Core Web Vitals are among 200+ factors Google will consider when evaluating a website's ranking. But most important, they are new and highly publicized as potentially impacting how a website ranks in search. Since Thrive Themes plays a major role in the success and function of our sites, the question of what Thrive Themes is doing to prepare for Core Web Vitals is top of mind.
Thrive Themes is preparing for Core Web Vitals by implementing an update called "Project Lightspeed" which will address major site speed factors such as CSS, JS, and lazy loading. Ultimately, the goal of Project Lightspeed is to improve the code used in all of the Thrive Suite tools so that they are faster and more efficient.
Let's take a practical, non-hysterical, look at what you can do now to prepare for the arrival of the Core Web Vitals and more importantly what really matters when it comes to website speed and optimization, particularly if you use Thrive Suite.
Why Core Web Vitals are Relevant to Thrive Themes
Thrive Themes's suite of tools (apply named Thrive Suite) consists of a page builder and a suite of tools that add extensive functionality to WordPress. With those enhancements comes more code, and with more code comes the need to process and compute it.
Fact: Any theme builder or functionality you add to your website will slow it down in some way.
Given that fact, does this mean you should give up and stop using a tool that makes your website a more effective marketing tool, easier to use, more attractive, and just better? No. Of course not. That will be silly, and Google doesn't want that either.
Don't Compete on Speed
You wouldn't build a website with a product, service, or value offering that was so identical to everyone else's offering the ultimate decision between you and the next website was the milliseconds difference in load times, right?
Create content that Google has no choice but to rank as the best result. Answer queries better than anyone else. Build a better product than anyone else. Provide a service or an experience people can't find anywhere else.
If you write the same content, sell the same product, and provide nothing of unique value over the next search result then perhaps those milliseconds DO matter... but that's a darn shame.
The quote below is directly from Google and validates this point.
Q: What is the page experience update and how important is it compared to other ranking signals?
A: The page experience update introduces a new signal that our search algorithms will use alongside hundreds of other signals to determine the best content to show in response to a query. Our systems will continue to prioritize pages with the best information overall, even if some aspects of page experience are subpar. A good page experience doesn't override having great, relevant content.
Use Appropriately Fast Website Hosting
The single most important speed enhancement you can make to your website is HOSTING.
You need to be on a host that loads your website files as fast as they can load so that using more tools on your site isn't further hindered by site waiting on your host.
I recommend Cloudways (get a 3 day free trial at that link and try it yourself) as the fastest host with bigger sites with membership, ecommerce, large courses, or tons of traffic. Get a Vultr HF server. It's a tiny bit more technical, but that hour you spend is worth it.
Need a little more tech support and only have a simpler brochure-style site? I recommend WPX.net (use that link, they'll migrate your sites for your) and you'll love how effortlessly you can host and manage your websites. They have a really fast CDN and it's all push-button simple.
Take Advantage of Easy Optimizations
Your image file sizes need to be as tiny as possible. Those 5mb images you upload from your phone or straight from a stock photo site are killing your load times. Shrink them. Use a tool like Shortpixel's free online image compressor.
Put It to the Common Sense Test
Ultimately, common sense must prevail. Google isn't going to roll out an update that's so techy, so hard to implement, so hard to improve, that 99.999% of the website owners out there get screwed. Their HTTPS / SSL update didn't stop non-secure sites from ranking first.
A fast loading site (< 1 second) that looks great on desktop and mobile can still score poorly on a Core Web Vitals test.
Does it make sense for this site to be penalized in any way?
No, of course not.
Core Web Vitals aren't the metric. User-experience, or how users behave when they visit your site, is what matters. If your site is slow, people will leave and not want to use it. If your site is janky and transitions and moves around and people can't click on things, then people won't want to use it. If your site fails to offer value worth visiting, Google won't show it anyway.
Project Lightspeed will hopefully optimize the code further, leading to an even better and more efficient resource-using version of Thrive Suite. That's all I want, regardless of how it scores on a test.
Make a better website, serve your visitors better, and you can absolutely use Thrive Suite to do it. Core Web Vitals or not.