I know how important Google rankings are for small business owners, because I’m a small business owner myself.
I also know that while the web development world has been abuzz with Google’s anticipated algorithm update, most of the small business owners I deal with have no idea what’s coming down the pipeline.
And in the world of Google and online marketing, what you don’t know coming down the pipeline can kill your business. Or at least, it can kill your search engine rankings, which can be the same thing for small businesses.
It might sound like tech speak, but if you own a small business, keep reading. If you want to stay competitive, you must understand Google’s Core Web Vitals, and what they mean for your website.
What Are Core Web Vitals?
Core Web Vitals are metrics Google can use to evaluate your website when deciding whether or not to show it in search results. Coming May 1, 2021, there will be a Google algorithm update that will start to include Core Web Vitals in page ranking.
Google’s Core Web Vitals measure how user-friendly a website is. Specifically, Google will now be measuring these three critical aspects of your site:
1. Website Speed
Google has never liked slow websites, but with the new 2021 user experience, it has upped the ante. Loading speed is a new Core Web Vital that measures how long it takes your website’s main content to load.
Google calls your main content the ‘Largest Contentful Paint,’ and they recommend it load in 2.5 seconds or faster, on both mobile and desktop.
2. Website Responsiveness
Do you have forms on your website, maybe a contact form or an email signup? When someone clicks submit, do they have to sit and wait, watching that little spinning wheel spin?
The second Core Web Vital is called ‘First Input Delay,’ which refers to how quick these types of interactions on your site take.
Ideally, interactions on your website should be less than 100 microseconds. That’s basically the blink of an eye, so your website really needs to perform well to rank well.
3. Website Stability
Have you ever been on a website that is just jumpy? So that when you’re scrolling through, and you try to click on a link, the layout suddenly moves, maybe because of an ad?
You probably hate this, and so does Google. In tech speak, this is called ‘Cumulative Layout Shift,’ and it’s another metric Google will be tracking on your website. The ideal measurement is less than 0.1.
At the end of the day, these three Core Web Vitals all track how easy it is for a user to interact with your website. As Google is getting smarter, it is using these metrics to help determine not just what is on your website, but your website itself.
Websites need to be freshened up from time to time. That doesn’t mean that you need to completely overhaul everything, but many business owners don’t spend enough time keeping their most important marketing tool up to date.
What The Latest Google Update Means For Small Business Websites
Google will be tracking the Core Web Vitals of all websites, starting in May 2021. So going forward, small business owners will have to pay much more attention to the user-friendliness of their websites.
Many small business owners try to build and manage their own sites. If that is the case for you, then you need to check your page insights, along with how mobile friendly your site is. Make sure your site is also set up on Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
Google is only getting more competitive and demanding, so you really need to do your homework if you are going to manage your website by yourself. You must be comfortable managing the ins and outs of how it’s set up so you can make adjustments as necessary.
It’s also important to note that websites built on premade WordPress themes and drag-and-drop builders tend to have excess code, which can slow things down.
Ultimately, the 2021 Google update further illustrates that if you want your website to work (ie, if you want people to be able to find you and your offerings), then you need to have all your technical ducks lined up in a row.
It’s not OK for your website to just be pretty.
It has to function well on the front end and on the back end. If you don’t have the time to not only create an efficient website, but to update it as necessary, then it likely won’t perform the way you want it to.
Google is constantly updating its algorithm, and best practices in web design are constantly changing. This latest update is just a further reminder that web design and functionality are complex and multifaceted. Indeed, proper web development requires continually learning and continual tweaking.
Remember Google’s Main Objective
Finally, this update is also a good check-in reminder for small businesses. If you want to reach people browsing the Internet, then you have to keep your website up-to-date and follow all the best practices, all the time.
And remember Google is a business, too. The people who use it for their Internet searches are their customers. And their goal is to keep their customers happy by offering delightful user experiences.
Content is still king.
Google says, “a good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content. However, in cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search.
So this is a great opportunity for small businesses, especially new businesses that are having a hard time getting up the ranks. If you have a competitor who has more authority in Google than you, you may be able to beat them with the right content and good Core Web Vitals.
Ultimately, Google’s main objective should dovetail with your own. You want to delight your potential customers. The best way to do that is to have and maintain an efficient, user-friendly website with lots of great, rich content.
My team helps small businesses make search engine optimized websites their customers (and Google) will love.
Get started with a professional website that showcases your company beautifully and gets found in the search engines that results in more leads and sales for your business.