Freestar’s Approach to Core Web Vitals

By: Andy Forwark, Product Manager

Freestar is building an update to our core code that will provide several optimizations around the Core Web Vitals (CWV) update that Google will be enforcing in May of this year as part of their prioritization to provide a quality page experience.

Given that Core Web Vitals consists of three new core vital signs – which measure perceived page experience – it’s expected that beginning in May 2021, we will start to see the impact across the search landscape play out over time, rather than an abrupt change. For further reading, you can read some of our tactical suggestions on the impact of Core Web Vitals on Monetization by our very own Brian Weiss on AdExchanger.

Let’s quickly touch on a previous large change from Google for context. On April 21st, 2015, Google gave advanced notice and provided tools for a search algorithm update which prioritized a Mobile-First user experience, which has since been dubbed the “mobilegeddon”. 

Later that year, on October 26th, the RankBrain algorithm update applied machine learning to prioritize search results based on the quality of a page’s user-interface, content, and relevance to the original query.

The reason we’re highlighting these two previous core updates is to illustrate that the last time Google was so open about changes to their algorithms, it was part of a multi-faceted series of updates which were staggered out over a year.

Freestar’s approach to the upcoming changes is an opt-in approach which will allow publishers more control over the code we deliver to your site. If you decide to opt-in, we will then deliver a Page Speed optimized version of our ad stack. With this new option, we will remove any products, networks, or other components that we deem to have a negative effect on the three main criteria around this CWV update. By selecting this option, this will help ensure that the advertising components we deliver will have a neutral to low impact on your CWV score, but naturally there is a chance it will also lead to negative revenue implications. For existing Freestar clients, please work with your dedicated Account Manager for a walkthrough of the simple changes you’ll need to make on your end to test this new feature on your site.

In the words of Google, focus on content:

“Pages that drop [in ranking] after a core update don’t have anything wrong to fix. This said, we understand those who do less well after a core update change may still feel they need to do something. We suggest focusing on ensuring you’re offering the best content you can. That’s what our algorithms seek to reward.”

While you focus on content, let us focus on the heavy lifting. Freestar is aiming to have this new feature available in early May, to correspond with when we believe Google will begin their rollout process of CWV scores. We anticipate the way these core vitals will be measured/scored will go through changes or iterations, and our solution is built to be flexible and help keep our publishers ahead of the curve.

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