New Year, new problems. Coming in May of this year, Google will begin measuring the user experience of webpages as part of its algorithm to determine a page’s ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). This update is known as the Page Experience ranking, and it's actually made up of several factors that all affect a user’s experience on a website.
How Page Experience is Measured
While Page Experience is not specifically a ranking score, each element within it has its own weight and ranking in the overall Google ranking algorithm. Therefore, it’s important to understand how exactly Google will determine a website’s Page Experience score so you can make the most of it.
The Core Web Vitals:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This metric measures the loading performance of a webpage. LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds for a good experience.
First Input Delay (FID): this metric measures interactivity or responsiveness. Pages should have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds for a good experience.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This is a new metric that measures the stability of a page when it loads, assessing whether content, buttons or images move around the page as it loads. For a good experience, pages should maintain a CLS of less than 0.1.
Beyond the Core Web Vitals, there are other factors to a good user experience that Google will consider.
Mobile Friendliness: How responsive and adaptive your website is for different screen sizes.
Safe Browsing: Whether a page contains malicious or deceptive content such as malware or social engineering schemes.
HTTPS Security: Whether a page is served over HTTPS. You can see this visually as https:// versus http:// in your URL, where the former is SSL secured.
No Intrusive Interstitials: In other words, how accessible the content on a page is for users, not being obscured by popups or huge banners that are difficult to navigate away from. It’s important to note that disclaimers, cookie usage information, age-sensitive content confirmations, login dialogs and reasonably sized banners won’t negatively affect your Page Experience.
At the end of the day, content is still king of the Google Search algorithm, though. If your website offers users the best information overall, then it’s okay if some of the metrics for Page Experience are poor. However, in cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, Page Experience becomes much more important for optimal visibility on SERPs.
What’s a Marketer to Do?
Since these changes won’t be taking effect until May, you still have a little time to get ready. Beyond doing some basic things such as compressing images on your site so they load faster, securing your site with HTTPS or getting rid of intrusive pop-ups, there may be more you can do. Whether your focus is your own website or a client’s, your media stewards will help ensure that you’re digital-ready in 2021.
If you have any questions about how Page Experience updates will impact your activities online, feel free to reach out to The Ward Group today!