- The Mobile Experience is critical for all categories when looking at Core Web Vitals (CVW)
- Image compression seems to be a leading challenge for leading brands
- Pages doing well for CVW tend to be informational in nature
- Retail, in particular, could see significant disruption if second-tier retailers receive a boost
- Across all sectors, there is opportunity and time for improvement and preparation as long as issues are addressed as a business priority.
- Enterprise Search and Digital Marketers need to prescribe the right course of action to meet vital core benchmarks
- They must also convince the rest of the organization that the efforts will be worth the results.
The long-awaited implementation of mobile-first indexing is now upon us, meaning that content visible only on the desktop will be ignored from this point on by the world’s largest search engine. Mobile-first has been a priority of Google’s for years as the beat of the user experience drum has grown to a crescendo. A few short months from now, the Page Experience update as a whole will roll out, too. According to Google, page experience “measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page” and consists of five significant Search signals.
Hopefully, you’re familiar with at least four of these, as they’ve been in play for some time. Mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines have been rolled out and updated as Google has sought to keep pace with evolving consumer expectations.
So what’s new?
In May, signals from a new metric called Core Web Vitals (CVW) will combine with these existing four signals for one mega-metric called Page Experience. BrightEdge (my company) conducted a study into CWVs preparedness and mobile-first compliance to determine the potential impact on sites in four major industries. But first, it’s essential to understand the CVW opportunity and the relationship between this new set of metrics and the mobile-first index.
Demystifying Core Web Vitals
Before we go any further, note that CVs are not a guideline that could instigate a penalty if not followed. Cloaking is one such example of a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, and if you’re caught out at it, you risk being penalized by Google.
Core Web Vitals, on the other hand, is an opportunity. If you fail to meet the thresholds for each of the three significant areas of focus that make up the CVW signal, you won’t get a penalty. But you will miss out on the rankings boost available to those who meet the standards.
And what are those standards?
Meeting one of these goals won’t suffice; Google has confirmed that all three must be met to see the rankings boost available via CWV. You can read more about these essential metrics here.
Core Web Vitals and mobile-first go hand-in-hand for search UX
Safe browsing, HTTPS security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines are pretty straightforward — you’re either in line with the policies or you’re not.
Mobile-first and Core Web Vitals are more complex, consisting of a greater volume of moving parts, and therefore are getting the lion’s share of webmaster attention as the May rollout looms. Hosting, site structure, image optimization, and more can impact how your site loads on mobile. James Parsons recently shared a 28-point checklist of optimizations to work through as you’re preparing for CWVs that every webmaster and SEO should check out.
Mobile-first has an outsized impact due to its influence on local search experience, as well. Considering that 60 percent of mobile searches have local intent, the vast majority of businesses cannot afford to ignore Google’s emphasis on the mobile index. When local consumers are out in their neighborhoods searching for nearby companies to meet their needs, the website must load lightning-fast.
So how are businesses doing at preparing for the Page Experience update? BrightEdge (my company) recently conducted research that compared top sites in different industries to see how vulnerable each is to the May update. We currently have no way to gauge just how impactful the introduction of CWVs to the ranking algorithm will be. So we wanted to both explore preparedness and establish a baseline.