If you want your website to rank well in Google’s search engine results, you need to follow Google’s rules. Right now, that means getting on top of its latest update to Core Web Vitals – a set of factors that fuel the page experience ranking signal.
Simply put? There are now more boxes you need to tick 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 expert web builders researched 3,000 URLs of top ecommerce website builders to see exactly how they were performing against Google’s performance goals.
What are the Essentials of the Web?
First of all, let’s be clear on what exactly you’re dealing with. The essentials of the web are made up of three main factors, which fuel Google’s overall page experience ranking signal. This is why Core Web Vitals is so important – get good results and your rankings will benefit. Score poorly and your ranking will drop.
The three main factors of Web Vitals are:
1. The largest content paint (LCP): Measures the load time of the main content of a page – aim for 2.5 seconds or less
2. First entry delay (FID): Measures how long it takes for a page to become interactive – aim for less than 100 milliseconds
3. Cumulative Shift Arrangement (CLS): Measure unexpected content movement – aim for a score below 0.1
Website Builders: Pros And Cons Of The Page Experience Signal
Core Web Vitals powers Google’s Page Experience ranking signal, which also measures factors like speed, security, mobile usability, and intrusive pop-ups.
So how do website builders fare against Google’s page experience metrics?
Website builders: strengths
These days, it’s unusual to find a website builder that doesn’t provide responsive mobile templates as standard, and many even allow you to modify your mobile design!
Good website builders include free Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates on all counts, to provide HTTPS encryption for data that visitors send to your site – payment or login information, for example. It sends a good message to visitors and to Google, so it’s a win-win!
Website builders: weaknesses
Website builders struggle in this area – most of the time they agree, 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 while using a website builder.
Ecommerce Website Builders: Critical Impact on the Web
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 ecommerce 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 âNeeds Improvementâ category – none of them rated âGoodâ in Google’s eyes !
Key points to remember
# 1. Mobile performance is poor across the board
Mobile websites struggled to measure up 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. . Desktop sites have always performed better than mobiles.
Only Wix received a âGoodâ score for CLS on desktop – no platform managed it on mobile. Most platforms scored above 0.3 on desktop and mobile, placing the majority of website builders in the âpoorâ CLS category. This makes CLS one of the most difficult Core Web Vitals to achieve good results!
# 3. Shopify has the fastest server response time
Google’s recommendation for server response time is less than 600 milliseconds, which most platforms supported. The fastest on desktop and mobile was Shopify, while the slowest was Wix’s mobile score of 1,218 milliseconds, more than double the time recommended by Google!
How to optimize your website
It’s clear website builders still have a way to go to live up to Google’s expectations, but what can you do to optimize your website? A lot of tips talk about optimizing your hosting and code, which you don’t have much control over when using a web builder. Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do:
Before you start: test your website
The first thing to do is see exactly how your website is performing right now. This shows you which areas your website is performing well and which areas need improvement.
Google PageSpeed ââInsights 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 crawls the page for you, providing scores, ideas, and tips 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 that you can quickly see the overall improvements.
A simple website template means less code, which in turn translates into faster load times. Fast load times are a big SEO factor, so a simple template can greatly improve 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 install 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 have 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 sites with a lot of code, 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 shrink 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 engaging website – the problem is, they’re heavy. To combat this, try compressing your images. This reduces the size of the image file without affecting the visual quality, and it’s simple 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 achieve a better LCP score – you should aim for 2.5 seconds or less. Run your website through PageSpeed ââInsights and check out the diagnostics section to find out which item your LCP is!
Make sure to constantly test your mobile site – Google usually determines rankings based on how well your mobile site is performing, so keeping it fast and smooth is essential. Load speed and CLS are two important factors to watch out for on mobile, so pay close attention to these in your PageSpeed ââInsights results.
# 8. Using 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 built in, while others allow you to use your own – it’s always worth checking out, 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 big culprits in dragging CLS scores down, so try to minimize or avoid them on your site. Plan a fixed layout and give each element enough space so things don’t load on top of each other or jump across the page.
#ten. Stay on top of your usual SEO
It can be easy to get completely drawn into trying to get the best possible Core Web Vitals scores. But don’t neglect your day-to-day SEO practices – the main goal of optimizing for Core Web Vitals is to get good rankings in Google, but there’s no point if you drop metadata, alt text, security, internal linking, and keyword oriented content! Keep up the good work in all of these areas, as well as the optimization of 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 good rankings. Find out more in this infographic, which explains in even more detail the impact of Core Web Vitals – and what you can do to manage them!
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