Page Experience Update
As we said in last month’s Round Up, May was a busy month for SEO! We started the month with a Core Update and finished it with Google revealing the upcoming arrival of another search update: the page experience update.
What is the Page Experience Update?
The Page Experience update will update the signals Google examines and considers when ranking a page in organic search. Page Experience is a part of User Experience (UX) and looks at the how well different elements of a webpage perform to determine how accessible and engaging the page is for users. If a webpage performs well, it will get a good page experience score. Following the update, achieving a high page experience score will be important for good rankings in search.
Basically, Page Experience is joining SEO and UX in search matrimony.
As part of the update a new ranking signal will be included in Google’s search algorithm, one that looks at metrics associated with the page experience of a webpage. Confirmed metrics that will be considered are the ones observed by Google’s Core Web Vitals.
Some page experience signals already taken into consideration by Google include:
- Mobile Responsiveness
These signals are being extended upon on a yearly basis as Google identifies more areas that contribute to a good page and user experience.
What are Core Web Vitals?
Core Web Vitals (CWV) are the metrics Google uses to quantify user experience. They’re the universal usability dimensions that apply to all websites.
CWV is a step closer to understanding and gaining a better ability of measuring page speed. It’s also a confirmation for us that page speed is a ranking factor for Google (which we’ve always suspected!), with a revealed target load time of 2.5 seconds.
Metrics included in CWV are:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): measures perceived load time and identifies when the majority of content has loaded.
First Input Delay (FID): measures responsiveness and interactivity by identifying the time between a user initiating an interaction and that the page responding to that initiation.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): measures visual stability and the unexpected layout shift of visible page content.
Why focus on Page Experience?
Google has always placed emphasis on creating websites that appeal to the user rather than search engine algorithms. To do this the user needs to be the centre focus of any content or design implementation. The better a page experience is, the happier a user is and the more likely they’ll return to your site on another occasion.
Informative, relevant content is a vital step to bringing users to your site and engaging. However, this can easily be thwarted by other on-page elements.
It is no longer enough to just have good content. The content needs to be accessible. Google is zooming out and looking more and more at the overall performance of the page. If a page is slow to load or has poor interactivity, users can be quick to escape the poor UX and bounce off your page. Taking page experience into account will help prevent usability and accessibility from restricting your website’s potential.
What will change as a result of the update?
There will be more requirements for your page to rank well in organic search. Page Experience looks at more than the content on your site, it looks at how that content is presented, how it can be interacted with and how accessible it is to users of all capabilities. Usability and accessibility are elements websites have already been encouraged to incorporate in their digital marketing; ones that have done so shouldn’t expect too much to change.
As part of this update, Google will be making additional amendments to Top Stories eligibility. Once the update is rolled out AMP will no longer be needed to be eligible to appear in Top Stories on mobile devices. This will increase competition for Top Stories, but those with AMP implemented now shouldn’t expect to see any change to behaviour (according to Google).
Google’s developer tools, such as Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights will also be updating to help websites with optimising and identifying where page experience issues are.
How will the page experience update affect SEO?
This update is placing the user right at the centre (as if they weren’t there already?!) and by extension your SEO should be doing the same. By doing this a lot of your SEO strategy doesn’t change, as nothing should be subtracted from your current plan. But, your plan should grow as more areas need to be reviewed to ensure your landing pages consider page experience in order to rank well in organic search.
Content will still be key; page experience will not usurp this signal. Google have stated that they will prioritise the pages that have the best content and information overall, even if some of there page experience elements are subpar. Page Experience is not replacing any current SEO requirements, your content still needs to be top notch.
Accessibility will become more integral to your SEO strategy. This includes elements such as accurate captions on videos, alt tags that accurately describe images, clear easy to read font and a user journey that is easy to follow and enables a high conversion rate. We recommend speaking to your agency or in-house experts about User Experience. You’ll want to review the conversion journeys on your site too, so CRO is another service to consider.
In terms of service relations, your developers may find themselves working more closely with your SEO team. The page experience update will involve reviewing the usability and accessibility of your website design, by ensuring it loads quickly, is responsive and that the design isn’t intrusive. For all this to be optimised, your web developers need to be aligned with your SEO team.
When will the update be released?
Google have said we should not expect the update to roll out before next year, and that they will provide at least 6 months notice ahead of rolling out the update. This means we have plenty of time, with the update potentially not even launching until 2022. This early notice period is to ensure websites have plenty of time to prepare, review and update their websites ahead of the update. Google does not believe there is any need for immediate action, and we agree. However, it is important to start discussions now to ensure your SEO strategy takes this update into consideration over the upcoming months.
Update April 2021
In April 2021, Google announced that introducing the page experience ranking signal for search would begin a gradual rollout in mid June 2021.
Want to chat SEO?
We recommend you make the most of this opportunity to get ahead, and we’re happy to help. If you want to talk to us about your SEO and the UX of your website, please do email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to have a chat and find out how we can support you.
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