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SEO Web Design / SEO  / Are Core Web Vitals worth the trouble? And confusion around passage ranking; Tuesday’s daily brief

Are Core Web Vitals worth the trouble? And confusion around passage ranking; Tuesday’s daily brief

Search Engine Land’s daily brief features daily insights, news, tips, and essential bits of wisdom for today’s search marketer. If you would like to read this before the rest of the internet does, sign up here[1] to get it delivered to your inbox daily.

Good morning, Marketers, and let’s talk Core Web Vitals,

Since Google announced Core Web Vitals back in May 2020, many search marketers have focused on improving their page speeds and overall site function. It makes sense. To me, Core Web Vitals is another metric we can measure for overall user experience. We now have numbers to present to clients and stakeholders about why load times, interactivity, and visual stability matter.

Others in search believe Core Web Vitals won’t have that much of an impact on rankings, though. And that, much like https and mobile-first indexing, because Google announced it in advance, everyone will be implementing it before the launch. Some also believe that the metrics will only come into play with sites that have equal content footing. That is to say, if your content outdoes your competitors’, then their better Core Web Vitals scores won’t mean much in SERPs. 

What do you think? Are Core Web Vitals a game-changer? Or just table stakes? Email me at[2] and let me know. Plus, check out the how-to guide below on auditing Core Web Vitals on yours sites.

Carolyn Lyden
Director of Search Content

How to audit Core Web Vitals

Google's core web vitals metrics

Google told site owners in May that Core Web Vitals would become part of its algorithms in 2021, and most SEOs have been working to improve their metrics before the launch. This how-to guide by Tom Crewe walks you through a CWV audit using Screaming Frog and the PageSpeed Insights API.

This method gives you an understanding of the size of the issues to better communicate the scope to clients: “95% of pages have a Largest Contentful Paint of over 4 seconds (fail).” Crewe also demonstrates how to give the numbers behind the fixes to help clients understand how prioritizing CWV may improve their site overall: 

“For each of the recommendations you are making, you will also be able to see the ‘Savings’ that could be made by fixing that particular issue, either in bytes or milliseconds. Using your exported data for each issue, you can now add up the potential savings for each issue, and the average savings that could be made per page by resolving that issue, so you can make your recommendations for which issues to tackle first based on the amount of potential load savings that can be made.”

Read the guide here.[3]

Microsoft launches AI to interpret and correct searcher spelling errors

Did you know around 15% of queries searched online have spelling errors? That’s according to an announcement last week from Microsoft Bing. Introducing their Speller100, the Bing engineering team hopes to cut down on the number of incorrect search results that come from search AI misunderstanding misspelled queries.

“When queries are misspelled, we match the wrong set of documents and trigger incorrect answers, which can produce a suboptimal results page for our customers. Therefore, spelling correction is the very first component in the Bing search stack because searching for the correct spelling of what users mean improves all downstream search components,” reads the announcement.

The new addition to the AI corrects the spelling errors of queries in over 100 languages (up from just a few dozen before) helping the search engine better understand what users are looking for and thus serving up more relevant results. Bing’s A/B testing revealed a 30% drop in searches with on results, a 5% reduction in searchers reformulating their queries, and an increase in the number of times users clicked on a search result.

Why we care. Not only does Speller100 represent a move toward a better user experience for searchers, but it also means more relevant search results. For businesses, this is an opportunity to potentially drive a small increase in traffic when people are searching for products or services that you offer. It also means no need to focus on potential misspelled keywords. 

Read the announcement here.[4]

Passage ranking is not something you can see in Google Search

Passage ranking and scroll-to-text. Now that passage ranking is live in the US/English search results[5], there is a lot of confusion on how you can see these results. The answer is you cannot see them, it is a ranking change, not a visual change to the search results.  And no, the scroll-to-text feature you are seeing is not the passage rankings results[6], it is likely featured snippets, which are not passage ranking snippets.

Valentine’s Day Google Doodle. If you missed the Google Valentine’s day Doodle, we have a screenshot of it above and you can learn more about it on this Google blog post[7].

Small businesses and SEO. Google’s John Mueller said when it comes to what he is seeing on small business websites and SEO these days, he said “I see, the fewer I see with technical SEO issues, and the more the issues lie with the content[8] (stale, duplicated across multiple sites, incorrect, low-quality, etc). CMSs tend to get most technical things right (or “right enough”) nowadays.”

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About The Author

Carolyn Lyden serves as the Director of Search Content for Search Engine Land and SMX. With expertise in SEO, content marketing, local search, and analytics, she focuses on making marketers’ jobs easier with important news and educational content.

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