With the rise in online shopping, furniture retailers often have a particularly difficult time keeping customers in-store. Many smaller furniture shops are closing their doors after many years in business. Others are opening their business online in addition to their brick-and-mortar store. Still, others found that operating solely online was ideal, particularly during COVID-19. However, new changes are on the way that will impact every business’ website within every industry. You may have heard the term “Core Web Vitals.” Here’s what they are and what furniture retailers should know about them. So What are Google Core Web Vitals and how to prepare for Google’s algorithm changes. Why are they presenting a challenge to retailers? It starts with SEO.
It’s important that furniture retailers understand how to navigate basic search engine optimization (SEO). A furniture store’s website should be findable and usable by people within their target audience. There are a number of different factors that go into where a website appears in search results. For example, Google has been ranking websites based on factors like keywords, bounce rate, and page speed for many years.
What Are Google Core Web Vitals?
The web vitals scores are a set of particular elements defined by Google that are considered critical to a website user’s experience. Essentially, Core Web Vitals are a subset of criteria that will be included in Google’s “page experience” score. This is an indicator of how Google evaluates your website’s UX, or user experience. The better your Core Web Vitals, the better experience customers will have using your website.
Components of Google’s Core Web Vitals
There are just three specific page performance and user interaction metrics to learn what are Google’s Core Web Vitals. First input delay, largest contentful paint, and cumulative layout shift. Here’s a quick description of each.
First Input Delay
First input display, or FID, refers to the time it takes for a website user to interact with your page. It’s a page speed score in the sense that it does, in fact, track how long it takes for an action to occur on a page.
FID calculates the time it takes for people to actually complete a task on your page, such as selecting a menu item, clicking a link or using the nav bar, filling out a contact form, or viewing according text with a mobile smartphone or tablet. Google puts great importance on FID metrics, because they measure how real-life consumers interact with websites.
Largest Contentful Paint
Largest Contentful Paint, or LCP, refers to the time it takes for a web page to load from the perspective of a real user. Essentially, LCP describes the time it takes between clicking a link to when a user can view most of the website content.
LCP is distinct from other pagespeed indicators like First Contextual Paint or TTFB. The latter may not always reflect what it’s like to open a webpage for a user. LCP concentrates on the most important aspect of page speed, which is the consumer’s ability to quickly view and engage with your website.
Cumulative Layout Shift
Cumulative Layout Shift, or CLS, is a calculation that indicates how visually steady a website is as it loads. For example, if text or navigation items on your page move about while information populates, you likely have a high CLS.
Instead, you want the various pieces of your website to appear stable as each page loads. When loading is complete, visitors won’t have to re-learn where links, graphics, and text is located or risk accidentally clicking on the wrong thing.
Google Announcement for Core Web Vitals
Google’s goal is to return the most relevant content for any particular search term, listed in order of quality. This is generally according to Google’s search engine algorithms. In the past, Google only had a few metrics to determine a site’s relevancy to a user’s search term. For example, Google knew how to match user keywords to website content, and would therefore consider pages with the most instances of that keyword the most valuable.
Then, it became very easy for spammy content to rank. A website could have little to no authority with short, keyword-spammed posts and be in one of the top 5 Google spots. Google then revised its algorithms again, using new technology that weeds out much of the spam. However, content publishers were still able to use black hat SEO techniques and keyword stuffing to help poor-quality pages rank better.
Google continually strives to increase the granularity of its search metrics and revises its algorithms accordingly. What exactly Google looks at and how it determines which website pages are better than others isn’t exactly common knowledge though. In fact, it’s a heavily guarded secret. That said, the search engine giant does publish a few guidelines to help website owners know where to start. These are known as ranking factors, such as page speed and bounce rate mentioned above.
What Furniture Retailers Need to Know about CWV
On May 28, 2020, Google announced its plans to make the user experience a ranking factor in the next algorithm update. This means that for your furniture store’s website to continue ranking well online, your Core Web Vitals will need to be up to snuff. This does not include other SEO and ranking factors.
If you were ranking well and no longer are, it could be a result of the Core Web Vitals update. This is important to fix. If you don’t rank well for common search terms, fewer potential customers will find your brand. Naturally, this leads to a smaller bottom line.
When is Google Changing Algorithm?
Unfortunately, there’s little time left to improve your website’s Core Web Vitals before they start to make an impact on your page ranks. Google is currently rolling out the algorithm update globally and they expect to be completed in August 2021. However, you can (and should) continue to improve your site’s Core Web Vitals as an overall part of your search optimization strategy. It’s important to understand that perfection isn’t the goal. The top retailers aren’t receiving flawless results. So when you’re visiting the results from tools to measure performance, take it in stride.
What Changes Do Furniture Retailers Need to Make?
Furniture retailers can make several changes to their websites to improve their Core Web Vitals, including but not limited to:
- Compress and optimize images that appear on your website. Large, high-definition photos of couches, loveseats, and dining tables look great on websites, but they can cause astronomical load times. Many plugins exist for the optimization and compression of images, which allows them to load much faster. While having rich images to represent products online is critical for all business owners in the furniture industry, it’s even more critical that these pictures load quickly and allow users to browse before getting bored.
- Make it easy for users to take action right away. Make sure your links, web forms, and other calls to action are easily visible and can be accessed quickly. The faster users take an actual action on your website, like clicking a link, the better your First Input Display (FID) numbers will be and subsequently, the better your overall Core Web Vitals.
- Try out “lazy loading.” Lazy loading is a tactic for image loading that allows pictures to be loaded as the user scrolls down the page. It’s particularly effective for furniture retailers who use high-def images. This avoids affecting your site’s page speed and helps improve your Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) score. It also limits the usage of bandwidth on your site, improves SEO, and reduce your overall bounce rate by keeping visitors on your site engaging with your furniture content.
How to Check My Core Vitals Score
Website managers can get the grade from a number of free tools around the internet. We recommend using tools like:
- Google SearchConsole
- PageSpeed Insights
- Your Friendly MicroD Digital Marketing team
MicroD has led many furniture retailers to better SEO and website structure for nearly 30 years. We’ve heard you ask about what are Google Core Web Vitals and how you can react quickly. To learn about how eCommerce website platform foundations impact your furniture SEO, contact us today.