Google processes over 3.5 billion searches daily and out of those billions of searches, very few people ever look at the results on the second page. You probably know this from your own experience, but very few people are interested in Google search results unless they’re on the first page.
Ranking well on Google can make or break an online business. And to have a great ranking, you need to have great page SEO. In May 2021, Google made some updates and created new criteria for SEO. The main one was the introduction of the Page Experience signal.
So, what is Google Page Experience Update and how can you prepare for it? Keep reading to find out.
What is the Page Experience Update?
This new update takes into consideration multiple signals to provide every Google user with the optimal experience. The search engine accesses all of those signals and then gives an overall page experience score to every website.
To put it in simple terms, the Page Experience signal will determine how good a website user experience is, and it’s a big factor Google considers when ranking your website. When calculating the signal, Google uses certain sub-signals.
As for the sub-signals that decide the overall signal Google gives to your website, there are some old ones that you’re probably already familiar with, and some new ones Google introduced.
If you’ve ever done search engine optimization, you’re already familiar with these components of website optimization. They’re as important now as they were when they were introduced:
- Mobile-friendliness. As more than 54% of all global online traffic comes from mobile, it’s no surprise that a part of SEO is mobile optimization.
- HTTPS. A page needs to be served over HTTPS, which is a secure alternative to HTTP as it’s an encrypted network protocol.
- Safe browsing. A page mustn’t contain any deceptive or malicious content, such as social engineering and malware.
- No intrusive interstitials. If you have intrusive interstitials which block the entire page or most of it, it will lead to a poor user experience.
The new components introduced by the Google Page Experience update are known as Core Web Vitals. They are measurable signals that are very user-centric, and they provide a standard target threshold.
Here are the new Core Web Vitals you should be aware of:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). LCP measures the loading performance of a web page’s largest piece of content, no matter if it’s an image, text block, a video, or anything else. Your LCP should be no more than 2.5 seconds.
- First Input Delay (FID). This metric measures how long it takes for the browser to respond to the user’s interactions such as clicking on a button or selecting an option from a drop-down menu. Your FID core should be 100 milliseconds or less.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). With CLS, Google measures visual stability which takes unexpected layout shifts into account. It’s vital to minimize these shifts and have a CLS score of less than 0.1.
What does the update include?
The biggest addition to this update includes the above mentioned Core Web Vitals. But there is much more this update brought with it, such as:
- Change in the Top Stories carousel. This feature that appears in Google Search was updated to include all news content that meets the Google News policies. It’s no longer required to use the AMP format and any news page will be able to appear in the carousel regardless of its page experience status.
- Updates to the Google News app. Similar updates were made to this app in the past and Google chose to expand the usage of non-AMP content. This was done to improve the core experience on the Google News app and the Google News website.
- Removal of the AMP page icon. Before the update, Google indicated AMP content with the AMP badge icon, but that was removed with this update. However, they are already working on other ways to identify different types of content and offer a great page experience for all of its users.
This is the basic information you need to know, but you can also check out the Core Web Vitals & Page Experience FAQs that Google published.
Page Experience report
To allow your team to gain actionable insights, Google created the Page Experience report which combines the existing Core Web Vitals report with all the new page experience signal components. This report gives you valuable metrics allowing you to quickly evaluate your website’s performance.
Not only will you be able to assess how good the performance of your website is, but you can also gain insights into what you can do to make the website experience even better for users.
Why is the Google Page Experience Update important?
Google has one core mission, and that is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. Since user search experience plays a very critical role in accomplishing that mission, this update is very important for the online world.
Google does everything in its power to provide its users with all of the information they’re looking for in a way that’s acceptable and expected at this point. So, without such an update, their core mission would lose all meaning. At the end of the day, this update is here to ensure the experience is as good and engaging as possible.
How to prepare for the Page Experience Update?
If your website already applied the top SEO strategies before the new update, your main focus should be the Core Web Vitals. They are an essential part of providing an excellent user experience and there are ways you can improve each of these vitals.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
As we already explained, LCP measures the loading time of the largest content element on a page. The most accurate way to measure loading performance is to use Google’s current recommended metric, which is the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP).
There are multiple ways you can improve the loading time and reached the preferred LCP of 2.5 seconds:
- Reduce the size of all the elements you believe are potential LCPs.
- Use the correct tag attributes to load certain elements such as sources and src sets.
- Convert any simple graphics and icons you have into vector SVGs.
- Compress images and encode elements properly.
- Prominently display images of the correct size.
- Only load the necessary elements and remove any assets you don’t need.
- Load your LCP in the firewall, which is much faster.
First Input Delay (FID)
Users want the website to respond to the actions they perform as fast as possible, which is why it’s important to improve your FID. To reach the FID of 100 milliseconds or less, you can do the following:
- Use native form elements and make your code work smarter, not harder.
- Allow the input from your users to be read as quickly as possible.
- Speed up computational processing.
- Remember that the code shouldn’t be a priority, but your users should. So, make sure to write a code that puts users first.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
How many times has it happened when you’re reading something online or just browsing a website that the layout just shifts unexpectedly and it doesn’t feel like it’s even the same website anymore?
The CLS metric is there to measure how many elements shift during loading and ruin the user experience.
You can get your CLS to be less than 0.1 and improve your website’s overall responsiveness if you do the following things:
- Load images into a structure that already exists.
- If any element requires a layout shift, make sure the shift is as efficient and as fast as possible.
Fixing page experience problems
The new update has made a lot of website owners fix page experience problems they weren’t even aware of. And how you will fix them depends on the platform you used to build your website.
Let’s take a look at the three most popular platforms:
- WordPress. This platform offers a plethora of plugins and services that can optimize your website. WP Rocket will take care of font and pixel optimization, ShortPixel will help you compress your images, and PerfMatters will allow you to control JS and CSS on every page. Or you could use NitroPack that has features such as Image optimization, SCSS optimization, CDN, and much more.
- Neto / Maropost Commerce Cloud. If you chose Maropost/Neto to build your website, there aren’t any apps currently addressing ‘experience’ at this level, you’re best working with a partner who knows the platform or consider our speed optimisation service where we also address Core Web Vitals.
- Shopify. Shopify is a favourite among online store owners. But if you use Shopify, it’s going to be hard for you to fix page experience problems. There are only two Shopify apps you can try to improve performance, and those are Page Speed Optimizer Pro and Booster.
Many factors influence a website’s SEO ranking, and over the years there have been countless tips and tricks on how you can improve your SEO. But this new Page Experience Update from Google made the game much harder for websites, as they need to think about user experience as well.
If you care about your business, you probably already provide the best possible experience you can. But now the game rules have changed. Before, the websites with the best content would win. And now, the ones that combine good content and great user experience will come out on top.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should put your SEO efforts aside. Search engine optimization still is, and probably always will be, one of the main things that get your website noticed. But now you need to realize the importance of LCP, FID, and CLS as well.
Now you know all of the steps you need to take for your website to provide the best possible user experience. But if all of this sounds too complicated, the best thing to do is look for an expert. Contact us and we’ll be glad to help you with the Google Page Experience Update.