Google has recently launched a page experience update and, as the world’s largest search engine, its’ algorithm holds enormous sway in the world of SEO. Even the slightest changes in Google’s algorithm can have serious ramifications for search engine marketers and their client’s websites. And many marketing agencies and internal SEO departments base their entire operations on Google’s algorithm requirements.
Naturally, Google’s most recent algorithm updates caused waves in the SEO community this summer. While algorithm updates are not unusual (Google often makes several small updates a year), this summer’s algorithm changes are some of the most substantial since Google released their “mobile-first” update in 2019. Essentially, beginning this summer, Google will be increasing the amount of priority given to a page’s “page experience” when determining how high the page will rank.
Google’s page experience is an umbrella term that covers aspects of a page’s user experience (UX) such as loading speed, visual stability, site security, and accessibility. Each of these categories will be covered in-depth later in this piece. For now, it’s worth mentioning why these changes are noteworthy.
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Google’s Page Experince Update is a Pivot Towards User Experience
As the world’s largest search engine, Google not only shapes how users interact with the internet but also has enormous sway over how websites are built and designed. Every site today is built with the realization that they need to be compliant with Google’s preferred infrastructure requirements if they want to rank on search engine result pages.
Google realizes this, and sometimes uses its algorithm updates to encourage websites to improve aspects of their site and underlying infrastructure. In the case of page experience, Google has realized that for modern users, it’s not always about the content of a page, it’s also about the overall user experience.
Modern users today realize that due to the ubiquity of the internet, that there is rarely content that lives in a single location. Even the most unique information can be found in multiple places. Because of this, searchers now often filter by different measures such as perceived safety and trust, page usability, and device friendliness.
Think about your internet habits. You likely spend much of your time online on your smartphone. You also probably place a premium on clicking links that you can trust and have little patience for pages with low loading speeds. Google understands this and is pushing hard for websites today to prioritize the user’s page experience.
What Makes Up a Page’s Experience?
What exactly makes up a page’s experience? While every page’s experience is made up of many different factors, page experience as measured by Google is an umbrella term for loading speed, visual stability, mobile-friendliness, and site security.
Page Loading Speed
One of the most important measures of a page’s user experience, loading speed is the time it takes for a page to load to all its most critical elements. Google uses two important metrics, largest contentful paint (LCP) and first input delay (FID) to measure a page’s loading speed. LCP refers to the time it takes for a page’s main content to be loaded, and FID records the time it takes before a page is considered fully interactive. The recommended time for both is 2.5 seconds for LCP and 100 ms for FID.
Visual stability refers to how consistent a site’s visual layout is throughout a page. For example, a page with poor visual stability might have elements move or change in a way that confuses the user. This is especially relevant for mobile viewing as fingers are often less precise in their clicks than desktop cursors. Visual stability is measured by the cumulative layout shift (CLS) of a page. Google recommends that a site’s visual stability contain a distance fraction and impact fraction of less than 0.1.
One of the most important factors in SEO since Google’s push towards a “mobile-first” ranking algorithm, mobile-friendliness covers aspects of your site such as design responsiveness, mobile usability, and mobile loading speed. One of the easiest ways to measure your site’s mobile-friendliness is through Google’s mobile-friendliness test.
Perceived trust and security have emerged as major ranking issues for searchers. It’s been found that searchers often will not click on links that are perceived to be unsafe, even when such links are ranked highly. Users place a high premium on the trust and perceived safety of search results. Because of this Google, now heavily penalizes sites that are not HTTPS compliant, and prioritize sites with secure connections.
How Can I Make Sure My Website Has a Strong Page Experience?
Fortunately, Google has made it very easy to check your site’s page experience. In every Google Search Console dashboard, there is a separate page experience tab that shows the number of URLs on your domain with an excellent page experience. Additionally, Google has created separate in-browser application tests for each of the page experience criteria.
Whether you’re trying to test your page’s loading speed or general visual stability, there’s a way to see how your site measures up. However, when it comes to implementing the necessary changes to ensure your site is performing, you might need the support of experienced help.
At Affirma, our team of SEO consultants are experienced and knowledgeable on the website updates necessary to maintain your rankings and improve your overall page experience. We take a holistic approach to your site, ensuring that each of your pages provides an excellent experience to your users. We invite you to contact us to learn more about Google’s recent algorithm updates can impact your site’s rankings and performance.