If you want your website to rank well in Google’s search engine results, you must follow Google’s rules. Right now, that means getting up to speed with its latest Core Web Vitals update — a set of factors that power the Page Experience ranking signal.
In simple terms? There are now more checkboxes to provide a great user experience and in doing so, show Google that your pages deserve to rank well!
There are plenty of Core Web Vitals tips for WordPress users, but what about the impact on website builders like Shopify, Wix, and Squarespace? The team of website builders researched 3,000 URLs from top e-commerce website builders to see exactly how they scored against Google’s performance targets.
What are Core Web Vitals?
First, let’s be clear about what you’re dealing with, exactly. Core Web Vitals are made up of three main factors, which feed into Google’s overall page experience ranking signal. That’s why Core Web Vitals are so important – get a good score and your rankings will benefit. Score poorly and your ranking will drop.
The three Core Web Vitals are:
1. Largest Content Painting (LCP): Measures the load time of a page’s main content – aim for 2.5 seconds or less
2. First Entry Delay (FID): Measures the time it takes for a page to become interactive – aim for less than 100 milliseconds
3. Cumulative Squad Layout (CLS): Measures unexpected content movement – aim for a score below 0.1
Website Builders: Advantages and Disadvantages of Page Experience Signal
Core Web Vitals feeds into Google’s Page Experience ranking signal, which also measures factors such as speed, security, mobile friendliness, and intrusive pop-ups.
So how do website builders fare against Google’s Page Experience metrics?
Website Builders: Highlights
It’s rare to find a website builder these days that doesn’t come with mobile responsive templates as standard, and many even let you edit your mobile design!
Good website builders include Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates for free on all plans, to provide HTTPS encryption for data transmitted by your site visitors – payment or login details, for example. It sends a good message to visitors and to Google, so it’s a win-win!
Website builders: weak points
Website builders struggle in this area – most of the time they are fine, but the general consensus is that they could be better when it comes to site speed. Slow loading can be especially frustrating as a website owner because you can’t change your site’s hosting or code when using a website builder.
Ecommerce Website Builders: Impact of Core Web Vitals
That website builders struggle with site speed isn’t just a generally accepted theory – Website Builder Expert’s research results back it up. After analyzing over 3,000 mobile and desktop URLs from seven major e-commerce platforms, it’s clear that Core Web Vitals will have a huge impact on unoptimized sites.
Overall performance scores show that even the top performing eCommerce website builder falls into Google’s “Needs Improvement” category – none of them are rated “Good” in Google’s eyes!
Key points to remember
#1. Mobile performance is poor across the board
Mobile websites struggled to perform against Google’s Core Web Vitals in all test areas, which is a worrying sign, especially since Google typically indexes mobile versions of sites, rather than desktop versions. office. Desktop sites consistently performed better than mobile sites.
Only Wix received a “Good” score for CLS on desktop – no platform passed it on mobile. Most platforms scored above 0.3 on both desktop and mobile, placing the majority of website builders in the “poor” CLS bracket. This makes CLS one of the hardest Core Web Vitals to get!
#3. Shopify has the fastest server response time
Google’s recommendation for server response time is under 600 milliseconds, which most platforms manage. The fastest on both desktop and mobile was Shopify, while the slowest was Wix’s mobile score of 1,218 milliseconds, more than double Google’s recommended time!
How to optimize your website
It’s clear that website builders still have a ways to go to meet Google’s expectations, but what can you do to optimize your website? Many tips talk about optimizing your hosting and code, which you don’t have much control over when using a web builder. Fortunately, you can do a lot of things:
Before you start: test your website
The first thing to do is to see exactly how your website is currently performing. This shows you which areas your website is performing well and which areas need improvement.
Google PageSpeed Insights is a great tool for testing your website’s performance. It’s free and easy to use – just type your URL into the search bar and it analyzes the page for you, providing scores, insights and advice on how to improve.
If you have Google Search Console, it’s also worth checking out its Core Web Vitals report, which is a new report using Core Web Vitals metrics.
Once you have this information, you can prioritize the areas that need the most improvement so you can quickly see overall improvements.
A simple website template means less code, which, in turn, leads to faster loading times. Fast loading times are an important SEO factor, so a simple template can go a long way to boosting your rankings.
Apps add extra weight to your website, so be ruthless – remove all unnecessary apps and third-party plugins, and limit the number you install. Always ask if the app you are installing is worth a slower website, and if the answer is no, leave it out!
Although you cannot change your hosting, you can change the subscription plan you are using. Basic plans tend to offer more limited functionality, which can lead to slower load times or even website crashes. Make sure you have enough storage and bandwidth to keep your site running smoothly.
Website builders automatically create code-intensive sites, and there’s not much you can do to change that. You usually don’t have access to your site’s code to remove unnecessary scripts or reduce your existing code. So be mindful of any changes you make that impact your site’s code – choose lighter fonts, for example, rather than heavy custom fonts that require more loading.
Images are important for engaging users and creating an attractive website. The problem is that they are heavy. To combat this, try compressing your images. This reduces image file size without affecting visual quality, and it’s easy and free with an online tool like Kraken.io or TinyPNG!
Knowing what Google identifies as your LCP is important because then you can help it load faster and get a better LCP score – you should aim for 2.5 seconds or less. Run your website through PageSpeed Insights and check the diagnostics section to find out which element is your LCP!
Make sure to constantly test your mobile site. Google generally determines rankings based on the performance of your mobile site. It is therefore essential that it works quickly and smoothly. Load speed and CLS are two important factors to monitor on mobile, so pay close attention to these in your PageSpeed Insights results.
#8. Use a CDN
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) helps websites load faster by storing copies of your site in different data centers, so users can connect to the server closest to them. Some website builders come with a CDN already integrated, while others allow you to use your own – it’s always worth checking, as each builder has different rules and integrations!
The more your content jumps as your page loads, the worse your CLS score will be. Things like ads and pop-ups are the main culprits for lowering CLS scores, so try to minimize or avoid them on your site. Plan a fixed layout and give each element enough space so that elements don’t load on top of each other or jump off the page.
#ten. Stay on top of your usual SEO
It can be easy to get totally caught up in trying to get the best Core Web Vitals scores possible. But don’t neglect your day-to-day SEO practices – the main goal of optimizing for Core Web Vitals is to rank well in Google, but that’s no use if you drop the ball on metadata, alt text , security, internal linking, and keyword-focused content! Keep up the good work in all of these areas, as well as optimizing for the new Core Web Vitals update.
Final Thoughts and Infographic
However, there is still a lot you can do to optimize your site and get great rankings. Find out more in this infographic, which further details the impact of Core Web Vitals – and what you can do to manage them!
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