With the new Google Core Web Vitals update coming in mid-June (wow, that’s just around the corner!) webmasters have raised concerns about several topics.
One of them is ‘Top Stories’. Google explains this section in more detail here.
‘Top stories’ is a section that appears within Google Search when we detect a search query is news-oriented. We match the search with relevant, quality news content to display. ‘Top stories’ features articles related to the search, and a link to more related articles on the News tab. Content is automatically selected for this feature.
One concern webmasters have is with how Core Web Vitals will affect the properties of Google search, in particular the selection of sites for the Top Stories carousel.
Several professionals on Twitter have asked whether or not Top Stories are dependent on Core Web Vitals — in other words, do Core Web Vitals need to be met to be selected for Top stories?
Google Updated Their Core Web Vitals FAQ
Google has updated their Core Web Vitals FAQ with information explaining that Top Stories eligibility will not be affected by Core Web Vitals.
Q: Am I eligible for Top Stories carousel if my webpage is not clearing Core Web Vitals?
A: Yes. With the upcoming change to Top Stories carousel, all web pages irrespective of their page experience status or Core Web Vitals score are eligible for Top Stories carousel. When the changes go live the compliance with Google News content policies will be the only requirement, and we will use page experience as a ranking signal across all the pages.
Q: If publishers decide not to use AMP, how will they know their content is eligible for Top Stories carousel?
A: With the upcoming change to Top Stories, any news publisher’s content whether via AMP or another technology is eligible provided it complies with Google News content policies. Whether content shows up in practice will depend on a number of factors that ranking considers, and page experience criteria will be one of them. To be clear, any content irrespective of its page experience metrics is eligible for Top Stories feature on Google Search.
Google reiterated on that same page:
Q: If my AMP pages don’t have a good page experience, are they still eligible for the Top Stories Carousel?
A: Yes, any content that meets the Google News content policies is eligible to be displayed in the Top Stories carousel. Page experience refers to a collection of signals that are all important to deliver a good page experience, and the signals are becoming a factor in ranking, including in the Top Stories Carousel. This means that page experience factors, in addition to many other factors including the content itself and the match to the query, will determine its placement in the Top Stories carousel. Publishers should be focused on making improvements to page experience a relative priority over time as page experience ranking becomes the norm that users expect and other publishers would want to match.
Why Do We Care?
Google’s Core Web Vitals update is going to include major changes. For months, Google has been hinting that the update is coming and suggesting what you might want to do about it.
There are concerns about how it will impact overall rankings, especially for related Google digital search features.
These concerns also extend to certain carousels displayed on the Google SERPs, such as Top Stories carousels.
There is speculation that some metrics, such as Core Web Vitals, may be involved in prioritization for these types of featured carousels.
For now, make sure that you have your Core Web Vitals metrics in check, and that you are optimizing each page properly.
What Are Core Web Vitals?
Core Web Vitals are a set of metrics that give you an idea of how your website is performing in terms of responsiveness and visual stability.
They are important because they will be prioritized in the upcoming Google page experience update, which will be released mid-June 2021.
Please see our other coverage of this upcoming Google update.
How Do I Pass Core Web Vitals?
Achieving success in Core Web Vitals boils down to one ultimate goal: conveying your content to your site’s visitors as quickly as possible.
Typically, passing a Core Web Vitals report involves following this process:
Perform an analysis of your site using Google Page Speed Insights, or Google’s Lighthouse Chrome extension.
Examine the errors that PSI and Lighthouse recommend repairing. These errors could mean a difference of several seconds in page speed.
Fix the errors. Prioritize them based on your workflow and what works best with your team. Enlist the help of developers if you are unable to repair the errors on your own.
Core Web Vitals: Our Take
With Google’s page experience update set to arrive in mid-June 2021, many SEO professionals are scrambling to get their page experience metrics in order.
We’ve also written another post on the topic.
We believe that page speed will become an important factor to get right in the days and weeks ahead.