In the spring of 2020, the world’s most popular search engine announced an algorithm update called Google Page Experience aimed at rewarding web pages that provide a solid page experience to users by ranking them higher in search results. Essentially, this 2021 update will judge a page based on how users experience and perceive the page after having landed on it.
What is page experience, exactly? As the name suggests, it’s the experience users have on a page after having clicked on it in search results. Some of the factors that contribute to page experience include but are not limited to: the presence of pop-ups, page speed, mobile accessibility, a secure connection (HTTPS), etc.
As such, Google Page Experience is going to become yet another major ranking factor for web pages. What does this mean for SEOs and webmasters alike? As the update is set to launch in May of 2021, understanding page experience and improving page experience signals and core web vitals should be of the utmost importance in the coming months to properly prepare for Google Page Experience.
What is Google Page Experience?
As Google’s mission is to provide the best search experience and most relevant search results, they are constantly running experiments and tweaking their algorithm to do just that. In fact, it has been estimated that between announced and unannounced updates, Google changes their algorithm between 500-600 times each year.
For the sake of transparency and preparation, Google Page Experience was announced in the middle of 2020. The Google algorithm update, set to launch in May 2021, is geared toward increasing the weight of page experience as a ranking factor. This would effectively reward web pages that provide users with a fantastic page experience.
Several page experience signals already carry weight with respect to ranking. These signals include:
HTTPS – Ensure that your website has a proper SSL certificate. HTTPS serves to protect the communication between your website and a user’s browser, thus safeguarding user data during a routine website visit.
Absence of Intrusive Interstitials – Though this is a fancy way of saying to avoid intrusive and annoying pop-ups on your website. Needless pop-ups largely block visitors from the content they expect to see and engage with on the site, which hurts their overall experience and, as a result, affects rankings.
Mobile Friendliness – As of late 2020, mobile devices generated roughly half of all global website traffic. That being said, Google recognizes the importance of ranking pages that deliver the optimal experience across platforms – mobile phones, tablets, and desktops. With increased emphasis on browsing anywhere, any time on mobile devices, building mobile-friendly web pages is essential to ranking in search results.
Safe Browsing – Actively monitor the security of your website in an effort to keep it free from viruses and other security threats. While this signal should go without saying, it is one of the most important to consider. Users catching a virus from visiting your website significantly damages overall page experience and Google will be sure to take that into consideration when awarding rankings in search results.
Though the above signals already hold weight in ranking web pages, Google Page Experience seeks to combine these existing page experience signals with new signals into one entity. The additional signals that will be introduced with this Google algorithm update are as follows:
Loading Performance – With this signal, Google is essentially measuring how quickly a web page loads for users. To measure overall loading performance, Google uses the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – the amount of time it takes to fully load the main page’s content. For a good user experience, the LCP should occur in 2.5 seconds or less.
Interactivity – Interactivity is measured by First Input Delay (FID), basically how long it takes for the user to have the ability to interact with the page. Webmasters should strive to get their FID to less than 100 milliseconds.
Visual Stability – Google uses Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) to measure visual stability. CLS assesses how often users encounter unusual shifts in the website layout. To please Google, a website’s CLS should be under 0.1.
With the addition of 3 new signals, Google Page Experience will forever change the SEO landscape by altering how webmasters prioritize page experience and how it fits into their overall optimization strategies moving forward.
Understanding Bad Page Experience
To grasp the concept of a good page experience, one must understand bad page experience. From a user perspective, think about the aspects of your website that could potentially cause users to bounce or go looking for information on another site.
Generally speaking, bad page experience boils down to three things: design, content, and page speed.
Design – In the digital age, a sleek, user-friendly website design is expected. Good design serves to seamlessly guide users through a site. Page experience suffers in the absence of good design, making navigation more difficult, more confusing, and ultimately more complicated. As there are millions of other sites vying for a user’s attention at once, if a user is unable to make sense of your website after just a few seconds, it’s highly likely that they will move on to the next one.
Content – Content is another pillar of page experience, as the type of content one provides could be the difference between a good or bad experience for users. In oversaturated online markets, searchers are looking for engaging content. Though it’s a general term, engaging content is relatable, informative, and authoritative. Avoid making the mistake of only trying to sell your products/services to those who visit your site, as it may put people off. Think about your online visitors’ best interests and why they might be visiting your site and make content that anticipates and caters to their needs.
Page Speed – How often have you used Google to search for something, clicked on a random search result, and became annoyed when that particular website didn’t load quickly enough? That’s because page speed is a huge factor in determining a user’s overall page experience. Searchers these days are increasingly impatient, wanting information and wanting it now. If your site takes what users would consider too long to load, even by a second, you run the risk of losing traffic and becoming less favorable not only for users but also for search engines.
Understanding how design, content, and page speed impact a user’s perspective of your website will only help you provide the best possible experience for all visitors, which is ideal in Google’s eyes.
Why Webmasters Should Pay Attention To This Update
Like it or not, Google Page Experience will be launched in May of 2021 and will change the organic search landscape in perpetuity.
Google’s main goal has always been to provide the best possible search experience to users. This search experience not only encompasses the most accurate results but also the websites that users visit to find the information for which they are looking.
As such, the implementation of Google Page Experience aims to improve the overall search experience for users by rewarding pages that meet the new page speed benchmarks.
Google has been very clear about the increased weight that page experience will carry after this update goes live. It stands to reason that those who do not address page speed issues to meet the new standards will fall behind. Falling behind not only means significant drops in rankings but also drops in website traffic, sales, and/or leads.
To avoid detrimental damage, webmasters and SEOs should make optimizing for and maintaining page experience metrics a top priority before the introduction of Google Page Experience in just a few months.
Improving Page Experience with Creative Click Media
Design, content, and page speed have become critical page experience indicators. With Google Page Experience, the standards for these benchmarks will be raised. Though page speed has been a primary focus for search engines, especially in recent years, implementing strict standards on-page experience criteria means that Google will be prioritizing page speed and page experience above all else.
Such an update to Google’s algorithm is slated to cause shockwaves throughout the SEO world. After Google Page Experience is implemented, Google will begin to favor websites that fit within their new page speed guidelines by ranking them higher while websites – likely those belonging to small and medium-sized businesses – that don’t quite hit the mark will be penalized and rank lower.
If you are the owner of a small to medium-sized business, becoming increasingly concerned about the future of your organic search rankings after the launch of Google Page Experience, Creative Click Media can help put your mind at ease. We specialize in all aspects of SEO, including local SEO and technical SEO. Our team of tech experts can help identify aspects of your site affecting its overall page speed as well as future SEO opportunities for your business. Contact us today and we will help improve your website’s page experience a priority before Google starts dishing out costly penalties.