The Google Page Experience Update: What You Need to Know about This 2021 Update

Google Page Experience Update

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Google updates its algorithms regularly, which keeps webmasters and marketers on the edge, because these updates sometimes come suddenly without warning or detailed information. No matter what platform or plugins you are using, if you want to keep your business successful in this tech-savvy world, you need to keep up with these Google updates. Experienced and reliable social media marketing agencies will be up to date with such algorithms and core updates. However, last year surprisingly, Google announced a new update to its ranking algorithm called the Page Experience update in advance. This update announcement has given webmasters and search engine optimizers enough time to prepare for it. So, to prepare, first you need to know about this update. Let’s take a deep dive into the Google Page Experience Update.

What Is Page Experience Update?

Soon after the roll out of the May 2020 broad core update, on May 28, 2020, Google announced the Page Experience Update. Though initially set to release in May 2021, the update has been rescheduled from May to mid-June 2021 recently. Google says in a blog post that the Page Experience update will start rolling out in mid-June, but will not play its full role in search rankings until the end of August.

According to Google, “we’ll begin using page experience as part of our ranking systems beginning in mid-June 2021. However, page experience won’t play its full role as part of those systems until the end of August”.

The goal of this update is to ensure an improved web-browsing experience, both on mobile and desktop, because, page experience remains one of the many factors Google’s systems take into account. According to Google, “the page experience signal measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page”. Optimizing for these aspects makes the web more user-friendly and delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces. It will also help websites evolve towards user expectations on mobile. Google believes that all these factors will contribute to the success of a business, as users grow more engaged and can transact with less friction. But then, websites generally should not expect drastic changes.

Though content remains the most important factor for ranking, in certain cases – where there are multiple pages that have similar content – page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search.

In addition, as Google is doing this as a gradual rollout, they will also be able to monitor any unexpected or unintended issues. The search engine also hopes that this adjusted roll-out schedule will help users continue to make refinements to their sites with page experience in mind. Ahead of this change, Google has been gathering feedback to ensure that they are providing helpful guidance and answering questions that website owners may have about how to improve page experience for their users.

What Will Be Included in This Update?

The page experience update will include:

  • Core Web Vitals
  • Updated Top Stories carousel feature on Google Search
  • Updated Google News app
  • AMP badge icon will no longer be shown

The page experience update will consider several page experience signals, including the three Core Web Vitals metrics: LCP, FID, and CLS. Recently, Google notified that the page experience update will also consider updating the Top Stories carousel feature on Google Search to include all news content, provided it meets the Google News policies. Google News app will also witness certain updates since Google is expanding the usage of non-AMP content to power the core experience on news.google.com, and in the Google News app. Also, Google will no longer show the AMP badge icon to indicate AMP content.

How Is Page Experience Measured?

To understand how a user will perceive the experience of a specific web page, or simply to measure page experience, Google will measure certain ranking signals such as the dimensions of web usability also known as Core Web Vitals – that include page loading time, interactivity, and the stability of content as it loads – and several other existing page experience metrics such as:

  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Safe-browsing
  • HTTPS-security
  • Intrusive interstitial guidelines

    page experience

Image Source: https://www.singlegrain.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/pasted-image-0-2.png

Google takes these existing signals into consideration and combines them with Core Web Vitals – a set of real-world, user-centered metrics that quantify key aspects of the user experience.

Core Web Vitals

Introduced earlier in May 2020, Core Web Vitals are the subset of Web Vitals – a Google initiative to provide unified guidance for quality signals that are essential to deliver a great UX on the web – that apply to all web pages. These Web Vitals that are relevant to all web pages and are featured across relevant Google tools, represent a distinct aspect of the UX, which reflects the real-world experience of a critical user-centric outcome.

Though the metrics that make up Core Web Vitals will evolve over time, the current set focuses specifically on three aspects of UX:

  • Page load time
  • Interactivity
  • Visual stability

All these UX aspects will be surfaced across all relevant web pages and Google tools, and they should be measured by all site owners.

Along with these aspects, Google has also included the following metrics (and their respective thresholds) to Core Web Vitals, and that are:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This metric measures loading performance, that is, the time it takes for a page’s main content – specifically, the largest content element – to load. Ideally, you should aim to have an LCP of less than 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading or faster.
  • First Input Delay (FID): This metric measures interactivity, that is, it tracks the time between when a user first interacts with your web page to when the page actually responds. To provide a good UX, your pages should have an ideal measurement of FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This metric measures visual stability of the content on your web page. For instance, if your site layout shifts unexpectedly, it is considered a bad user experience. Therefore, ensure that your pages maintain a CLS of less than 0.1 to provide a good UX.

    core web vitals

Image Sources:
https://webdev.imgix.net/vitals/lcp_ux.svg
https://webdev.imgix.net/vitals/fid_ux.svg
https://webdev.imgix.net/vitals/cls_ux.svg

Apart from these updates, Google is also introducing the Page Experience report that combines the existing Core Web Vitals report with other components of the page experience signals such as HTTPS security, absence of intrusive interstitials, safe browsing status, and mobile friendliness.

page report

Image Source:
https://developers.google.com/search/blog/images/page-experience-report.png
This report will provide users with more actionable insights and valuable metrics.

Why Is the Google Page Experience Update So Important?

Though not a broad core algorithm, this Page Experience update could be important because once this update is rolled out, Google will measure your web pages – using ranking factors, Core Web Vitals and other UX signals – to examine how a user would perceive the experience of a specific web page.

