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Core Web Vitals is about your users.

A big update to Core Web Vitals is upon us and will include many factors that we’ve been talking about for the past four years. Unlike many other reports, Core Web Vitals only uses data gleaned from real customers as they travel through your site. This enforces our belief that great rankings and awesome UX go hand in hand.

  • Retail Global suffers at the hands of lockdowns. Again.
  • What is the Core Web Vitals update?
  • The relationship between technical SEO and UX.
  • What makes Core Web Vitals different?
  • Focus on the user, not Google.


Hey, welcome back Rankers. How are you going? I want to talk to you about the big update coming, here already, Core Web Vitals. But before we get into that, please take this opportunity in the pause in programming to smash that like button, and your avocado, if you’ve got some. Thank you for that tip, I think it was Chad. Smash the like button and the subscribe button, by the way. Tell your friends.

First of all, I just want to say a big shout out to Phil Leahy, to Ash, to Luke, to Emma Scullion at Retail Global, who, for the second year in a row, has just had their Retail Global conference cancelled the day it started because of lockdowns. So much for the retail community, so absolutely devastating for the people who were exhibiting, the people who already travelled to be there, and of course the Retail Global crew itself. So big shout out to those guys, and stay tuned and watch them, because they’re going to be doing some virtual stuff to make up for what they couldn’t do this week.

Core Web Vitals

So this came out from Google this week. A little bit more information about this upcoming update, which is imminent. In April, we’re going to get this. And about four years ago, we got the idea that maybe user experience is just as important for SEO as the things we think are normal SEO. In fact, we took it one step further. In fact, we’ve said in this video here from four years ago that some of the things we were doing for technical SEO turned out to be great for user experience. So since then, we’ve been focused on the user experience and how it impacts revenue for our e-commerce clients. Now, everything I’m talking about today is in relation to e-commerce because what the Core Web Vitals is about is how people are using your website. Now, you can go and have a look at the Lighthouse report in, or at Lighthouse, or in Chrome Lighthouse report, all these different reports that tell you about load times, Core Web Vitals, speed, all these different things. They’re simulations. That’s not the real data.

But the Core Web Vitals update is using real data from users. So how people work through your site. So it’s not based on how the algorithm sees your site, it’s based on how the algorithm is interpreting the data from users who use your site, if that makes sense. So everything that we talk about with mystery shopping and those sorts of things is really important because it’s normal people trying to use your site. It’s not technical people trying to use your site. It’s not user case testing and those sorts of things. It’s not about that, it’s about how can I shop on your site? And I was just having this conversation today with a client where it’s like we’re your online sales team, essentially. And what our job is is to make sure we maximise our online salespeople, which are our channels. That’s search, that’s social, that’s how they’re coming in on a device, that’s how they’re moving throughout your store, that’s making sure that the store is laid out correctly, that’s making sure people can check out easily, that it’s not confusing, all of these things.

And what we noticed when we started working on those sorts of things, rankings tended to go up anyway, but it turned out the client wasn’t that concerned about them because revenue was through the roof. And that’s what I would say to you, if you have an e-commerce site, is don’t worry terribly much about the Core Web Vitals. Because if you go down that path of worrying about your Core Web Vitals, and your Content Layer Shift, and your First Contentful Paint, and your FID, which the acronym escapes me at the moment. They’re all really good things, but that’s what the machine can look at and give you a calculated score at. But just optimise for your users. Do a mystery shop, find out what the problems are people are having with your site. And that will go a lot more to increasing everything about your site, the traffic, the rankings, revenue, than just focusing on my First Contentful Paint.

Worry about your users

How do I get that lower? Because if you’re thinking about the user, those things tend to happen. You look for those things. And some of this stuff around First Contentful Paint and all these sorts of things, they’re good to look at, but you should be looking at the different channels, segment your data in Google Analytics, understand what the best performing channels devices are, and optimise based on that, because that can tell you what Google already knows. Because if those people are transacting, you find the best transacting channel device, then you know they’re having the best experience. And from that, you can just replicate that experience out across your other channels and devices. Work out what’s working. Quite often, the thing that always comes up for us is that it’s hard to find the product that I’m looking for and transact easily. I was just having this conversation with another client the other day about the online Salesforce thing, and I said, “For a lead gen site, we can’t look at revenue because we don’t influence your sales team. We can only influence the website.”

And that’s why e-commerce sites, we are the online sales channel and we work with our clients to maximise that. So just be aware, yes, Core Web Vitals is coming out, understand what it means, obviously. It’s basically how easy it is to use your site, basically, and make sure your site is easy. And you’d be shocked and stunned to know that just the little tiniest things like a word can make a big difference, an icon can make a big difference, a colour change can make a big difference. All of these things make a big difference. So focus on the user, not on Google, like we started doing four years ago, and you’ll be fine. Hopefully that’s helpful. If you’ve got any questions, put them in the comments. If you’ve got anything you’d like me to cover, put them in the comments, please. And thank you for the comments so far. I’m on LinkedIn and YouTube. That’s about it these days. Please catch up with me, hookup, and we’ll see you next week or the week after. Thanks very much. Bye.

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