More than a year has passed since Google announced a huge change to its algorithm. This update, known as the Page Experience update, is another step toward ensuring users get the best possible experience from using Google Search. There was more than enough time for agencies to focus on the new requirements and get ready for this change directed from Google itself. Especially for large marketing agencies that have the most responsibility in advising on and often managing their clients’ media performance. However, as our web development company in Chicago reveals in today’s article, according to Core Web Vitals results, most of them seem to have missed this deadline (August 31st, 2021).
In such a competitive industry like media and advertising, high SEO ranking and performance should be on the top of the priority list. Forward-thinking agencies like ours took the game more seriously and are all over the changes, while the one size fits all groups, perhaps feeling protected by their huge budgets, failed to act on the expectations of Google and its users.
What is the Page Experience update?
Mobile loading time has been in Google’s focus for a few years now, but this update takes things even further. Apart from requiring fast loading times on both mobile and desktop devices, Google has also introduced Core Web Vitals update, a set of tests that measure a range of user experience issues including:
- How quickly a page becomes interactive
- How long it takes for the first part of a page to load
- How long it takes for the largest element on a page to load
- Whether there are sudden shifts to the content
With a relatively small number of speed optimization experts out there, it’s somewhat challenging to find the level of technical skills necessary to meet Google’s new requirements. Furthermore, large platforms require a huge amount of work done on their core for websites to become compliant.
WordPress aims to be the first content management system fully optimized for this update, and there is no doubt that other open-source platforms will be rushing to catch up as soon as they realize the importance of the Core Web Vitals update.
Why is it so important?
Google made a lot of changes over the past few years. They have shifted to mobile-first indexing to address the increase of mobile search worldwide. They have also dedicated much more attention to secure certificates, put more emphasis on loading speed, and sent error reports for pages that do not fit mobile screen dimensions.
Each time Google introduces changes to its algorithm, website owners who fail to act upon it are affected by how well their digital asset ranks in Google Search results. It was easy to predict that the Core Web Vitals update would be a big thing since they gave us a year to prepare.
Agencies like ours that took things seriously immediately saw positive movements in search results, while those that underperformed experienced a drop in SERP rankings and fewer organic search visitors.
How well (or poorly) big agencies perform
Let’s start this section of our article with a bright side and showcase the way things should be done. A picture speaks a thousand words, so take a look at how our agency performs in Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
Remember that Google labels scores in this way:
- Poor: 0-49
- Needs improvement: 50-89
- Good: 90-100
Now, let’s continue by exploring how some of the biggest advertising agencies in the world perform.
Ironically, most large agencies such as iProspect are well aware of how valuable premium page experience is to their visitors and SEO efforts, especially following the update, but didn’t have the capacity to execute Core Web Vitals and break through the Good threshold of 90%. Their score currently stands at 52, which qualifies as Needs Improvement.
It is important to mention that we have no intention of taking a shot at any of these agencies. They are what they are due to the fact that they invested a lot of effort in building customer trust and delivering on their promises. This only goes to show how difficult of a task it is to comply with Core Web Vitals and how essential it is to prepare in advance. That being said, let’s move on and check the results of other major marketing agencies.
These three companies slightly missed the Needs Improvement mark:
- Leo Burnett Worldwide with a Poor score of 47
- Mindshare with a Poor score of 45
- Publicis Worldwide with a Poor score of 47
SmartSites, the top spot on the list of top 100 marketing agencies according to The Manifest, has a Needs Improvements score of 61, while the second place on the list, Moburst, has a Poor score of 27.
WPP plc is the single largest digital marketing multinational agency in the world, according to Projector. However, their website reached a Needs Improvement score of 59. Omnicom Group is placed second according to the same research, and their website also reached a Needs Improvement score which stands at 52 in Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
Why do big agencies fail to meet expectations?
It appears that many big agencies choose to neglect their Core Web Vitals score because they simply don’t know where to start when it comes to optimizing their websites for SEO and site speed. As mind blowing as this sounds, a study by screaming Frog shows that only 12% of mobile and 13% of desktop pages earn a passing score on the Core Web Vitals assessment. Furthermore, a large number of those pages were hosted on Wikipedia.
This is why we have put together an overview of the most important areas every website owner needs to address. Our agency has used this as an action plan to bridge the gap between SEOs and developers, which resulted in an outstanding Core Web Vitals score. These are the steps you need to make:
- Select three-page templates from your website
- Conduct a crawl and a user test to familiarize yourself with the current condition of these URLs
- Based on the randomness test, identify the main Core Web Vitals issues and mark the areas
- Work with developers and apply to a sprint road map
- Optimize the following issues based on the correlating tasks
Issue: Improve First Input Delay (FID)
- Reduce the impact of third-party code
- Minimize main tread work
- Keep requests low, and transfer sizes small
Issue: Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
- Ensure that resources are loaded asynchronously
- DOM elements must be dynamically added to the page above existing content
- Include size attributes on images and video elements
Issue: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
- Optimize the time needed for the largest content elements in the viewpoint to become visible
- Avoid multiple page credits
In an effort to organize the world of information, Google set many standards that shaped the way we advertise on the internet. Some moves were more than welcome, while others were met with skepticism by the community. Be as it may, the Core Web Vitals update is undoubtedly the strongest signal yet that shows how much Google values exceptional user experience. Keeping your website visitors engaged and satisfied is mandatory, and now we have more concrete parameters that can help pave the way to a great user experience. However, it seems that not all businesses are equally dedicated to this mission. A study by Searchmetrics shows that only 4% of the 2,000,000 websites studied achieved a good score in all 3 Core Web Vitals categories. It is high time for website owners to take action.
How well does your website perform on Google’s PageSpeed Insights? Are you struggling to provide a constant flow of traffic to your site? How well does your agency rank on search engine results pages? If you think you should do better, schedule a call and let us help.