For instance, if Google thinks your website users will have a poor experience on your web pages, then it may not rank those pages as highly as they are now. With this update, Google aims to help more website owners to build pages that users enjoy visiting.

However, along with page experience signal, content relevance is also still considerably important when it comes to rankings. That is, if a page has content that’s highly relevant to a query, it could possibly rank well – whether or not it had a poor page experience signal. And also, if there are two pages both providing outstanding content, then the one with the stronger page experience signal will rank higher in search results.

To reap the benefits of your content marketing efforts and to obtain a great page experience, you must optimize your website for the Google Page Experience Update. Well, thankfully, as Google has rescheduled this update to Mid-June, webmasters and marketers get at least another month to optimize their websites for this new update.

How to Optimize Your Website for the New Update?

To optimize your website for the new Page Experience Update, check out some steps that you need to keep in mind:

  • Make Your Website Responsive: To make your website responsive means making it mobile-friendly. Mobile-friendliness is one of the major parts of Page Experience Update as it has a major impact on your website’s ranking. Also, according to search engine journal, after mobile traffic overtook desktop traffic in 2016, it became important to ensure that websites were optimized for mobile devices – as an increasing number of users were browsing with it.

    Google announced that the company would switch to mobile-first indexing for all sites from September 2020.

    To determine if your website is responsive or if any of your pages has loading issues on your website, use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

    Apart from making your website mobile-friendly, certain other things should also be taken into consideration to improve the page experience of your mobile site. These include:

    • Keep menus short and organized to reduce the number of links in the menu bar.
    • Logo on your mobile site should take users to your home page.
    • Don’t hide your search box in the menu bar, instead make it easily accessible for your visitors.
    • Ensure that you upload responsive text and images.
    • All the content on your web page must be readable on devices of all sizes.
    • Avoid CTA buttons that open new windows in mobile devices.
    • CTA buttons should be placed above the fold and in the center.
    • Avoid using vague CTA buttons – like “learn more”
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  • Improve Your Site’s Loading Speed: Timing is everything! No matter how astonishing and amazing your website content is, it won’t do you any good if it doesn’t load fast enough. Let’s check some facts and stats supporting this point (neilpatel.com)
    • 73% of mobile internet users say that they’ve encountered a website that was too slow to load.
    • 47% of consumers expect a page load time of 2 seconds or less, and
    • 40% leave a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
    • A 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.

All this suggest that loading time is a major factor that affects user experience, that is, the faster a page loads, the better the user experience will be.

According to Google, “when the load time of a site goes from 1 second to 3 seconds, the probability of the user bouncing increases by 32% and when it further increases to 6 seconds, then your bounce rate can increase by 106%”.

Image Source:
https://www.singlegrain.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/pasted-image-0-3.png

page load

Image Source:
https://www.singlegrain.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/pasted-image-0-3.png

So, to optimize your website for increasing loading speed, the first step you can take is check how long your website takes to completely load in Google’s PageSpeed Insights. This tool will give certain recommendations to improve your site speed and will also display the estimated savings for each recommendation. Once you have followed the recommendations suggested by PageSpeed Insights, you can also follow certain other steps, such as:

  • Compressing all the images on your website
  • Using a Content Distribution Network (CDN) to save various copies of your website on multiple locations across the globe.
  • Creating Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs), to load your website quickly on mobile devices.
  • Eliminating unnecessary HTML, CSS and JavaScript codes
  • Using asynchronous loading for CSS and JavaScript files to load them simultaneously.
  • Enabling browser caching to increase the load time for returning visitors.
  • Audit Your Website for Security Issues: Alongside load performance and mobile friendliness, website security also play a part in the optimization of page experience, as Google wants webmasters to offer the best possible experience to its users, which includes safeguarding their online information. Also, poor website security will have a negative impact on your SEO rankings.

    Malware, unwanted software, phishing, and deceptive content, are the main security issues that you need to be aware of. Take a look at the Security issues report in Google Search Console- which can be found under the Security & Manual Actions heading – as it is an easy way to check whether or not your website has these security issues that could put your users at risk. Once you fix the problems, click on “Request Review” to inform Google that you have improved your site’s security.

    sites security
    Image Source:
    https://cdn.searchenginejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/image012-5fa19e45c7495-768×456.png

    To avoid the risk of getting affected by the Page Experience Update, make your website HTTPS. That is, implement an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate – a digital certificate that provides authentication of an encrypted connection for a website – on your site. However, while implementing SSL certificate, choose the right type of SSL certificate depending on the kind of customer data you collect.

NOTE: There are more steps you could implement on your website to optimize for the Page Experience Update. These steps will be discussed in our next blog.

Along with Page Experience Update, Google will also test various ways to display a “visual indicator” in the search results that will inform a user if a specific search result is expected to have a great experience. The company noted that if the testing of this visual indicator is successful, users may see these icons and labels in the search results after the page experience update.

Just like any other Google algorithm update, this update is also going to be revised and modified with the time to make them more effective. However, the best part of this page experience update is that it gives webmasters plenty of time to prepare for it. With proper preparation, you can stay ahead of your competitors and can continue to provide value for your website visitors. So, start optimizing your website and enhance its usability from now. Consider partnering with an experienced Long Island social media marketing agency to optimize your website for the update, as they would prepare themselves for such sudden changes and help their clients deal with such algorithm changes by updating their strategies as needed.