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Google’s ‘Core Web Vitals’ Metrics to Factor into Search Rankings from May 2021

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After first outlining its new ‘Core Web Vitals’ metrics back in May, Google has now confirmed that these elements will influence search rankings as of May 2021, adding new considerations for your SEO approach.

As explained by Google:

Today we’re announcing that the page experience signals in ranking will roll out in May 2021. The new page experience signals combine Core Web Vitals with our existing search signals including mobile-friendlinesssafe-browsingHTTPS-security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines.”

Core Web Vitals

In other words, you’ll need to take these new elements into account in order to maximize your search rankings and keep your page in the top results.

So what are Google’s ‘Core Web Vitals’? The three elements you need to consider are:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – This element measures loading performance and how fast the key visual elements of your pages become available for the user after clicking through. Google says that in order to provide a good user experience, sites should strive to have LCP occur within the first 2.5 seconds of the page starting to load. You can test your web page LCP with the tools listed in this post.
  • First Input Delay (FID) – Similar to LCP, FID measures how long it takes for your page to become interactive, so users can click and search. Google says that websites should strive to have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds. You can measure FID with the tools outlined in this post.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – This element measures visual stability. For example, have you ever gone to tap on something on a page and then it’s suddenly moved or shifted as you’ve done so, and you’ve accidentally clicked on something else, taking you to the wrong destination? That’s what this looks to measure, with poor stability leading to lower ranking.

There are various ways that you can test each of these elements (more notes and tools here), and for most web pages, they’re likely already on track for most elements, especially if your site is built on WordPress or similar, which have pre-established limits on what you can include.

But if you’ve built your own site, and it’s heavy on graphics, videos, etc, you may need to re-assess.

Google’s also planning to test new ways to show how pages align with these new signals via visual indicators in search results.

To get ready for these changes, we have released a variety of tools that publishers can use to start improving their page experience. The first step is doing a site-wide audit of your pages to see where there is room for improvement. Search Console’s report for Core Web Vitals gives you an overview of how your site is doing and a deepdive into issues. Once you’ve identified opportunities, Page Speed Insights and Lighthouse can help you as you iterate on fixing any issues that you’ve uncovered.”

You still have a few months, but it may be worth giving your web developer a nudge to check out these elements, and ensure you’re on the right track.

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Meta Will Shut Down its Newsletter Platform Early Next Year

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Meta's Reallocating Resources Away from Bulletin and its News Tab, Which Could See Publishers Lose Out

In news that will surprise no-one, Meta has today confirmed that it’s shutting down its ‘Bulletin’ newsletter platform, just 18 months after its initial launch.

Another sign of Meta’s fleeting interest in the latest trends, the company launched Bulletin in April 2021, as part of an effort to take a piece of the growing newsletter market, with platforms like Substack seeing massive growth in facilitating direct connection between writers and their audiences. Twitter also acquired newsletter platform Revue, and it had seemed, at the time, that newsletters could offer a new, supplementary income stream for creators, aligned with social apps.

In addition to this, Meta also saw an opportunity to provide a platform for local publications that had been shut down due to the pandemic. With ad dollars from local businesses drying up, due to lockdown measures, many smaller publications had to shut down, and Meta viewed this as a chance to make Facebook an even more critical element of community engagement, by providing a direct pathway for independent journalists to serve their audiences through the app.

As part of its initial push, Meta allocated $5 million in funding for local publications to convert to Bulletin instead.

And it sort of worked. Bulletin, at last at one stage, supported over 115 publications, with more than half of the creators on the platform reaching over 1,000 subscribers.

But this year, amid tougher market conditions, Meta lost interest.

The company has been gradually scaling back its investment in news and original content in recent months. Back in July, The Wall Street Journal reported that Meta had reallocated resources from both its Facebook News tab and Bulletin, in order to ‘heighten their focus on building a more robust Creator economy’

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In other words, Reels – Meta’s main investment focus for the future of the Creator Economy is short-form video content, which drives more views, more engagement, and is the big trend that Meta’s chasing right now.

As a result, Meta says that it will shut down Bulletin by early next year.

As per Meta:

“Bulletin has allowed us to learn about the relationship between Creators and their audiences and how to better support them in building their community on Facebook. While this off-platform product itself is ending, we remain committed to supporting these and other Creators’ success and growth on our platform.”

So long as they create Reels, I guess.

Again, the decision here is no surprise, but it does serve as another reminder that Meta chases whatever trends it can, and it has no real, long-term commitment on any of its new pushes.

Video is the thing, as it has been several times before, and Meta will keep pushing that till audiences lose interest. Then it’ll be something else that Meta’s pitching to brands, publishers, users, etc.

Logically, Meta follows the latest trends in order to maximize the benefit of such within its tools. But it is worth noting that, when it does lose interest, it tends to move on entirely, leaving anyone who’s invested in its last whim out in the cold.

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Overall, Bulletin isn’t huge, and it won’t impact a heap of writers and publishers, as such. But even so, for those that have invested in the platform, in good faith, it’s a bitter pill, and while they will now be able to move on to other platforms as well, it’s good to remind yourself that Meta chases trends, and moves on quick.

‘Don’t build on rented land’. ‘Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket’. Don’t trust social platforms to keep supporting that feature or platform that you’ve come to rely on.

The closure of Bulletin may seem like a side note to many, but it’s an important reminder that you need to diversify your strategy to avoid such impacts.

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