Google has recently announced a set of changes that will impact page rankings. Why is this big news? Firstly, Google doesn’t often announce when it is changing its algorithms, so when announcements are made we should really take notice. Secondly, we’ve been given 6 months’ notice. This has never happened before in the history of Google announcements, so we should all start to consider the changes we need to make.
What will these changes be?
In summary, from 2021 Google will start to rank your website based on “page experience criteria”. This means that your website will be judged on how users perceive the experience and if Google thinks your site provides a poor user experience, your pages might not perform so well on the search results. As these changes won’t go live until 2021, we have plenty of time to prepare. Google have called this the Google Page Experience update.
What is Page Experience?
Google has provided a detailed developer document on page user experience but in summary you need to think about the end user experience, and these factors include:
- Is your site mobile friendly according to Google (check here: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly).
- Page loading times (you can check this information in Google Analytics).
- Is your site secure – we have always encouraged our clients to move from http websites to https. If you don’t have a secure site, we would encourage you to make this move now (speak to whoever hosts your site). You can check your site security here.
- The page shouldn’t contain malicious (for example, malware) or deceptive content.
- Does content jump around the page when it is loading?
- We should avoid intrusive ads / pop-ups.
What are the metrics?
Page experience is already made up of these existing Google search ranking factors and Google calls them “Core Web Vitals”. These are measured as follows:
- LCP (Largest Contentful Paint) – Measures loading performance. This should ideally be within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.
- FID (First Input Delay) – Measures interactivity. This should ideally be less than 100 milliseconds.
- CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift). This measures visual stability and should ideally be less than 0.1.
You can speak to your web developer to ensure your website meets all of these metrics.
What does Google say?
Google has specifically said that page experience is not a ranking score, but rather, each element within has its own weights and rankings in the overall Google ranking algorithm. The good news is that content is still King! This is something we have been telling our clients for 10 years – make sure you have good quality content on your website that people want to read. Google made it clear that great content will still rank highly in Google Search, despite a poor page experience. “While all of the components of page experience are important, we will rank pages with the best information overall, even if some aspects of page experience are subpar. A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content. However, in cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search,” Google wrote.
We’ve got plenty of time to prepare for this update, but if you have any questions or if you would like to know more then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.