Google is adding ‘Page Experience’ to its algorithm as a ranking factor in May 2021. Ranking factors are the criteria that search engines use when deciding where to rank your website in its search results. So this update will affect how pages on your website will rank on Google. While this may seem a while away yet, there are steps you can already take to prepare.
What is Page Experience?
Page experience is about how user-friendly a website is. Factors that contribute to a good user experience include:
- Faster page load times
- Mobile-friendly pages
- Stable content during load times
Why is Page Experience Important?
In Google’s own words:
“Great page experiences enable people to get more done and engage more deeply; in contrast, a bad page experience could stand in the way of a person being able to find the valuable information on a page.”
Optimising for page experience helps your visitors, allowing them to be more engaged with your content, meaning they will stick around longer, increasing the chance of making a sale.
What Changes will Google Make?
User experience is not an entirely new ranking factor. Google has been adding various factors to its algorithms in recent years, including mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines (pop-ups that cover the page, or the majority of it, and lead to a bad experience for users).
In the new update, Google will be combining these existing factors with its Core Web Vitals, a set of metrics to help measure user experience. These metrics include page load time, interactivity, and stability of content as it loads (ever accidentally pressed a button because the page moved while loading?).
By combining these elements into one ranking factor, page experience will have more weighting in Google search algorithms. However, while page experience will be more significant, the quality of content will continue to be rated first, even if the page experience isn’t quite up to scratch.
Google says “A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content.” Where this new ranking factor will become most relevant is when two pages have similar content – then the one with the best experience will be ranked first.
Going forward, Google intends to add new page experience factors yearly.
How to Get Ready for Google’s Page Experience Update
To help prepare for the update, Google has updated some of its tools to help you optimise your site.
Google Search Console
You can now find a Core Web Vitals report for page experience in Google Search Console to give you an idea of what changes, if any, you need to make.
Check Your Website Speed
Page speed is how long it takes for your content to load. Load time is significant because slow load times can be frustrating to users, and may more often than not make them click away – a potential lost sale. According to a KissMetrics survey, 47% of consumers expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less. From this it’s clear to see how important website speed optimisation is.
Many factors can slow a page loading, such as large images, too many ads, errors in the code, and bad hosting. The Google PageSpeed Insights tool has been updated with new metrics to help you gain insights into your page speed ahead of the update. You can also use Google Lighthouse for gauging the overall technical quality and user experience of individual web pages.
Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly?
In 2019 over 8 out of 10 adults used the internet “on the go”, with a mobile phone or smartphone being the most popular device of choice (79%) (ONS, 2019). With so many people reaching for their mobile devices to access the Internet, mobile optimisation becomes essential. To increase page experience, make sure you are serving your customers with mobile-friendly website design.
Check how your web pages look on different mobile devices. Is everything nicely aligned and suitably spaced, can you view the images without scrolling or zooming in, is the text readable? You can also check your site for mobile-friendliness using Google’s free Mobile Friendly Test tool. If you do find any issues with your website, it’s a good idea to get in touch with your web developer to make your site mobile responsive.
Other questions to consider before the update include:
- Does your site use a secure connection? (HTTPS)
- Is your site harmless for visitors? (Safe browsing with no Malware)
- Does your site steer clear of pop-ups? (no intrusive interstitials)
When Will the Page Experience Update Go Live?
Google understands that most businesses are concerned with the effects of COVID-19 right now, which is why they have decided not to release this update until next year.
There is no official date as yet; however, Google says they will provide at least six months’ notice before rolling out the update. By announcing it now Google is giving people plenty of time to prepare. So while no immediate action is required, it’s good to get a head start. Take a look at our article on SEO in 2021: A Guide to Google’s Page Experience Update.
How Yell Can Help
All new Yell websites are built using HTTPS, mobile optimised, and search engine-friendly. We offer a free performance report for you to see how your existing website measures up to best practice standards. Click here to get your FREE report now.