Updated Post: Google recently delayed the rollout of the Core Web Vitals update to mid-June. However, the below still rings true.
I often say in SEO everything is relative. It can be frustrating to some, because “it depends” is a common answer in the SEO world. Factors change based on searcher intent so every search has a different competitive landscape. With the coming Core Web Vitals adjustment to the Google search algorithm in May, there will be lots and lots of info out there on speed and core web vitals for SEO. Unfortunately, many companies will use it as a scare tactic to small business owners.
Do You Need to Prioritize Core Web Vitals for Your Small Business Website?
When it comes down to it, boosting your site speed is always helpful. Studies continue to show that a faster page speed leads to a higher conversion rate, so even without bringing SEO into the picture, it is a good idea to keep your eye on ways to consistently get faster, without sacrificing functionality or user experience.
That being said, small business SEO has always been about the best use of your resources to move the needle and rank for what converts for you, so before diving into your core web vitals too far, you should get a general feel for your competitive landscape. I’m not saying Core Web Vitals don’t matter, just that in your market they may not matter as much as in national news markets, etc. It is always best to know before you make resource decisions.
Great Speed Comparison Tool
A great new speed tool is available from Reddico. This tool will allow you to put in a search phrase and your page on your site and then run a test to show your competitor’s page speed. The tool is great. I have to admit I have had it get hung up and return no results for me a few times, but that may be due to it being new and popular. When you do get results it can be very helpful. If your main target phrases have first-page competitors that are all slower than you, that may not be your top priority. Of course, it is great to have perfect scores everywhere, but with limited resources, if you are already faster than these competitors, you may want to prioritize content improvements, internal linking, external links, or some other factors to catch the leaders.
As we get closer to the “Core Web Vitals” update, we may soon see more helpful tools like this. More information can turn your “it depends” answers into more clearly defined and actionable strategies. More speed always helps, but it may not always be the top priority for improving your rankings. Google is even offering page experience information in Google Search Console now, which I highly recommend business owners setting up for their site. There is a lot of important information in there about how Google views your site and it is fairly straightforward to get set up, especially if you already have Google Analytics on your site, which you should. For some small businesses, it can be frustrating and incomplete, however, in regards to the user experience data. This is why it can be helpful to use other third-party tools that mimic what Google is looking for, like GT Metrix.
Keep in mind that every page has its own score. Though similar pages on the same site are likely to perform similarly, there can be significant differences between a home page and a blog post page because of the different elements involved. You should always test specifically on the page you are trying to rank with for that particular search query.
For more help with your small business SEO strategy, as always, give us a shout.