Google’s Newest Ranking Factor for 2021
When people think of SEO, they think of keywords and, specifically, making sure you have the right keywords. While that’s an important part of SEO, long gone are the days of just plugging in keywords in your header tags and making sure you include them in your copy X amount of times.
Optimizers spent most of their time trying to “cheat” the system. I say cheat, but really it was just trying to figure out the formula to catch the algorithm. Not really cheating in my book – just being smart. However, the algorithms began changing more often. So, once you thought you had figured it out, BOOM… try again.
Then Google moved to other ranking factors outside meta data and copy. How much traffic are you driving to your site? Do you have an active social media account pointing to your site? Are you regularly changing your content? It became more and more involved to try and rank high in the Google Search Results.
Why Would Google Do This?
Because really, it’s about the user experience. You can have the best keywords spaced perfectly apart (according to some supposed formula), and you can have all kinds of links – but if your website looks and reads like a robot made it, users are likely to be turned off to your site. If the user experience is bad, then does your website really deserve to be on the first page of the search results? Google says no. And I agree.
I grew up in the age of instant gratification – along with millions of others. We are used to getting what we want quickly and efficiently. I’m not saying this is a good thing. There are all kinds of implications for this type of mindset… but for now, it is what it is.
How many times have you searched for something online, clicked on a URL, waited for the website to load, but if it took longer than a few seconds you backed out and clicked on the next URL? I’ve done this many times. I don’t want to wait for a site to load, especially if there are other websites that might offer me the exact same thing. Ultimately it was a bad user experience for me, so I went somewhere else. Welcome to the first piece of Google’s newest ranking factor for 2021 = Largest Content Paint (LCP). Or, more simply, how fast does the page load? A page that takes forever to load creates a bad user experience.
Next, how many times have you pulled up a website but the content kept “jumping” around? Every time you clicked on something the page would shift? I’ve been extremely frustrated by this in the past and have abandoned sites because of it. I’m not the only one, apparently. Google has added this as the second piece = Cumulative Shift Layout (CSL). Basically, how fast is the page stable?
The final piece is a little trickier to explain. It’s called First Input Delay (FID) and can be thought of as how fast is the page interactive? For instance, if you click on a button, how fast does the browser respond? Have you ever clicked on a button or link and it took so long to respond that you clicked on it over and over, hoping the brute force of your click could make it go faster? I have! Call me impatient… but… this is part of Google’s newest ranking factor for 2021.
These three pieces make up what is called:
Core Web Vitals
Largest Content Paint (LCP)
How fast does the page load?
Cumulative Shift Layout (CSL)
How fast is the page stable?
First Input Delay (FID)
How fast is the page interactive?
Just like checking your vitals in triage, these factors are going to determine how “healthy” your site is and ultimately how it will be treated.
Google has given us a 6 month’s heads up to make sure our sites are healthy. Don’t wait until the last minute. Some fixes might need a little more assistance than you think – do some diagnostics today and see where you stand.
If you find there are things to fix that seem overly technical or you just have more important things to do (like running your business and making money) contact Oakley Optimization today and we would be happy to assist you!