Prepare Your Site for Core Web Vitals

What Are Core Web Vitals?

Google has a whole range of different metrics they measure to ensure a page is providing a good experience to visitors; Core Web Vitals are the latest addition to this.

If you don’t perform well on these metrics then it may impact your rankings on Google.

The exact metrics that are included in Core Web Vitals will change and evolve over time, but for now they are the following:

  1. Largest Contentful Paint: This is Google’s new measure of how fast a page loads. They will look at how long it takes to load the largest element that’s viewable when the page loads. This could be an image, block of text, video etc. Large is determined by the percentage of the screen the element takes up.
  2. First Input Delay: This metric looks at how long it takes before you can interact with a page. If you click a button, how long does it take for the page to recognize the button was clicked.
  3. Cumulative Layout Shift: This metric measures how much the page shifts around while it’s loading. You’ll get a bad score on this metric if slower loading items cause already loaded items to shift.

When Will Core Web Vitals Start Impacting My Rankings?

Rankings

Google has said they will be bringing Core Web Vitals in as a ranking factor in May 2021 so they’ve given plenty of warning. However, Google has history in changing their release dates for things like this, so it’s worth noting that this is subject to change.

How Much of an Impact Will Core Web Vitals Have?

It’s always hard to estimate how much of an impact any update will have on rankings, as Google doesn’t provide this information publicly. It’s unlikely that sites that perform poorly on these metrics are going to suddenly disappear from the search results.

A lot of the worlds biggest websites have low scores – it’s likely that other factors such as content and links will still be the determining factor when it comes to how you perform in the rankings. Having a high score alone will not be enough to out rank the competition.

But good performance on these metrics should still be something to aim for, both for search engine performance, and users’ experience on your website.

How Does This Relate To Self Storage?

This is going to be a broad change which affects websites across every industry.

There’s nothing in particular that would mean the self storage sector is impacted more than anywhere else.

One possible area that may be affected are unit size estimators. A lot of storage websites are now starting to use these and depending on how well they are coded there’s a chance that these could impact the layout shift when loading, so this is something to look out for if you have a feature like this on your site.

How to Check Your Current Performance?

Fortunately Google has given us advanced notice of these changes, and also provided tools to highlight any issues and correct them ahead of time.

There are a couple of ways to view your performance.

Search Console

Within search console you should see a tab under the enhancements section labelled ‘Core Web Vitals’

From here you will be able to see how your pages perform on site and drill down into any problematic areas.

PageSpeed Insights

To understand the specific issues with an individual URL you can use the PageSpeed Insights tool – https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

Simply enter the URL you would like to review and you’ll get a report detailing your performance along with more detail on each of the areas. Here’s an example report run for Public Storage:

What to Do If You Fail the Core Web Vitals Assessment

It’s understandable if the results of your Core Web Vitals assessment go right over your head if you’re not a web developer. If your search console tells you that you’re performing well on your core web vitals, then you have nothing to worry about.

If your site fails however, it might be worth using the tools mentioned above to generate a report. You can then approach this in house if you have the expertise, or show the report to your web developer and go through what can be done to improve these metrics.

Summary

Again, it’s worth pointing out that it’s unclear right now how much of an impact Core Web Vitals will have on your rankings – so ROI will need to be taken into consideration when improving these.

It’s also worth reiterating that a low score on PageSpeed Insights does not necessarily translate to a poorly performing website.

While writing this article we checked the metrics for

  • Public Storage
  • Extra Space Storage
  • Big Yellow
  • Cube Smart
  • StorageMart

Out of all these sites, StorageMart was the only site to pass the Core Web Vitals assessment according to PageSpeed Insights. They still only managed a PageSpeed Insights score of 44.

So while this report is a good place to start a conversation with your web dev team, don’t be too harsh on them if you’re not scoring 100%.

We’ll keep you updated if we get more information, or if Google changes the date when this will start impacting rankings. You can also keep updated on the official Core Web Vitals page from Google – https://web.dev/vitals/

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