Today, we are going to talk about core web vitals, the new algorithm change from Google and what it means for law firms.
So the big picture here is that Google is about to roll out their core web vitals algorithm change. And this is one of what they call a broad core algorithm change. And they do this about four times a year.
You may have heard of some of these in the past, like Bert, possum, and a number of other fun names that they’ve dreamed up out in California.What’s really happening here is they have decided that they want to change the way that they are valuing websites and they put this into their algorithm and eventually it gets rolled out and it impacts sites.
So now this kind of new criteria is coming in. And it can really mean a lot in terms of shaking up the search results, where some websites gain some lose out and then things kind of settle down and then it’s back to just smaller algorithm changes.
So this is coming and the really most important thing out of this discussion here is that you want to continue to optimize your website and do it as routine maintenance or else you’re going to pay for it later down the road.
Core Web Vitals: Big Deal, Small Deal or No Deal?
The truth is with all of these algorithm changes or anything really by Google, you don’t know exactly what’s going to happen until you start to see it actually roll out. And so as of now, we’re in the unknown camp, but we’re kind of leaning towards small deal and the reason we think it’s a small deal is because this algorithm change was actually delayed. It was supposed to roll out in May, and then they put it into a new rollout date in June.
And my personal feeling on this was that it was going to disrupt too much of the search search result landscape.
They had to take some more time to kind of retool it and make sure it didn’t have a completely dramatic change on these search results and take and really go against kind of the fundamental problem they’re trying to solve is serving up good resources to the people who were searching them. And if their testing showed that maybe it did that. And it unfairly impacted certain sites that were good resources, because they didn’t have the specifications that they were looking for.
They may have decided that they needed to kind of retool it and pull back on some of their information.
Here’s the big deal: Google is consistently improving their algorithm and really focusing on delivering an amazing mobile experience that is going to load quickly and load in a way that is visually appealing to everyone on the globe, whether you’re on a one gigabyte, a super fast internet line, or you’re coming in from a dial up somewhere throughout the world.
Core Web Vitals: LCP
So let’s get into the three main parts of this core web vitals. And that’s these acronyms LCP, CLS, and FID. LCP is going to be the first element that comes up on a website.
The idea here is that as you come to the initial part of a website as it’s loading, how fast is it going to load and what you want to keep in mind here is that this is things like the other things like images, the first image that loads up on your website or any other piece of your homepage.
The big picture here is that you want to optimize it as much as possible. And what we really mean by that is to compress it. And so as a takeaway here for LCP, look at how quickly your website loads, and if it takes a while, then there stands to be an area of opportunity for you to go in and make an optimization for it.
Core Web Vitals: CLS
This means cumulative layout shift, and this really comes down to other bunch of elements dancing around at first when you load up your website and then do they settle into a set position.
Now, this is more common with sites that are commercially oriented and trying to monetize that traffic through advertising and are going to see a lot of pop-ups things like that, or just different changes, but really what you want to keep in mind here is as someone comes on your website, if things are moving around and there’s lots of activity, that’s not a great experience for the user. They really came to your website because they clicked on a search result and they want to kind of get the answer to their solution.
They didn’t come for a lot of this other stuff that a lot of website owners kind of try to push on that website user.
So you really want to think about making sure as the user comes on, that they get exactly what they’ve signed up for. And that there’s not a lot of other stuff coming in and loading all about the page where you have to get somebody to click out of a bunch of items just to get what they need.
Core Web Vitals: FID
First input delay. Pop-up share buttons, widgets at the start and this delays the user’s ability to take the first action. You can think about this in another way, where, how long does it take before someone can actually make a click or scroll on your website.
This is super important because it’s very similar to the area we just talked about with CLS, but it’s a little bit different in that. It’s going to really figure out it’s looking at your website and saying, how long does all of this other stuff have to load up? And whether it’s, like I said, widgets, share buttons, pop-ups anything like that. If that is the Lang the user’s ability to go click and scroll, then it’s going to be problematic.
Whether you’re here in the United States or you’re somewhere internationally without a good broadband connection. That really they have about the same experience, all across the globe or all across the United States. And maybe even rural parts where Internet speed is hard to come by, this is really just what we talked about a second ago.
