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Google Announces New SEO Ranking Signals From May 2021

Google Puts Marketers On Notice 

Back in May, Google announced that page experience would be included in Google Search ranking. Now we’ve got a roll-out date.

May 2021 will be the date everyone has to prepare for as page experience signals in rankings will come into effect.

Brands and marketers should be focused on making their online offering as easy to navigate as possible, but this move from Google gives everyone a little nudge towards optimising their sites and providing an excellent user experience.

Following Google’s initial announcement, there’s been a rush of users engaging with Page Speed Insights and Lighthouse as site owners have been looking for ways to improve and get ahead of the upcoming changes.

What are page experience signals?

Jeffrey Jose, Product Manager on Search, Google

“These signals measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page and contribute to our ongoing work to ensure people get the most helpful and enjoyable experiences from the web.”

Essentially, this means that the quality of a page experience will be used as a helpful way for users to pick the Search result that they want to visit. It’s a set of signals that measure what value a user gains for your website beyond the information contained on the pages.

Page experience includes things like Core Web Vitals, which measures user experience as they relate to UX signals.

What harms a page experience?

Pages that load slowly, with intrusive adverts or dead areas on the site will be penalised because they’re annoying to visit. Clean feeling websites that have the user in mind, rather than getting a million ads in front of eyeballs, will be promoted.

Page experience will be one out of hundreds of signals that Google looks at when it pulls down Search results, so how big a role it will play in rankings is still to be determined.

Content is still key, so ensuring you have the best information will be more important than ensuring your site has the best page experience. However, when there are a few pages of similar relevance, page experience can make the difference and improve Search visibility.

At a time when marketing budgets are being squeezed, organic traffic and visibility are more important than ever before, and that makes staying on top of these latest changes incredibly important.

How can marketers test page experience?

Thankfully, there are a bunch of tools that you can use to test page experience and make sure your website is up to scratch.

  • Search Console. Search Console now includes a Core Web Vitals report to help webmasters see what pages require attention, based on data from the Chrome UX report.
  • PageSpeed Insights. These have now been upgraded and now use Lighthouse 6.0, which means PageSpeed Insights can measure Core Web Vitals in lab and field sections of the report.
  • Lighthouse. The 6.0 upgrade includes new metrics, audits and a fresh performance score. The new metrics provide useful information for optimising user experience. They are Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) and Total Blocking Time (TBT).
  • Chrome DevTools. These have been updated to help webmasters fix visual instability issues that a page may have.
  • Chrome UX Report. This is a report that continues user experience data from millions of websites. It measures field versions of the Core Web Vitals and reports on real-world data rather than test data.
  • Web Vitals Extension. This extension measures the three Core Web Vital metrics in real-time and can be installed from the Chrome Web Store.

How can marketers improve page experience?

If your page experience isn’t up to speed, this can be fixed with a little time and attention. These changes are going to be handy in the long-run, anyway, especially with the massive shift towards mobile browsing.

Improve page experience in the following ways:

  1. Preload essential resources to speed up visual load times
  2. Optimise main thread activity by minimising long tasks
  3. Reserve space for images and embeds to load into
  4. Make sure all key-page templates are mobile-friendly
  5. Audit your site for security issues
  6. Make sure forms and embedded resources are running via HTTPS
  7. Work hard to make sure interstitials don’t obstruct important content

All these changes can help you to future-proof your site, rank better in Search and provide a better experience for users. Those are three things brands and marketers should all be working towards, regardless of Google’s updates.

Learn with SMK W/C 4th July 2022

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