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Google FAQ Provides Core Web Vitals Insights

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Google FAQ Provides Core Web Vitals Insights

Core Web Vitals (CWV) is a set of metrics developed by Google to help website publishers improve page performance for the benefit of site visitors.

Webpage performance matters to publishers because fast pages generate more leads, sales, and advertising revenue.

Google recently published a document that provides insights into how CWVs work and their value for ranking purposes. This article discusses it.

Core Web Vitals Intended to Encourage a Healthy Web Experience

Page performance is important to site visitors because it reduces the time it takes for them to get what they want.

Beginning in mid-June, Core Web Vitals becomes a minor ranking factor. Some articles have overstated the importance of CWV as a being a critical ranking factor. But that’s not accurate.

Relevance has always been the most important ranking factor, even more important than page speed.

Statements from Google’s John Mueller assure that relevance will continue to be the stronger influence.

According to Mueller:

“…relevance is still by far much more important. So just because your website is faster with regards to Core Web Vitals than some competitors doesn’t necessarily mean that come May, you will jump to position number one in the search results.”

While Core Web Vitals may not necessarily have a noticeable impact on rankings, it remains inadvisable to ignore the metric. A poor-performing webpage causes disadvantages in other ways, such as lower earnings and possibly less popularity.

Popularity is a key to important ranking factors like links. So it can be asserted that ranking better for Core Web Vitals could help rankings in an indirect manner in addition to the direct ranking boost given by Google’s algorithm.

The goal for Core Web Vitals is to have a shared metric for all sites in order to improve user experience across the web.

“Q: Is Google recommending that all my pages hit these thresholds? What’s the benefit?

A: We recommend that websites use these three thresholds as a guidepost for optimal user experience across all pages.

Core Web Vitals thresholds are assessed at the per-page level, and you might find that some pages are above and others below these thresholds.

The immediate benefit will be a better experience for users that visit your site, but in the long-term we believe that working towards a shared set of user experience metrics and thresholds across all websites, will be critical in order to sustain a healthy web ecosystem.”

AMP Is a Fairly Reliable Way to Score Well

AMP is an acronym for Accelerated Mobile Pages. It’s an HTML framework for delivering to mobile devices webpages that are slimmed down, load fast, and are attractive.

AMP was originally developed by Google but is open source. AMP can accommodate ecommerce sites as well as informational sites.

There are, for example, apps for the Shopify ecommerce platform as well as plugins for WordPress sites that make it easy to add AMP functionality to a website.

Google will show preference to a website’s AMP version for the purposes of calculating a CWV score. So if a site is having a difficult time optimizing for CWV, using AMP is a fast and easy way to gain a high score.

Nevertheless, Google warned that there are factors like a slow server or poorly optimized images that can still negatively impact the core web vitals score.

“Q: If I built AMP pages, do they meet the recommended thresholds?

A: There is a high likelihood that AMP pages will meet the thresholds. AMP is about delivering high-quality, user-first experiences; its initial design goals are closely aligned with what Core Web Vitals measure today.

This means that sites built using AMP likely can easily meet Web Vitals thresholds.

Furthermore, AMP’s evergreen release enables site owners to get these performance improvements without having to change their codebase or invest in additional resources.

It is important to note that there are things outside of AMP’s control which can result in pages not meeting the thresholds, such as slow server response times and un-optimized images.”

First Input Delay Does Not Consider Scrolling or Bounce/Abandon

First Input Delay (FID) is a metric that measures the time it takes from when a site visitor interacts with a site to when the browser responds to that interaction.

Once a site appears to be downloaded and interactive elements appear to be ready to be interacted with, a user should ideally be able to start clicking around without delay.

A bounce is when a visitor visits a site but then soon after abandons the page, presumably returning back to the search page.

The question is about bounced sessions but the answer incorporates scrolling as well.

Google answers that bounce and abandonment are not a part of the FID metric, presumably because there was no interaction.

“Q: Can sessions that don’t report FID be considered “bounced” sessions?

A: No, FID excludes scrolls, and there are legitimate sessions with no non-scroll input. Bounce Rate and Abandonment Rate may be defined as part of your analytics suite of choice and are not considered in the design of CWV metric.”

Core Web Vitals Impacts Ranking

This section reiterates and confirms that Core Web Vitals became a ranking signal in June 2021.

“…Core Web vitals will be included in page experience signals together with existing search signals including mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS-security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines.”

Importance of Core Web Vitals Ranking Signal For Ranking

Ranking signals are said to have different weights. That’s a reflection that some ranking signals have more importance than other ranking signals.

So when it’s said that a ranking signal is weighted more than another ranking signal, that means that it’s more important.

This is an interesting section of the FAQ because it deals with how much weight the Core Web Vitals ranking signal has compared to other ranking signals.

Google appears to say that the Core Web Vitals ranking signal is weaker than other ranking signals that are directly related to satisfying a user query.

It’s almost as though there is a hierarchy of signals, with intent-related signals given more importance than user experience signals.

