Earlier this year, Google announced it was deploying changes to how its search algorithm assessed and ranked pages through a page experience update. Last week, Google confirmed the rollout was complete, including updates to the Top Stories carousel on mobile devices. Updates to the Google News app are still rolling out but are expected to be complete in the coming days.
What is page experience?
According to Google, an ideal page experience enables people to complete tasks more efficiently and possess deeper engagement, while a negative page experience could hinder a person’s ability to find key information on a page.
The page experience update is a new ranking algorithm that considers a set of metrics Google uses to determine if a page is offering an optimal browsing experience for its users. In essence, if Google thinks your website visitors will have a poor experience on your page, you might start to see the ranking drop. Contrarily, a positive page experience may increase rankings in search engine result pages (SERPs).
Some metrics factored into Google’s page experience update (specifically, mobile-friendliness, HTTPS and intrusive interstitial guidelines) have existed for some time, but others are new.
In June this year, Google introduced Core Web Vitals, which helps monitor website speed and functionality, and is governed by real user experiences. You can read more about that here. This latest update combines existing signals for user experience with Core Web Vitals and packages them up as subsets of one broad “page experience” signal.
Google’s page experience ranking signals:
- Core Web Vitals
- Largest contentful paint (LCP): Is your webpage load time optimal?
- First input delay (FID): Can users easily interact with your page?
- Cumulative layout shift (CLD): Are your webpage elements stable enough to prevent a bad user experience?
- Mobile-friendly: Can users access your site easily via mobile?
- HTTPS: Is your site connection secure?
- No intrusive interstitials: Can users access your page’s main content easily when clicking through from search results?
What does the update mean for my website?
Users have a plethora of online content sources to choose from, and if you’re not ranking high on Google, you risk not being found – 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results. In the past, if a person had a negative experience when viewing your page, they likely made a rapid exit and found another site to satisfy their needs, which indirectly affected your page rank. Now, Google’s new page experience signals are a direct ranking factor, and pages considered more user-friendly will be pushed higher on Google’s SERP.
What can I do to negate negative impacts to my site?
The good news is that Google has detailed exactly what factors make up its page experience signal. Marketers can use this information to benchmark their performance and make updates accordingly to best optimise page experience.
Here’s some things you can do:
- Measure and report your Core Web Vitals. We’ve explained how to do this here.
- Check webpages are mobile-friendly.
- Check your website’s connection is secure.
- Ensure interstitials (website popups) across your side aren’t making content less accessible for mobile users. Intrusive interstitials are typically advertisements.
The page experience update signifies the Google’s continual shift towards improving user experience. There’s no better time than the present to ensure people have a seamless, enjoyable experience on your website. If you’ve rectified problems and are implementing high-quality content, you shouldn’t feel the effects of the update. If anything, you could see higher ranking results.