We promised to update you and here we are, updating you! Back in June 2020, Google announced that page experience will become a ranking factor. Google has finally announced the launch date which will be May 2021, giving us six months to prepare. “Today we’re announcing that the page experience signals in ranking will roll out in May 2021,” Jeffery Jose from Google said in the announcement. This means the update takes user experience into account for ranking in search results.

“The new page experience signals combine Core Web Vitals with our existing search signals including mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS-security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines.”

Jeffery Jose

What is Page Experience?

Page experience is understanding how a user perceives the experience of a web page, such as how quickly the page loads, the mobile-friendliness of the web page, HTTPS, and whether content jumps around the page as it loads – these are all signals Google evaluate called Core Web Vitals. 

(SocialMediaToday, 2020)

The three elements that make up the Core Web vitals are:

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This is used to measure the load performance and the speed in which the key visual elements on web pages become available for users after clicking through. Websites should strive for an LCP occurring within the first 2.5 seconds of the page starting to load as these sites are considered to have a good user experience, according to Google. There are various third-party tools to test a web page LCP such as Pingdom. 

First Input Delay (FID): Similarly to LCP, this element measures the time it takes for a web page to become interactive so the user can begin clicking and searching. A website should strive for an FID of less than 100 milliseconds as Google considers this a good FID score. Tools such as Chrome user experience report and PageSpeed insights can be used to measure a web page FID. 

(Wed.dev, 2020)

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): CLS measures visual stability. This refers to a user clicking on a specific icon on a web page and then resulting in the web page moving and shifting making the user accidentally click on something else taking them to the wrong destination. Poor stability results in a lower ranking. Read more about why CLS occurs here.

Preparing for the Page Experience update

The best place to start is getting a sense of how a web page is performing by looking at the Core Web Vitals report in Google Search Console. Google’ Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) will continue to be supported by Google, but will not require web articles to show in the Top Stories carousel in the search after the launch update. 

If a web page publishes an AMP version of their content, Google mentioned, “ Google search will link to that cache-optimized AMP version to help optimize delivery to users…” 

The impact this update will have on rankings is still unclear, yet many SEO experts believe it to be minor, as many of the Page Experience signals have already been factored into Google’s search algorithm. 

The head of content SEO at HubSpot said in June “I think this gives you good ammunition to go to your web team or your performance team and say, ‘Hey, you know, Google . . . [is] going to release this in six months and so we need to focus on it. It can be hard to convince those teams that what you want to focus on is what they want to focus on, so any kind of official update or messaging does help push your cause.”

Why do we care?

Google made the update announcement in June 2020, and now that the launch has a set month we have around six months to prepare for the ranking update. We’ve been preparing for this since the announcement in June, so with six months away, it’s important to get your UX in top shape! We can assist you as well for the change that will be taking over 2021!

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