Google’s main aim is to ensure that whenever somebody carries out a search using their search engine, only the best and the most relevant results are displayed at the top.
This means that the team over at Google are constantly looking at new ways to accomplish this. Every so often, they release something that completely shakes up their ranking algorithm. At Sanders Design, we keep up to date with these changes. An area that has seen a lot of focus recently is the mobile page speed test, but we will discuss this in more detail later.
Google core vitals 2021 update
Each year, Google releases a couple of significant updates to the way that they rank their websites. This will be among several more minor updates. However, it is the major updates that have the most drastic impact on the way that websites are ranked. It isn’t uncommon to find somebody ranked in 1st place one day and 10th place the next day, all because the update took them by surprise.
The next major Google update to hit is Google Core Vitals, which should be landing in May 2021. As with most updates, the Google Core Vitals 2021 will carry a wealth of changes to the Google ranking algorithm (I am already on top of them, don’t worry!), but the one I want to focus on here is more changes related to the speed of websites and the idea of using a mobile page speed test.
Google has always focused on ranking websites based on how fast they load. In fact, speed has been one of the more important ranking factors in recent years. If your website didn’t load quickly, then you would really struggle to rank in Google, no matter how good your content is.
With this update, Google is introducing three measurement metrics for page speed. I don’t want to get too technical here. This update is rather complex, and since we are still about 1.5-months from the release of the algorithm, we still do not know everything that it entails.
We do know that the three measurement metrics will be:
Yes. The names can be somewhat of a mouthful, but I can assure you, they are easy to understand! Perhaps not quite so easy to work out how you should be using them when analysing a mobile page speed test, but it is still easy to understand the intention of them. Let me explain.
Largest contentful paint
This is just a rather fancy way of talking about how quickly the main content on a website loads. Well, some of the main content.
In the past, Google would rank based upon how quickly the first content on your website would load. It decided that this wasn’t the best way. With the Google Core Vitals update, it wants to look at how quickly the largest piece of text or image on your website loads and any mobile page speed test will take this into account.
The idea is that the website should, mostly, be done loading within 2.5-seconds of somebody first landing on your website.
First input delay
Again, a rather fancy name for something that is quite simple. First input delay refers to how quickly the website reacts when somebody clicks on a button, link, or whatever else you want somebody to interact with on your website.
Google wants this to be pretty snappy. It should be 100ms. Yep. That is milliseconds. However, don’t worry. It isn’t a particularly tricky target to attain. I was able to hit this easily using the systems I use to design websites for my clients (more on those soon!)
Cumulative layout shift
We are sure that you have had this happen to you before:
Irritating, right? This is because (to keep things simple), the layout of the website is loading a lot slower than everything else. Google wants to stamp this out.
Google is not going to measure based upon the speed it takes for everything to settle, though. Instead, they give the website a ranking based upon several factors, e.g. how much the page shifts about, how often it shifts about, time for the page to settle, etc.
Google wants this number to be at 0.1 maximum. Anything higher and your ranking in the searches will be sorely impacted.
As I said, I only want to give you the briefest of overviews of the Google Core Vitals update right now. Partly because Google has yet to release all of the information that you need to know, and partly because a lot of the information can be quite complicated and there isn’t any real need to learn it unless you are operating in the world of SEO.
So, if you are one of my clients, don’t worry. I will be learning all of this and using my knowledge to make your website run better.
I do want to go through a bit of information on how this is accomplished here at Sanders Design, though.
Is your website mobile-ready?
In almost every single niche, I am certain that at least 50% of the website visitors will be through mobile devices. In some niches, this can climb as high as 60-70%. This number is only going to get bigger.
Before you take the mobile page speed test into account, a lot of knowing whether your website is mobile-ready is a quick ‘visual check’. This means loading up your website on your mobile device and checking whether you can click links, read text, etc. easily. This means that you don’t have to do any unnecessary scrolling.
A modern website should use something known as ‘responsive design’. This means that the website should change the way that it looks to suit the size of the screen it is being viewed on i.e. a website would look different on a desktop computer than it would on an iPhone.
In all of my designs here, I use the Kadence theme. I will talk a little bit more about this soon. However, rest assured that any of the websites that I build for my clients will be responsive design and will always work on mobile devices. This means that you won’t be alienating half of your audience.
The visual check probably won’t always be enough, though. As a result, you can always check whether your site is mobile-ready by heading to this website: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
Will your website pass the mobile page speed test?
Honestly? If you haven’t put any effort into improving the speed of your website, I doubt it. The Google Core Vitals update seeks to reward the people who do put effort into boosting their website’s speed.
It is going to be very, very rare for somebody to launch a site and have it pass the mobile page speed test ‘out of the box’. Even the websites I create for my clients include optimisation as part of the build.
Thankfully, there are tools out there that you can use to check whether your site will pass the mobile page speed test. These tools can also help when it comes to the site loading up on your desktop too.
