Everyone knows that great customer experience is one of the factors which improve your patient experience at the practice. The better the customer experience, the happier the patient.
Google also recognises this, and now they are doing something about monitoring it!
Wow, so Google is now monitoring customer experience, right? Yes, but they are doing it on your website.
Think of Core Web Vitals as kind of BPE for your website, with Google as a dentist/hygienist.
Google will visit your website regularly and carry out a full BPE, it will note down the score and track the score. Because Google is using this as a customer experience metric for your website, the higher your score the more it is likely to send visitors to your website.
What happens if I don’t score very well?
Core Web Vitals are now an integral part of search engine optimisation… In other words, they are going to be included in some of the factors which decide how well your website ranks. If you get a low Core Web Vital score then your website will start to drop in the search results! Number 1 today, number 3 next week, number 5 the week after…Bad news!
Core Web Vitals are becoming part of Google’s ranking algorithm in May 2021. You wouldn’t want your patient to ignore their BPE score would you? So don’t ignore this!
Now we know broadly what Core Web Vitals are, let’s look a little bit more specifically. (If you don’t wish to know the technicalities of what’s going on here, please scroll down further to the section labelled What can you do about all of this)
Google is going to start monitoring 3 specific aspects of your website for the following metrics:
- Visual stability.
Google is basically saying that your website should load in a user-friendly way. Let’s say for example you have some really fabulous text on your site, but you also have one of those scrolling banners at the top of your website with large images.
Sometimes those large images take a while to load and whilst they do the user is waiting, I know you’ve seen this on websites… There could be a variety of reasons for this, anything from a slow server through to the way the code has been written.
Technically this is called a Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) and it reports the time it takes for the largest image or text block to be visible.
What is a good LCP? You should strive to have the LCP occur within 2.5 seconds of the page load.
Google is going to start monitoring this with something known as Total Blocking Time (TBT). Google is going to time how long it takes between the first section of content to load on your website and the point at which the user can interact with your website e.g. scroll or click on a link… In other words the total time that the user is blocked from interacting.
If the user is blocked for anything above 50 ms they are likely to notice the delay and perceive the page as being sluggish or lagging.
You’ve probably all visited a website where things begin to load and then start jumping around. It is very often happens on a mobile device. You might start reading a piece of content and then before you know what happened, it’s gone and you’ve lost your place… Or even worse, you go to click on a link but by the time your finger taps on the link, it’s changed and you’ve clicked on something else by accident.
Google is now going to start monitoring this unexpected movement (Cumulative Layout Shift) on your page, it’s going to monitor every single time all the layouts shift and time how long it takes for it to become stable.
What can you do about all of this?
How to check your core web vitals
- The first thing to do is to log into your search console. Google is going to start reporting.
- You may wish to do a detailed analysis of your website using Google Lighthouse.
How to analyse your site in Google Lighthouse
The simplest way is to open your website in Google Chrome.
Next, right click anywhere on the page and select “Inspect”, you should see this:
Click on the >> In the top right and select ‘lighthouse’, then click on ‘generate report’.
The report is quite lengthy but it does give you a good idea of where you can make changes.
The first set of Core Web Vitals That Google is going to monitor are largest content full paint, total blocking time and cumulative layout shift, as already mentioned.
Google will give you green for everything is okay, amber for warning and red for a more critical error. As you can see, the GDC website might feel a little bit sluggish due to the total blocking time.
If you have a WordPress website there are a few plug-ins which can do some of the work for you, here is one of them.
Unfortunately, unless you have knowledge of how websites are built and code then this new algorithm update is not going to be something you can fix yourself. You will need to have someone looking after your website on a technical level.
We don’t have long until May 2021 when this comes into force, so as part of my optimisation package for clients I am now going to be monitoring Core Web Vitals and reporting monthly.
As you can see in this image in my reports that I will be producing, this client’s page loading (Largest Contentful Paint) needs some work, it’s WAY too slow!
So I advise you TODAY to get in touch with your web company, ask them what they are doing about core web vitals, ask them to show you some reports on a monthly basis… If you don’t, you might find yourself sliding down the Google search positions until your website isn’t found any longer!