Recently, Google announced yet another upcoming update to search rankings, known as the Page Experience signal. The page experience signal consists of several previously known ranking factors such as whether a site is mobile-friendly and if HTTPS-security is implemented, along with something new called “Core Web Vitals.” The goal of the update is to improve the way the Google evaluates the overall experience a user has on a webpage.
Core Web Vitals are metrics that seek to reward sites that have a good user experience and conversely, penalize sites that have a poor experience. This update has the potential to have a major impact on your website’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO), so here’s what you need to know in order to ensure your law firm website is compliant.
The three vital metrics that make up the Core Web Vitals are:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – This metric measures how fast your webpage loads and marks the point at which key visual elements on the page, such as video, images or text blocks, are fully loaded and available to the user. A faster LCP provides a better user experience for your website visitors, so an ideal LCP measurement is 2.5 seconds or faster.
Action items to improve LCP:
- Fix slow server response times
- Speed up resource load times
- Reduce client-side rendering
- First Input Delay (FID) – This metric measures responsiveness and quantifies the experience users have when trying to first interact with the page. In other words, how much time elapses from when a user first interacts with a page to the time when the browser is actually able to respond to that interaction. An ideal measurement is less than 100 ms.
Action items to improve FID:
- Break up long tasks (over 50ms) that block the main thread
- Use several smaller tasks that run asynchronously <script async>
- Be aware of server-side rendering’s effect on TBT and TTI
- Minimize data-fetching and client-side post-processing
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – This metric measures how much visible content shifted when viewing in various browsers and how far it shifted. Ideally, content, as well as buttons and other elements should not shift regardless of whether you view the content on a desktop, tablet, or mobile device, but we’ve all had the experience of attempting to click on something only to have it suddenly move or shift. An ideal measurement is less than 0.1.
Action Items to improve CLS and provide a superior visual experience:
- Include dimensions for all images, embeds, and iframes
- Avoid inserting dynamic content above existing content without user input
Please Repeat That Slowly, Using Small Words
At this point, I know many of you may be scratching your head and wondering, “What the heck is she talking about?!” Fear not, as an attorney, you don’t need to know how to actually make these updates to your website, but you should know whether your website needs work and arrange to have necessary updates made by your webmaster.
There are a couple of free tools available to assist with measuring Core Web Vitals:
- Google Search Console has a new Core Web Vitals report
- Google PageSpeed includes information for Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
But Wait, There’s Good News Too!
Originally slated to roll out in May, Google has pushed back the launch of its Page Experience algorithm update, which will see the Core Web Vitals become ranking signals, to mid-June. Even better, the update won’t have its full impact on search rankings until the end of August.
It’s also important to remember that search engines factor in hundreds of different things to determine a page’s ranking in search results. While Core Web Vitals will surely be an important element, it is only one of many factors. A well-optimized website which includes targeted meta descriptions, alt text, and high quality, relevant content could conceivably rank well even if it had a poor page experience signal.
However, one Google study determined that users are 24% less likely to abandon a website if it meets the “Good” criteria for all three Core Web Vitals metrics. That represents a lot of prospects that could potentially become clients of your law firm! Here at the Academy, we began updating all of our Member websites back in March in order to be ready for the Page Experience signal, but it’s not too late for you to run some tests, contact your web team, and make sure your website is set up for success!
Director, Web and Online Marketing Services
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128
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