Find out how Google’s update to its search algorithm may affect your dealership website.

When a potential client searches for local dealerships on Google, you want your website to be displayed prominently in the search results—the higher, the better. So at EDealer we employ our very own SEO team to help optimize your website. Our tried-and-tested strategy ensures your website has the right “stuff” valued by Google: quality, relevant content. 
The tech company’s latest algorithm change—called the Google Core Vitals Update—doesn’t stray from this model, though it is more attuned to the user experience. The update began in mid-June and will be fully in place by the end of August. In this article, we’ll explore what Google Core Web Vitals (CWV) means and how it may affect your EDealer website.

What is Google Core Web Vitals?

The algorithm update should boost the user experience and measures websites on three “core web vitals” for both desktop and mobile. They’re centred around the website’s loading, interactivity, and visual stability capabilities. These include:

  1. Loading - Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) refers to how quickly the largest image or text block can become fully visible on-screen when the page loads. A good LCP score is 2.5 seconds or fewer, at least 75% of the time.

  2. Interactivity - First Input Delay (FID) measures the time it takes for interactive elements on the web page to be usable. A good FID score is 100 milliseconds or fewer, at least 75% of the time.

  3. Visual Stability - Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures how much a web page shifts as it loads. If you have ever visited a website and seen it “jump around” as it loaded or when you tried to use it, you’ve witnessed a layout shift. Every time a layout shift occurs while a user is otherwise interacting with a page, it creates a poor user experience. This leads to a lower CLS score. A good CLS score is 0.1 or less at least 75% of the time. 

An infographic that breaks down the three factors in Google's Core Web Vitals: loading, interactivity, and visual stability. These factors are explained in the blog entry text.There are four additional factors Google uses to determine the page experience:

  1. Mobile friendly: Is the website mobile friendly? Can you easily access information using a mobile device?
  2. Safe browsing: Does the page contain malicious (e.g. malware) or deceptive content (social engineering, e.g. phishing, insufficiently labelled third-party tools, etc.)?
  3. HTTPS: Is the page served using the secure web protocol, HTTPS? 
  4. Intrusive interstitials: Is all page content easily accessible all the time? If an element is built to “pop up” or “pop over” content in a way that blocks elements on the page that a user might attempt to interact with—especially if the user doesn’t start it—it could be an intrusive interstitial.

An infographic that illustrates the four additional factors in Core Web Vitals: mobile friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS, and intrusive interstitials.Wait, I have pop-ups. What now?

There are some factors to consider and determine whether your interstitial will be intrusive. For one, if it covers most or all of the interactive elements of a page, it’s intrusive and is scored on similar guidelines used for determining “largest content” in scoring LCP. The second consideration is if the interstitial is responsive. This means it will remain the same size and shape regardless of the size of the view. If this is the case, it will render mobile-sized content inaccessible, making your website “unfriendly” for mobile users. Another consideration is if user action triggers the interstitial or if it launches on its own—the latter is discouraged. One last concern is if the interstitial is not easily closed or dismissed unless an interaction occurs within a finite clickable area, like a tiny, barely visible “X” in the corner. For this last point, your EDealer Performance Manager (PM) or Customer Support Representative (CSR) will ensure that the clickable area meets international web-accessibility standards. 

There are also a few cases where Google won’t penalize the use of an intrusive interstitial:

  • Requiring a response to a legal obligation (e.g. accepting use of cookies, age verification, etc.)
  • Login dialogue to protect content that is only accessible behind a paywall
  • Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible (e.g. can click anywhere to close instead of a tiny target point to close)

How will CWV otherwise affect my website? 

If your LCP, FID and CLS scores are higher than the benchmark provided by Google, you can expect to see some minor fluctuation in ranking positions. However, if this is your only issue on your site, there’s some good news. If you have the best possible answer to the query, Google will continue to prioritize your website as the best possible answer in the search engine results page (SERP). This is true even if you have a higher site speed score than a faster page with a less-complete answer. The new ranking factors do not negate Google’s original ranking factors: quality of unique content, authoritative domain, external validation of trustworthiness. These factors are not only still important, they also play the biggest role in determining when and where you end up in a user’s search query. Where these factors will come into play is if you don’t have your own unique answer to these queries (where did the content come from? Was it published on your website first, or somewhere else?), or if someone else with better CWV scores, or who doesn’t have intrusive interstitials on their website has an equally complete answer. This will cause a loss of potential ranking position in search.

Is there anything I should do with my website to ensure it isn’t negatively affected by CWV?

Yes, there are a few steps you can take:

  • Ensure your website has quality, unique content.
  • Talk to your CSR or PM about changes to be made to your website.
  • Review your website chat provider and ensure that chat boxes do not float over and are not changed to be user-initiated.

Have more questions about Google Core Web Vitals and how it impacts your website? Contact our team today.