Google Elevates Website UX As Page Experience Kicks In
In November 2020, Google announced that it would be making changes to its Search algorithm based on page experience.
Now it’s spilt the beans and has confirmed a winter roll out date, albeit slightly later than initially planned.
Webmasters now have until June to get ready for the change and make their sites somewhere users love to be. Failure to get in line could see hosts penalised.
Google is determined to make this a smooth landing, and as a result, page experience won’t play a full part in ranking until August. Google’s softly, softly catchy monkey approach will give brands and marketers more time to make any necessary adjustments.
However, anxious site owners don’t necessarily need to sprint to their panic stations just yet. Google stated that experience will form part of the overall algorithmic puzzle but won’t be the be-all-and-end-all, although it would still be a good idea to get all your ducks in a row regarding this update.
“This update is designed to highlight pages that offer great user experiences, page experience remains one of many factors our systems take into account.
Given this, sites generally should not expect drastic changes. In addition, because we’re doing this as a gradual rollout, we will be able to monitor for any unexpected or unintended issues.”
Why does page experience matter?
Google wants the web to be a lovely place for everyone to be, and that’s why it’s pushing page experience.
“By adding page experience to the hundreds of signals that Google considers when ranking search results, we aim to help people more easily access the information and web pages they’re looking for, and support site owners in providing an experience users enjoy.”
It also believes that people spend more time on sites that provide a good experience, which will help increase the chance of a businesses’ success online. Google will focus on the following areas when determining if your site is providing the goodies or not.
- Core Web Vital signals
- Mobile-friendliness indicators
- Safe browsing methods
- HTTPS security
- Intrusive interstitial guidelines
Some of the above falls into the camps of technical teams, while others are more design-led. However, it is likely in many organisations that marketing and comms teams may have to play a part in coordinating and project managing across the board.
The page experience update will be a fluid process, said Google, and more signals will be added on an annual basis to ensure websites continue to provide their users with the best possible experience.
However, Google did add that sites with great, informative content but subpar page experience could still rank well. But, in a warning shot to those operating in a crowded marketplace, it did say that ‘multiple pages that have similar content’ will be judged more harshly on their page experience.
Start testing your page experience with these tools
Now is probably a good time for website owners to begin testing page experience. Thankfully, there are a number of tools available so you can do just that.
- Search console. You can check out your Core Web Vitals report from Search Consol. This will give webmasters an overview of which pages need the most attention. It pulls data from Chrome’s UX report.
- Lighthouse. Its new updates includes audits, a new performance score and new metrics that provide information on Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) and Total Blocking Time (TBT).
- PageSpeed Insights. This has been upgraded and measures Core Web Vitals in lab and field sections of the report.
- Web Vitals Extension. This measures three Core Web Vital metrics and can be installed via the Chrome Web Store.
- Chrome UX Report. This report measures field versions of Core Web Vitals and reports on real-world data instead of lab data. It also monitors user experience data from millions of website.
- Chrome DevTools. These have now been updated to help webmasters fix visual instability issues that a page might have.
Debates are still raging within the SEO community about the expected impact of the forthcoming page experience update. However, simply put, even if the SEO effect is limited, how could having a faster, more user-friendly website be a bad thing?
Worst case, your website conversions and user satisfaction improves. Best case, your website conversions, user satisfaction and organic search engine rankings improve.
Happy days, whatever the eventual outcome.