Google page experience algorithm now in operation


How to prepare for Google‘s page experience update rolled out in June 2021

Blog update: July 2021 - despite a delay in the originally rollout time frame for May 2021, this algorithm is now in play

Have you made the necessary changes to your website for the Google page experience algorithm? This was originally scheduled for May 2021 but was actually delayed until June 2021 and is now complete.

Google’s algorithms are complex systems that are used to gather data from the search index so that users get the best possible results when they type in a search query. A number of ranking signals and algorithms are used by Google to present webpages on its search engine result pages (SERPs).

In the beginning, only a handful of algorithm updates were made. Now though, Google makes thousands of changes every year. A lot of these amendments are so slight that they won’t even be noticed. However, some of them are significant and can have a big impact, and that’s why we’ve put together this post on the page experience algorithm that is set to be rolled out in May.

What is page experience?

Page experience is the latest search ranking benchmark that is going to be used by the major search engine. This metric is all about determining how usable your website is.

As Google has stated, this algorithm will measure elements of how users perceive the experience of using your website.

By optimising your site for these specific page experience factors, you can make sure your website is more enjoyable for all web browsers and devices, as well as helping you to evolve to mobile expectations as well.

It is all about removing any friction that may be involved in the website experience at the moment.

How important is this new update?

With Google releasing updates all of the time, you may be wondering how important this latest update is. The answer is: very important!

The introduction of the page experience algorithm is all about bringing people more of the websites they love. It’s about user experience/UX.

Yes, keywords and links are important, but we’re seeing a greater focus on the experience the user has while on a website, and this is a trend that is unlikely to change. In fact, we’re pretty sure you will end up seeing more algorithm updates focused on user experience in the near future.

What factors will Google look at to determine page experience?

Now we must pose the question: what makes a good page experience? What is Google going to consider when determining whether your website is enjoyable or not?

There are three main areas that Google has specified:

  • Visual stability;
  • Interactivity; and

The focal points that have been outlined correspond with the three new metrics:

  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) - This metric is designed to measure the percentage of the screen that is impacted by movement; i.e. whether items are jumping around on the screen.
  • First Input Delay (FID) - This metric assesses how long it takes for a browser to respond to an interaction that has been triggered by the user; for example, clicking on a website button.
  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) - This metric will tell Google how long it takes for the biggest content element on your page to load; for example, your primary banner image.

These new metrics will join a number of other factors that are already used to rank page experience. This includes safe browsing, interstitial use (i.e. whether your site stays away from nasty pop-ups), how secure your website is (HTTPS), and whether your site is mobile-friendly.

What enhancements do you need to consider to prepare for the page experience update?

With the introduction of these new metrics, you will likely need to consider making some improvements to your website so that it is ready for the page experience algorithm.

This will ensure your site does not drop down the rankings and can even lead to some gains if you are able to master the user experience of your website.

Invest in a usability audit - Speak with your website service provider and ask them to can carry out a usability audit for you. They will be able to get to the bottom of any usability issues that may result in Google penalising your website in search results. This gives you the opportunity to rectify errors and make improvements prior to the rollout of page experience.

Focus on every page - Have you noticed that the rollout is called page experience rather than website experience? Of course, delivering an excellent site experience is important, but it’s important that you go through your website on a page-by-page basis to ensure that none of your pages is letting the team down!

Use heatmaps to evaluate site design - Heatmaps can help you to get a better understanding of the areas of a web page that are being clicked on the most. This helps you to find out whether there are any areas of your site that are proving troublesome; i.e. users are clicking on a part of your site that isn’t clickable, indicating that your design is misleading. You can run other tests to determine the usability of your site as well.

Optimise site speed - The final step you should take to improve your website in light of the new algorithm is to optimise site speed. You need to ensure that all of the elements of your page load within recommended time frames.

There are a number of free tools you can do this with.

Google PageSpeed Insights, which provides results for both mobile and desktop users.

Experte Page Speed Test, which is an excellent tool that allows you to test multiple URL's at a time.

Some final words on the new page experience algorithm from Google

As you can see, the new page experience algorithm from Google is going to put even greater emphasis on the experience your website delivers to its users.

This may mean that you need to make some changes to your site.

If you’re feeling a bit concerned by the new update or overwhelmed at the changes that will need to be made, don’t panic; you have until May to make the necessary adjustments. If you need help, as always, feel free to give us a call.

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