Earlier this year, Google announced that page experience signals would be included in its search ranking. We can now expect this to roll out in May 2021.
But what does it mean for you?
Well, we’ve spoken to our expert digital marketers to get their insights to find out what you need to do to be ready. We’ll guide you through what is meant by page experience and how you can get your website prepared for the new changes.
Read on to find out more about Google’s page experience update and what it means for you…
What is Page Experience?
Do you know what? Google has its own definition of this, and here it is:
“The page experience signal measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page. Optimizing for these factors makes the web more delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces, and helps sites evolve towards user expectations on mobile. We believe this will contribute to business success on the web as users grow more engaged and can transact with less friction.”
Basically, they want your website to be nice and easy to use. The easier your website is for people to use, the higher you will rank.
User experience is a key aspect of on-page SEO and can have a detrimental effect on your site’s traffic and conversion rate if done poorly. SEO is all about delivering users to useful pages based on their search query, so ensuring your page is high-quality is essential. This isn’t just the technical setup, but the content too.
Improving user experience with tailored, high-quality content that addresses their intent is often overlooked when discussing UX. Failing to deliver what a user expects will result in high bounce rates and, if Google also determines that your page isn’t fit for purpose, its rankings will drop too. Here’s a visual representation:
So, what’s included in page experience? Well, it includes:
- Core Web Vitals
- No Intrusive Interstitials – do any ads obscure content or make it difficult for a user to read and continue their journey?
- Browsing safety
These are monitored by Google as signals for ranking, which offer concrete ways for website owners to measure the user experience of their site.
What are “Core Web Vitals”?
It’s not like someone’s gone all Scrubs or Holby City on a webpage, core web vitals are specific factors that Google considers important in overall user experience. They are made up of three specific measurements:
- Largest Contentful Paint – all about loading. The LCP measures how quickly the content on your site loads. Ideally, it should be 2.5 seconds or less.
- First Input Delay – interactivity. It’s the amount of time it takes for a page to be ready for user interactivity, such as responding to user input or clicks.
- Cumulative Layout Shift – visual stability. It measures whether objects or text on the page are likely to shift suddenly if a user interacts with them. A good score is 0.1 or lower.
Why is this Update Important?
Essentially, once this update goes live in May 2021, user experience will be a direct ranking factor in Google search results. So, you have to care about your users and work with them.
Abi Worsey, SEO team member, says: “Google has noticed a huge increase in the number of site owners now using tools like lighthouse and Page Speed Insights so they can improve their web pages, so much so that page experience and web vitals are now going to become signals for ranking.”
What can you do to get ready for the Page Experience Update?
There are a number of steps you need to take to be ready for the page experience update going live next spring. It’s likely that the update will be page-level, but if there are many pages that have the same issues, they can all be impacted.
You have to improve your page speed, user experience and design. An easy place to start with Google’s core web vitals report in Search Console. This gives you an overview of how your website is doing delving deeper into any issues. Once you’ve found opportunities to improve, Page Speed Insights and Lighthouse can help you as you fix them.
Doing an audit of your website is another starting point to see where there is room for improvement.
“The SEO audit involves checking a website against a list of best practice guidelines. This typically covers the URL architecture of the site, site speed, mobile responsiveness, on-page optimisation and a range of technical elements,” Jon Blakemore – We Influence SEO team member.
Read more: How to do an SEO Audit
A standard technical SEO audit will often cover:
- Site Architecture, Crawling & Indexing
- Site Speed
- Canonicalisation & Redirects
- Response Codes
- HTTP vs HTTPS
- Mobile Responsiveness & UX
- Schema / Structured Data Markup
- On-Page Optimisation
- Blog Setup / Optimisation
You also need to make sure your site is mobile-friendly. You can do this by ensuring primary content is the same on each site. Plus, make sure Google can access and see your content. This is similar to the requirements for Google’s mobile-first indexing update.
You’ll need to get started on some reports – some people enjoy these things – that include using the following tools:
- Search Console for Core Web Vitals
- AMP Reports
- Page Speed Insights
Abi Worsey adds: “The key takeaway for me is the focus on page speed and mobile-friendliness.
“We all have a focus on mobile-first; as shopping habits now lean that way, so we should be auditing with that in mind ensuring the page experience, is the best it can be on that device, without compromising the others.
“What do people need to do? Familiarise themselves with the tools, look at the recommendations and prioritise for their own sites.”
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