Google’s sudden algorithm updates can create quite the stir in the SEO world. From the lack of details to the suddenness of it all, marketers everywhere are left scratching their heads. The latest change, the Google Page Experience update, is set to debut this May. This update will take user experience into consideration and impact ranking factors in 2021. Google also stated that they were testing a “visual indicator that highlights pages in search results that have great page experience”. If you’re wondering what this means for your business, the experts at beMarketing are sharing what it is and how you can best prepare for it.
What Is Page Experience?
In Google’s own words, the Google Page Experience update uses signals to, “measure aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page. Optimizing for these factors makes the web more delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces, and helps sites evolve towards user expectations on mobile.”
In simpler terms, Google is looking for how usable your website is. Utilizing Core Web Vitals (loading speeds, interactivity, and visual stability), along with several other performance metrics (mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, security (HTTPS), and no intrusive interstitials), Google will assess user quality experience on specific web pages.
Google’s Core Web Vitals consist of three separate signals including:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – quickness of the main content piece’s loading time, usually the largest content element. You should aim to have an LCP under 2.5 seconds.
- First Input Delay (FID) – responsiveness to clicking, scrolling, and typing. Also known as page responsiveness. A good benchmark for FID is less than 100 milliseconds.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – visual stability of the webpage. CLS looks at the unexpected shift of page elements while the site is still loading. Page shifts can be caused by popups, ads, images, videos, and more. The lower the CLS score the better, so aim for 0.1 or lower.
While these are the only user experience signals right now, Google has expressed its plans to update these signals annually while they expand and adapt the aspects of page experience that affect Google rankings.
If you’re still feeling a bit confused, that’s okay! In the simplest terms, this update will place more user-friendly sites higher up on Google rankings. The good news is that you don’t have to understand the technical ins and outs of the Core Web Vitals to prepare your website with actionable ways to focus and improve user experience.
How to Prepare for the User Experience Update
Google has assured marketers that it would give six months’ notice before rolling out this newest update due to the ongoing pandemic and the unstable environment surrounding it. This gives you plenty of time to evaluate your current site and optimize your user experience. Here are a few steps you can take to get your website ready.
Optimize Site Speed
One of the easiest and most obvious places to start is site speed. The faster your website loads, the better your user experience will be. Whether you have a server in-house or use a hosting service, you need to ensure your website is fast and responsive. If you’re wondering how to find your site speed and how you can go about reducing it, Google offers an easy-to-use tool called PageSpeed Insights. Here, you enter your domain URL and Google scores your site on a scale from 0-100, with 90-100 being ideal. You can also find a breakdown of your Core Web Vital scores with suggestions on improving them.
Reducing site speeds can be confusing but some initial ways to improve your website speed include:
- Compressing large images
- Reducing redirects
- Fixing 400 and 404 errors
Optimize for Mobile
Ensuring your website is mobile-friendly is important and will have a major impact on your website’s ranking. This will need to take priority before the new Page Experience update goes into effect. You can quickly test your website’s mobile responsiveness with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool. According to Google, to build a mobile responsive website:
- Use variable fonts
- Pages should be scrollable
- Bulleted lists and menus should be short and organized
- Buttons should be big enough for mobile devices and avoid launching new windows
- The search bar should be easily accessible
- Your logo should take users to your home page
- Text and images should be responsive
The good news here is that most website creation platforms offer hundreds of mobile-friendly templates, so no additional coding is required and even the most novice of designers can create something easily.
Improve Site Security
The Google Page Experience update wants webmasters to offer site users the best possible experience and that includes site security and browsing safety. Now is a great time to double-check your website and protect it from malware and other hacking attempts. Add a firewall and ensure that your site offers a secure HTTPS connection. If your website begins with HTTP, purchase and install an SSL certification, or turn on SSL within your domain provider. Investing in website security is worth it for peace of mind and it can positively impact your SEO rankings.
At beMarketing, we make it our mission to keep you up-to-date with all of Google’s latest improvements. Utilizing our website design, development, and management systems, we provide our clients with easy-to-use websites that are search engine- and mobile-friendly, visually appealing, and follow best web standard practices. If you’re ready to highlight your competitive advantage with our digital services, connect with our team today!