Google announced the page experience update in late 2020. A highly unusual avenue for deployment of their updates given previously, they’ve opted to announce these on the fly without warning. The change of tactic indicates these changes could have a major impact on websites, business owners and developers.
The page experience update will go live in Mid-June and have a direct impact on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Only time will tell as to the exact result and level of impact, but site owners should be aware. For those unfamiliar with SEO, please read what is SEO and why is it important.
Summarising page experience
Fairly self-explanatory, page experience refers to the level of positive or negative (hopefully not) experiences that a user has with a web page. Now you’re probably thinking that would be an incredibly difficult measurement to take, given the unique nature of an ‘experience’. However, Google has already had some page experience elements as part of its SEO algorithm in:
HTTPS (security certificate)
Intrusive interstitial guidelines (pop ups)
The most recent update, scheduled for the end of May 2021, will now include Google’s Web Vitals as part of the equation. Notably, the following areas:
Loading: A measure of speed, the point where the main site contents have loaded.
Interactivity: The time it takes for a user to have the ability to interact with a page.
Visual stability: How the site is presented, a measurement of annoying or unexpected movement of site elements.
For those with developing knowledge, these are also know as your sites Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID) and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). More technical information on the update is available here.
Up until the announcement of the page experience update, many people believed loading speeds were already a factor in SEO. Whilst that’s true in part, load speed was a direct factor in bounce rate, which had a direct impact on search results. Thus, load times were an indirect SEO factor.
This update however, places load time as a direct ranking factor, rewarding sites built for performance and harming those not. If you haven’t optimised your site for performance and speed, it is most certainly time to do so.
Google’s web vital ‘interactivity’ refers to the speed at which a user can make an interaction with a web page. For example, open a new page, call a phone or swipe a photo. Whilst most sites load quickly (visually), there is a delay between the time it loads and the time it takes to interactivity. In today’s world, people are browsing and scouring the web faster than ever, so it make sense to reward sites delivering functionality faster than their competitors.
Is your site delivering functionality to its users quickly and effectively?
Have you ever loaded a website (particularly on mobile) and the page elements jump around before your eyes before locking in place? Known as visual stability, Google’s cracking down on sites who would prefer to give their users a seizure rather than a positive experience. A page with visual stability issues usually indicates poor craftsmanship by the developer.
Delivering positive experiences
As a business, we are so caught up in delivering positive experiences to customers during and post service. That we forget someone’s first impression is often the most decisive factor in a sale. If you wouldn’t deliver a negative experience at any stage of your service, why would you deliver a poor experience to a potential customer, likely visiting your site for the first time.
At the end of the day, organisations who cater to their customers needs and deliver above-average experiences will trump their competition. This is the very philosophy Google is executing in its latest update, and in each and every update it has ever released. The better their search engine satisfies search intent and customer experience, the more revenue they create.