Here’s how Google explains it:

Q: How does Google determine which pages are affected by the assessment of Page Experience and usage as a ranking signal?

A: Page experience is just one of many signals that are used to rank pages. Keep in mind that intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a page with a subpar page experience may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.

Q: What can site owners expect to happen to their traffic if they don’t hit Core Web Vitals performance metrics?

A: It’s difficult to make any kind of general prediction. We may have more to share in the future when we formally announce the changes are coming into effect. Keep in mind that the content itself and its match to the kind of information a user is seeking remains a very strong signal as well.”

Field Data in Search Console Core Web Vitals Reporting

This next section explains possible discrepancies between what a publisher experiences in terms of download speed and what users on different devices and Internet connections might experience.

That’s why Google Search Console may report that a site scores low on Core Web Vitals despite the site being perceived as fast by the publisher.

More importantly, the Core Web Vitals metric is concerned with more than just speed.

Furthermore, the Search Console report is based on real-world data whereas Lighthouse data is based on simulated users on simulated devices and simulated internet connections.

Real-world data is called Filed Data, while the testing based on simulations is called Lab Data.

Q: My page is fast. Why do I see warnings on the Search Console Core Web Vitals report?

A: Different devices, network connections, geography, and other factors may contribute to how a page loads and is experienced by a particular user. While some users, in certain conditions, can observe a good experience, this may not be indicative of other user’s experience.

Core Web Vitals look at the full body of user visits and its thresholds are assessed at the 75th percentile across the body of users. The SC CWV report helps report on this data.

…remember that Core Web Vitals is looking at more than speed. For instance, Cumulative Layout Shift describes users annoyances like content moving around…

Q: When I look at Lighthouse, I see no errors. Why do I see errors on the Search Console report?

A: The Search Console Core Web Vitals report shows how your pages are performing based on real world usage data from the CrUX report (sometimes called “field data”). Lighthouse, on the other hand, shows data based on what is called “lab data”. Lab data is useful for debugging performance issues while developing a website, as it is collected in a controlled environment. However, it may not capture real-world bottlenecks. “

Google published a Frequently Asked Questions section about Core Web Vitals that answers many questions.

While the above questions were the ones I thought were particularly interesting, do take a moment to review the rest of the FAQ as there is much more information there.

Citation:

Core Web Vitals & Page Experience FAQs


Featured image credit: Paulo Bobita

Searchenginejournal.com

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GOOGLE

This Week in Search News: Simple and Easy-to-Read Update

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This Week in Search News: Simple and Easy-to-Read Update

Here’s what happened in the world of Google and search engines this week:

1. Google’s June 2024 Spam Update

Google finished rolling out its June 2024 spam update over a period of seven days. This update aims to reduce spammy content in search results.

2. Changes to Google Search Interface

Google has removed the continuous scroll feature for search results. Instead, it’s back to the old system of pages.

3. New Features and Tests

  • Link Cards: Google is testing link cards at the top of AI-generated overviews.
  • Health Overviews: There are more AI-generated health overviews showing up in search results.
  • Local Panels: Google is testing AI overviews in local information panels.

4. Search Rankings and Quality

  • Improving Rankings: Google said it can improve its search ranking system but will only do so on a large scale.
  • Measuring Quality: Google’s Elizabeth Tucker shared how they measure search quality.

5. Advice for Content Creators

  • Brand Names in Reviews: Google advises not to avoid mentioning brand names in review content.
  • Fixing 404 Pages: Google explained when it’s important to fix 404 error pages.

6. New Search Features in Google Chrome

Google Chrome for mobile devices has added several new search features to enhance user experience.

7. New Tests and Features in Google Search

  • Credit Card Widget: Google is testing a new widget for credit card information in search results.
  • Sliding Search Results: When making a new search query, the results might slide to the right.

8. Bing’s New Feature

Bing is now using AI to write “People Also Ask” questions in search results.

9. Local Search Ranking Factors

Menu items and popular times might be factors that influence local search rankings on Google.

10. Google Ads Updates

  • Query Matching and Brand Controls: Google Ads updated its query matching and brand controls, and advertisers are happy with these changes.
  • Lead Credits: Google will automate lead credits for Local Service Ads. Google says this is a good change, but some advertisers are worried.
  • tROAS Insights Box: Google Ads is testing a new insights box for tROAS (Target Return on Ad Spend) in Performance Max and Standard Shopping campaigns.
  • WordPress Tag Code: There is a new conversion code for Google Ads on WordPress sites.

These updates highlight how Google and other search engines are continuously evolving to improve user experience and provide better advertising tools.

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AI

Exploring the Evolution of Language Translation: A Comparative Analysis of AI Chatbots and Google Translate

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A Comparative Analysis of AI Chatbots and Google Translate

According to an article on PCMag, while Google Translate makes translating sentences into over 100 languages easy, regular users acknowledge that there’s still room for improvement.