So we’ve got these different areas, and then you get into some of the scores or the goals that Google is really looking for, which they’re still kind of baking in the oven right now.
Core Web Vitals: The Big Picture
So for me, it’s all about treating your website like your own house, right? And with that in mind, you want to schedule regular maintenance.
If you think something may not be functioning properly and it’s better to deal with it now and do some of that scheduled maintenance now rather than wait and pay handsomely for it later, the most important thing with all of this and it’s really a mindset shift that we like to talk about with our clients, which is: Think about websites and your website in particular is a dynamic resource that needs to be changed and improved over time, because there’s a kind of bad myth out there that you just need to kind of optimize your site once or put the right keywords on there once and set it and forget it.
The reality is that there are so many changes happening within the search results and with what Google’s doing, their algorithm is making changes on a daily basis. And so these protocols, these ideals that Google is looking for as far as guidelines of how a website should function, how fast it should load, they’re literally changing every day.
So you can’t think about your website as this monolithic thing that you did a couple of years ago, and it doesn’t really need any work done on it.
When the reality is that you should be kind of constantly looking at how can you improve it? Is it working well on all different devices? How fast does it load? All of these things go into that user experience. And it’s going to continue to play an even bigger picture as we go down the road and Google continues to go in this direction as they have switched to a mobile first index, and they’re going to continue to prize these elements of functionality instead of what’s on your website so much.
So keep an eye out for this and it’s going to continue to happen over the rest of this year. So now you might be curious, well, how do I test this on my own website and how would I even know if this is going to be something that I need to worry about on my own website. And am I prepared for when this shift actually happens?
How To Be Prepared?
You can go search those to pop your website in, and it’s going to give you a pretty good idea of how you stack up using Google’s own testing tools. So GTmetrix, we like it a lot, and you can pop that website in there. And it’s going to give you really specific data about how a certain image on your homepage is making your website load really slowly or that it requires a long time for that first input action by the user. These are all things that you want to look at. And really get a better idea of how Google sees your website, because ultimately that’s what we’re trying to influence. And it’s that space where you can really make a difference to put yourself up on the first page.
If you don’t want to go through that or you get to that page, you get to those results and you have no idea what’s going on give us a shout because we are happy to go take your website, put it into some of these tools and kind of give you a baseline report of where you’re at, even if you’re not a client. We’re already working on developing these changes and incorporating them into our own client websites, and we’re seeing good success just right now. With doing some of these improvements where we’re really getting our websites, moving at a lightning pace and improving, moving on some of the functionality and things that Google is talking about in that core web vitals updates.
Core Web Vitals: Top Tips
You can also do some of this stuff yourself. And so here are a couple of top tips to focus on if you are the one managing your website.
Invest in modernizing your website
Updating your plugins, updating your server, updating the site files, all the things that go into keeping that website up and running.
Optimize your images
When we’re optimizing sites for speed, for responsiveness the number one issue that we commonly see is websites with heavy, bulky images. And what I mean by that is if you get a website file, like from your iPhone or from a professional photographer, those files are going to be like two megabytes. They’re going to be enormous files in the context of the internet.
So Google is looking for very small files, highly compressed optimized files, so that they load as quickly as possible. Spend the time optimizing your images or talk to your manager, your SEO manager, who can help with this.
Don’t load your site up with junk
What I mean by that is be really specific and really thoughtful and strategic. About the items that you add to your website.
We often see people asking about, should we have videos on the website? Should we have a chat? Should we have exit popups? Should we do all this stuff? And the answer is a lot of those things are great, but there is a cost, right? And often when you have a chat bot on your website, it’s going to require. The chatbot goes and gets resources from a completely different website coming back, and these things all slow down the movement of your website for it to load and for that person to actually be in it.
So, if you’ve tried chat or something like that in the past that hasn’t gotten great results, consider removing it because you’re probably paying a pretty significant price in terms of load speed and if you’re not getting that value from people chatting and using it as a really useful sales channel.
For your law firm, then I would think about skipping it and the same goes for some of these other items as well.
Thanks so much for sticking as long as we’ve gone through this. Please feel free to reach out and, I’m happy to just point you to resources or do some of that sample testing as well. So thanks so much and really appreciate your time.