy. But while there are plenty of excuses for neglecting your website, none of those excuses are particularly good. Whether you delegate the task or do it yourself, regular checks on your website’s performance should be a high priority.