In theory, large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT are expected to bring about a new era in language translation. These models consume vast amounts of text-based training data and real-time feedback from users worldwide, enabling them to quickly learn to generate coherent, human-like sentences in a wide range of languages.

However, despite the anticipation that ChatGPT would revolutionize translation, previous experiences have shown that such expectations are often inaccurate, posing challenges for translation accuracy. To put these claims to the test, PCMag conducted a blind test, asking fluent speakers of eight non-English languages to evaluate the translation results from various AI services.

The test compared ChatGPT (both the free and paid versions) to Google Translate, as well as to other competing chatbots such as Microsoft Copilot and Google Gemini. The evaluation involved comparing the translation quality for two test paragraphs across different languages, including Polish, French, Korean, Spanish, Arabic, Tagalog, and Amharic.

In the first test conducted in June 2023, participants consistently favored AI chatbots over Google Translate. ChatGPT, Google Bard (now Gemini), and Microsoft Bing outperformed Google Translate, with ChatGPT receiving the highest praise. ChatGPT demonstrated superior performance in converting colloquialisms, while Google Translate often provided literal translations that lacked cultural nuance.

For instance, ChatGPT accurately translated colloquial expressions like “blow off steam,” whereas Google Translate produced more literal translations that failed to resonate across cultures. Participants appreciated ChatGPT’s ability to maintain consistent levels of formality and its consideration of gender options in translations.

The success of AI chatbots like ChatGPT can be attributed to reinforcement learning with human feedback (RLHF), which allows these models to learn from human preferences and produce culturally appropriate translations, particularly for non-native speakers. However, it’s essential to note that while AI chatbots outperformed Google Translate, they still had limitations and occasional inaccuracies.

In a subsequent test, PCMag evaluated different versions of ChatGPT, including the free and paid versions, as well as language-specific AI agents from OpenAI’s GPTStore. The paid version of ChatGPT, known as ChatGPT Plus, consistently delivered the best translations across various languages. However, Google Translate also showed improvement, performing surprisingly well compared to previous tests.

Overall, while ChatGPT Plus emerged as the preferred choice for translation, Google Translate demonstrated notable improvement, challenging the notion that AI chatbots are always superior to traditional translation tools.


Source: https://www.pcmag.com/articles/google-translate-vs-chatgpt-which-is-the-best-language-translator

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GOOGLE

Google Implements Stricter Guidelines for Mass Email Senders to Gmail Users

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Beginning in April, Gmail senders bombarding users with unwanted mass emails will encounter a surge in message rejections unless they comply with the freshly minted Gmail email sender protocols, Google cautions.

Fresh Guidelines for Dispatching Mass Emails to Gmail Inboxes In an elucidative piece featured on Forbes, it was highlighted that novel regulations are being ushered in to shield Gmail users from the deluge of unsolicited mass emails. Initially, there were reports surfacing about certain marketers receiving error notifications pertaining to messages dispatched to Gmail accounts. Nonetheless, a Google representative clarified that these specific errors, denoted as 550-5.7.56, weren’t novel but rather stemmed from existing authentication prerequisites.

Moreover, Google has verified that commencing from April, they will initiate “the rejection of a portion of non-compliant email traffic, progressively escalating the rejection rate over time.” Google elaborates that, for instance, if 75% of the traffic adheres to the new email sender authentication criteria, then a portion of the remaining non-conforming 25% will face rejection. The exact proportion remains undisclosed. Google does assert that the implementation of the new regulations will be executed in a “step-by-step fashion.”

This cautious and methodical strategy seems to have already kicked off, with transient errors affecting a “fraction of their non-compliant email traffic” coming into play this month. Additionally, Google stipulates that bulk senders will be granted until June 1 to integrate “one-click unsubscribe” in all commercial or promotional correspondence.

Exclusively Personal Gmail Accounts Subject to Rejection These alterations exclusively affect bulk emails dispatched to personal Gmail accounts. Entities sending out mass emails, specifically those transmitting a minimum of 5,000 messages daily to Gmail accounts, will be mandated to authenticate outgoing emails and “refrain from dispatching unsolicited emails.” The 5,000 message threshold is tabulated based on emails transmitted from the same principal domain, irrespective of the employment of subdomains. Once the threshold is met, the domain is categorized as a permanent bulk sender.

These guidelines do not extend to communications directed at Google Workspace accounts, although all senders, including those utilizing Google Workspace, are required to adhere to the updated criteria.

Augmented Security and Enhanced Oversight for Gmail Users A Google spokesperson emphasized that these requisites are being rolled out to “fortify sender-side security and augment user control over inbox contents even further.” For the recipient, this translates to heightened trust in the authenticity of the email sender, thus mitigating the risk of falling prey to phishing attempts, a tactic frequently exploited by malevolent entities capitalizing on authentication vulnerabilities. “If anything,” the spokesperson concludes, “meeting these stipulations should facilitate senders in reaching their intended recipients more efficiently, with reduced risks of spoofing and hijacking by malicious actors.”

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