SEO

What is Google’s update and what does it mean for your website’s SEO?

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Google recently announced an update to its ranking algorithm, which is now designed to judge web pages based on how users interact with the page. Essentially, if Google thinks your website users will have a bad user experience on your site, Google may not rank those pages as highly as they are now.

This update is called the Google Page Experience update. 

But don’t panic too much, the update isn’t expected to go live until 2021 so you have plenty of time to prepare your site and make any necessary changes.  

To help you on your way to achieving high-quality UX, we’ve broken down and explained the update in a bit more detail.  

What is page experience?

As you’d expect, Google has a detailed developer checklist on the criteria that should be met for good page experience. But in short, these criteria aim to understand how a user perceives the experience of a specific web page.  

Does your web page load quickly? Is it mobile-friendly? Does it run on HTTPS? Is the page full of annoying, intrusive ads? These are all criteria that Google will be taking into consideration in the new update.  

Page experience is made up of several already existing Google search ranking factors, such as the mobile-friendly update, page speed update, HTTPS ranking boost, the intrusive interstitials penalty, and safe browsing penalty, and refining details around speed and usability. These are known as Core Web Vitals by Google. 

What are Core Web Vitals? 

Core Web Vitals include user-centred metrics, which gives scores on aspects of your pages including load time, interactivity and the stability of content as it loads. Here’s what Google will use to measure these metrics: 

Load time

Google will use Largest Contentful Pain (LCP) to measure loading performance. 

What is LCP? This is a measurement of how quickly the main content of a web page loads and is visible to users. 

LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading. Anything between 2.5 - 4 seconds needs improvement, and anything over 4 seconds will be classed as poor.  

Good: 0 – 2.5 seconds  

Needs improvement: 2.5 - 4 seconds 

Poor: 4+ seconds 

Interactivity

Google will use First Input Delay (FID) to measure interactivity. To be classed as providing a good user experience, your web page should have a FID of less than 100 milliseconds. Anything between 100 and 300 milliseconds needs improvement and anything over will be classed as poor.  

What is FID? FID measures the time when a user first interacts with a page (link click, tap a button etc.) to the time when the browser can respond to that interaction.  

Good: 0 – 100 milliseconds 

Needs improvement: 100 – 300 milliseconds 

Poor: 300+ milliseconds 

Stability of Content

Google will use Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) to measure the stability of content. To provide a good user experience, pages should have a CLS of less than 0.1 

Good: 0.1 

Needs improvement: 0.1 - 0.25 

Poor: 0.25+ 

What does the update mean for your website? 

When you group all these elements together, you get the Page Experience name. Google has said that page experience on its own is not a ranking factor, but each element within Page Experience carries its own weight within the overall Google ranking algorithm.  

Essentially, to achieve good Page Experience, you should consider checking each of these elements any making any recommended improvements to your site. It isn’t known which element carries the most or least weight in the Google ranking algorithm, so it’s worth working on each metric. 

How to prepare for the update?

Google have said that this update won’t be going live just yet, but will be coming into place sometime in 2021 and Google have promised to give six-months' notice before it goes live, so you’ll have time to make any necessary changes. 

What else should you be doing? 

Google have made it clear you should still be posting great content to your website, and great content will still rank highly in Google (even if there is a poor page experience).

Google said “While all of the best 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”. 

If you’re concerned about how your website is performing and are in need of a development team to help prepare your website for the new Google update, get in touch with our team today.