While there are paid monitoring tools, I have always been a fan of using the free tools that Google provides. After all, which company is in a better place to tell you whether your site is loading quickly than the one that designed the metrics in the first place.
If you tap your URL into this link, you should be able to get an idea as to whether you are likely to pass the speed tests coming in the Google Core Vitals update: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
If it doesn’t, then Google gives some handy tips on boosting your speed. Although, to be honest with you, a lot of these tips will involve you diving into the underlying coding of your website. This is something that can likely only be carried out by a web design expert.
I suggest that you keep tabs on the page speed insights given on that website. You should always be striving to improve them. If they fall, then you need to know why they are falling. I can assure you that after the Google Core Vitals update, the sites that appear near the top of the searches will always be the ones that are keeping on top of their mobile page speed test monitoring.
Google has also created browser plugins for Google Chrome that you can use to analyse any website’s metrics. This includes your own.
What can influence the speed of your website?
So, your website is a little bit slow. Why is this? Well, several factors can influence the speed of your website. So many that it would be nigh on impossible for me to list them all here. However, I will go through the main ones that I often encounter when I am analysing websites.
I hardly ever see this appear on lists of what can impact page load speed. However, I find it one of the most important ones.
As you may well know, when you launch a website, you need to host it somewhere online. A lot of companies in the UK actually look to having their websites hosted in the US. This is because it is cheaper. The problem? It is slow.
Sure. Internet connections are fast, but sending data to and from another country, particularly across a huge ocean, is not going to be snappy. It will take a few seconds.
If you are in the UK, as many of my clients are, then look for a web host in the UK. It is more expensive, but you will see a greater increase in your Google search position, which helps!
Text on page
This isn’t probably as much of a problem now as it was in the past. Most internet connections should be able to load text content in a fraction of a second. However, do remember that the more text you have on your page, the slower the page load speeds.
Images; videos on page
This is where most people struggle. They have too many images and videos on a page. In most cases, these images and videos will also be incredibly poorly optimised.
If you have images and videos on a page, then make sure that they are important for what you are trying to accomplish. You also need to make sure that they are optimised (i.e. use proper file formats), or you stand no chance of them passing a mobile page speed test for Google Core Vitals 2021.
Poor website coding has been the downfall of many websites. Poor coding practices include using outdated code, lengthy pieces of code that accomplish something that can easily be accomplished in a few lines, code that ‘loops’, code that provides errors, etc.
This isn’t really something that you can deal with yourself. Well, not unless you know to code. The solution I use (and I will discuss in a short while) deals with most of these coding issues.
How Sanders Design can help you
Here at Sanders Design, all of the websites that I build are ready to pass the mobile page speed test for Google Core Vitals. In fact, the websites I build have been able to pass these speed tests long before I knew that a Google algorithm update was coming along.
I use WordPress as the backend of all of the websites I design. I have then thought long and hard about what I should use with WordPress to ensure the best experience for both my clients and their website visitors.
This why we use:
Some label Gutenberg as a ‘page builder’, but it is so much more.
Whenever creating content for your website, I will use a WordPress feature known as Gutenberg. Essentially, this will allow me to get the layout of your content just right.
However, the way in which Gutenberg helps build and load those pages ensures that your content loads a lot faster.
After carrying out mobile page speed test after the mobile page speed test, I have found Gutenberg to be, by far, the best system for creating fast-loading content. I have seen increases of 20-30% on websites that seemed pretty well optimised before.
Gutenberg will help you to get a little bit closer to achieving the ‘largest contentful paint’ speed goals in the Google Core Vitals update.
If you have a website built by us, Gutenberg will allow you to add your own content to your website, safe in the knowledge that it will always be optimised for speed.
Kadence is a theme for WordPress. However, unlike other WordPress themes, it doesn’t just exist to make your site look pretty. In fact, the base look of Kadence is nothing like what your final website will look like.
As you know, the team here at Sanders Design creates bespoke web designs. This means that we take what you want in a site and build a design for your website based upon your needs as a client. Some custom imagery, branding, etc.
We build all of this bespoke design on top of the Kadence theme.
The Kadence theme has become a popular option as one of the fastest loading themes for WordPress. This is because it is lightweight, responsive, and follows good coding practices. If you have the Kadence theme as the backbone of your WordPress site, you will likely end up with a site that is faster than 90% of other WordPress sites out there.
Essentially, the Kadence theme will allow your website to pass the following two tests:
We have seen many sites, many of which we have designed, see a drastic increase in their search engine position once they switched over to the Kadence theme. This is why we recommend using Kadence when creating WordPress websites.
Is your website ready to pass the mobile page speed test? Get in touch with the team here at Sanders Design today. We can tell you whether your website is ready for Google Core Vitals. If it isn’t, then we can offer an affordable bespoke web design package to help you get there. Work with us, and we can help you to increase traffic generate more leads.