Last month Google made an announcement that they will be ranking pages based on user experience. This means if Google feels that your website users will have a poor user experience on your website pages, they will most probably not rank those pages as highly ranked as they currently are. 

What does this mean?

Previously Google would rank websites pages based on a variety of user experience criteria, such as mobile-friendliness, how quickly a page loads, if there are intrusive ads and if content jumps around as the page loads. However, early last month a set of metrics were introduced known as Core Web Vitals. These metrics relate to speed, responsiveness and visual stabilities in order to assist website owners to measure user experience online. 

What are Core Web Vitals?

A more in depth understanding of Core Web Vitals can assist a website owner in making sure their website pages are constantly being ranked high on Google. As previously mentioned Core Web Vitals include real-world, user experience metrics that score on various aspects of your pages including loading time, stability of the content as it loads and interactivity. These metrics fall under another set of metrics, which are known as Largest Content Painful (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). To elaborate:

Largest Content Painful (LCP): measures the loading performance of a page. In order to provide good user experience, LCP should appear within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading. 

First Input Delay (FID): measures interactive. In order to provide good user experience, website pages should have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): measures visual stability. In order to provide good user experience, pages should have a CLS of less than 0.1. 

(Core Web Vitals metrics fall under these specific metrics, 2020)

How do we put this into perspective?

When all these various criteria are grouped together, there is a page experience name for all these elements. It has been said that page rank experience specifically is not a ranking score, but rather each element has its own weight and rankings in the overall Google ranking algorithm.

(Core Web Vitals in search signals for page experience, 2020)

When should we expect this update?

Google has made it known that this new update will only be going live sometime in 2021, but the company has promised to give at least six months notice before going live. Although Google has normally provided sufficient notice before implementing, the reason for this changing being so far away is due to the uncertain times we are living in during this pandemic. 

We will be preparing for these ranking changes by using the various tools that were previously mentioned, in addition to using the Core Web Vitals in Google Search Console.

How big will this update really be?

To be honest, we have no idea how big it really will be. Rudy Galfi, the product lead on the Google Search ecosystem team, mentioned that they are not discussing how much each factor is weighted. He did go on to say that great content will still be the most important factor and that good content with poor page experience can still rank highly in Google search.

Google wrote, “While all of the components of page experience are important, we will rank pages with the best information overall, even if some aspects of page experience are subpar. A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content. However, in cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search,”

Why do we care?

Since Google has announced a new set of rankings factors under the page experience name, we have sufficient time to prepare for this ranking update as Google intends to go live with this update sometime in 2021. With all this time to prepare, it is important to us to be on top of our game and assist our clients to ensure excellent page experience to continue ranking highly on Google search. By using the tools Google has provided us with, we will successfully prepare websites for this update. We intend to keep you posted on when this new update from Google will be going live and what else we can do to assist you to prepare for this change. 

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