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Calling all B2B Marketers: How much should you care about Core Web Vitals?

Chloe Steele

Take one look at your device's report in Google Analytics. It probably tells you what you already knew; most of your traffic is from desktop users and your engagement rates are above average.

You assume that since desktop historically converts and engages better on your site, the experience of mobile users doesn’t matter as much, because mobile accounts for a much smaller percentage of your overall traffic, right?

This is an easy assumption to make, but often wrong. Here’s why.

B2B on the small screens

The number of searches made from mobile devices has overtaken desktops over the years. Since mobile-first indexing rolled out (more on this later), the mobile version of your website will always take priority over your desktop version in the eyes of search engines when it comes to those all-important organic search rankings.

The same goes for sites in the B2B space which mostly attract desktop traffic. So, it’s important to consider user experience and page speed on the small screens regardless of if your site is desktop-majority. 

So, what is the Core Web Vitals update? 

Core Web Vitals is one of the shiny new algorithm updates from Google which started rolling out mid-June 2021, expected to be completed by the end of August. It basically judges a webpage’s overall user experience on both mobile and desktop. 

The update focuses on a set of metrics that Google considers important. These consist of: 

1. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

In short: How long the content on a webpage takes to load after a user clicks on a web page link. 

2. First Input Delay (FID)

In short: How long it takes for a user to interact with your webpage. This includes clicking on a link in the top-navigation, opening an accordion to view text, or filling out a lead gen form. 

3. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

In short: How stable your webpage loads, if elements on your page move as the page loads, this could cause users to click on something they didn’t mean to, providing a bad UX. 

Why should you care?

Consider your content as the soul, whilst technical SEO is the backbone. Core Web Vitals metrics have already become a part of Google’s ranking algorithm used to calculate organic search result positions, so you should care. Page load speed and user experience have been ranking factors for a while now, so consider this an enhancement of what Google is already looking for.

You can test your page speed scores for both mobile devices and desktops to see where you fall in hitting the targets and where you need to improve. You’ll probably find your scores will be different for mobile due to desktops having a more reliable connection to the internet in comparison to mobile devices on a carrier’s data network, and often most sites still not being responsible for mobile.

Fixing or improving these metrics for your core pages, particularly the critical issues that are flagged for mobile devices will ensure you’re providing a technically good user experience for those who land on your site, demonstrating that your content meets users’ needs searching within your niche.

Be sure to put together an in-depth audit and roadmap to pass over to a trusted developer to implement any site speed / UX fixes.

Handy tools: Google PageSpeed insights, Search Console, Screaming Frog

Why should you care about Mobile-first indexing?

In the words of Google, this means:

“Mobile-first indexing means Google predominantly uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. Historically, the index primarily used the desktop version of a page’s content when evaluating the relevance of a page to a user’s query.”

As we already touched upon, the mobile version of your website will take priority over your desktop version in the eyes of Google, which means your site will primarily be crawled and indexed by a smartphone user-agent. Google favours sites that display properly and load fast for mobile users across all industries in the B2B space, regardless of if your site only drives a small percentage of mobile users.

Why should you care about Cross-device conversion paths?

It’s unlikely that a user who came across your brand found you for the first time on a desktop and stayed on a desktop every time they visited your website. Therefore, it is important to consider cross-device as interactions or conversions can easily occur between multiple devices for a sole user.

A prospect could be in their home office and come across your site via a desktop when searching for a particular service. Now aware of your brand, the same user may be on a busy train on the way to a meeting and perform an exact match brand search via their smartphone. The user would expect the experience to be the same, if the site loads considerably faster on a desktop and not on a mobile, the user will leave unsatisfied and probably think twice about your brand.

A site should load and be responsive for returning users even with poor connections on a mobile device. Whilst not essential, also making use of AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) if your client’s site publishes a lot of news or related articles that get picked up by Google Discover or uses landing pages as part of your paid campaigns.

UX and SEO: Why they make the perfect couple

User experience-related ranking signals have always been important within SEO, after all, you’re working together with, not against Google (although sometimes it feels like it) to serve relevant results to users where they can find what they came for. If you’re ranking top for some of your core keywords and traffic isn’t converting, it might be time to consider user experience.

There’s nothing worse than landing on a web page that takes ages to load and provides such a bad UX that you can’t even submit a contact form because the submit button doesn’t work. You’ve got about 3 seconds before your prospects are guaranteed to be headed straight back to the search results to find something better.

“The probability of bounce increases 32% as page load time goes from 1 second to 3 seconds.”Think with Google

So, no matter which industry or device-majority your client’s site falls under it’s something you need to get on top of. There are even talks of Google adding labels to search results to indicate which pages provide a good user experience and which pages are responsive.

If a site is identified as not being user-friendly or compliant with the Core Web Vitals update this could impact click-through rates, and even result in a decline in traffic for your clients.

Talk to us about improving your technical and UX SEO strategy. If you don’t know where to start when it comes to those all-important Core Web Vitals, we’ve got a team of SEOs and developers ready to lend a helping hand.