One of the biggest SEO announcements of the summer has been the Google Page Experience Update, which states user experience will become a ranking factor sometime in 2021.
While user experience has been at the forefront of Google’s search algorithms for many years, the Page Experience Update takes it a step further. Once the update is implemented, it will look at a web page’s speed and usability metrics, also known as the Core Web Vitals:
Image source: blog.chromium.org
Core Web Vitals assigned to the Google Page Experience Update
In Google’s own words, this means:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures perceived load speed and marks the point in the page load timeline when the page's main content has likely loaded.
- First Input Delay (FID) measures responsiveness and quantifies the experience users feel when trying to first interact with the page.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures visual stability and quantifies the amount of unexpected layout shift of visible page content.
Preparing for the update is critical to keep website pages ranking in search results. Below are some recommendations for how you can do just that before Google flips the switch on these new ranking factors.
Improve Page Load Speed
It’s clear that when your website pages load quickly, it makes for a better user experience. Data shows 53 percent of visitors abandon a mobile website if the page takes more than 3 seconds to load.
In the Page Experience Update, Google will be looking at how long it takes not only for your page to load overall but also at which point in that timeline the main content is loaded.
Therefore, if you don’t know how long it takes for your website pages to load (on desktop and mobile), then be sure to find out. If any of them are showing high load times, then you may need to look at videos, images, or other issues potentially causing the slowdown.
Reduce Bounce Rates
The bounce rate measures how much time a visitor spends on your website page. The less time they spend, the higher the bounce rate.
High bounce rates indicate visitors aren’t finding what they need on the website page, signaling to Google the page has little value for the query it appears for in search results. It can also be an indication of a bad user experience from something like a pop-up window that blocks the main content.
Analytics tools can provide insight into your bounce rates, and here you can find some fixes for common high bounce rate problems.
Eliminate Unexpected Layout Shifts
When the text you’re reading or a button you wanted to click suddenly moves to another position on the page, this is known as an unexpected layout shift. It’s incredibly frustrating for users, which is why it’s included as part of the Google Page Experience Update.
In order to avoid or eliminate this situation, you can:
- Include size attributes on your images and videos
- Avoid inserting content above existing content
- Ensure transitions are animated for context and continuity
If it feels like this recommendation is a bit technical, then you may want to consult a professional web developer who understands and is experienced in working with these elements.
While user experience has been an important component of SEO for several years, the Page Experience Update elevates these priorities to a new level. In order for your website pages to align with the new ranking factors, now is the time to start analyzing them the way your customers do.
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