In May 2020, Google announced that page experience would be introduced as a search engine ranking factor. One year later and these changes are due to be implemented in the form of the May 2021 Google algorithm update.

Google Search Console

Google have already added a Page Experience tab to the Google Search Console and we expect the contents of this tab to grow over the coming months.

Currently, the tab shows the following page experience signals:

  • Core Web Vitals
  • Mobile Usability
  • Security Issues
  • HTTPS
  • Ad Experience
  • A chart showing the percentage of mobile urls that have a good status in core web vitals and no mobile usability issues
Google page experience

What is Page Experience?

Google have created a guide for developers detailing page experience criteria. These guidelines focus on the experience provided to mobile users including things like page loading speed, mobile friendliness, whether the site uses an SSL certificate, the presence of intrusive ads, and whether content remains static during the page load.

These usability factors are part of what Google calls Core Web Vitals.

What is Core Web Vitals?

Core Web Vitals are real-world, user-centred metrics, that score elements of the web page as it loads. The test includes load time, interactivity, and stability of content.

These are measured as:

  • Largest Contentful Paint – LCP: A measurement of perceived load speed, when the main content is likely to have loaded – for a good user experience this score should be 2.5 seconds or less.
  • First Input Delay – FID: A measurement of when the user first interacts with the page e.g. the first click, to when the browser starts processing the interaction – for good user experience this score should be 100 milliseconds or less).
  • Cumulative Layout Shift – CLS: A measurement of visual stability – for good user experience this score should be less than 0.1.
Google core web vitals

Page loading speed is vital for keeping visitors on your website. According to research by Google, as the page load time increases, the bouncerate goes up significantly. A 1-3 second mobile page load has a probable bouncerate of 32%, this increases to 123% for a 10 second page load!

Core Web Vitals have already been incorporated into various Google tools including PageSpeed Insights, Chrome UX Report, Search Console, Chrome Dev Tools, Lighthouse, and the Web Vitals Extension.

Additional Page Experience factors & how to improve them

  • Mobile Usability: Mobile-friendliness has been one of the most important aspects of web development since Google switched over to mobile first indexing back in 2018. For a website to be mobile friendly, it must be easily usable on mobile devices. Common issues that affect mobile usability include the content being wider than the screen, text being too small to read, clickable elements being too close together, and incompatible plugins such as flash. To check whether your website is mobile-friendly, visit Mobile-Friendly Test.
  • Security Issues: Ensuring your website doesn’t contain any malicious or deceptive content helps to keep your visitors safe. The Google Search Console includes a Security & Manual Actions section which highlights any issues.
  • HTTPS: Keeping your website secure with an SSL certificate prevents attacks from hackers that can exploit parts of a website to gain access to a users personal details. Using the correct security certificate and making sure it is correctly configured makes it virtually impossible for third-parties to access data. Google Search Console now displays whether your website provides sufficient HTTPS coverage, however, it doesn’t currently display details of the affected urls.
  • Ad Experience: When assessing your website for user experience, Google considers whether ads on the site are distracting, interrupting, or otherwise not conducive to a good user experience. This evaluation applies sitewide, so if one page provides a bad ad experience, all pages are classed as providing a bad experience. When adding ads and pop ups to the site, you should consider whether these elements could be harmful to the overall user-experience, especially on a mobile device.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This was mentioned as part of the Core Web Vitals but it is worth further explanation. Ensuring that elements on the page remain static whilst the page loads improves user experience by removing accidental clicks. 

Content is still king..

In addition to the factors mentioned above, Google’s Rudy Galfi stated that content will still be the most important ranking factor, and that it will be possible for sites with great content to rank well, even with poor page experience scores.

While all of the components of page experience are important, we will prioritize pages with the best information overall, even if some aspects of page experience are subpar. A good page experience doesn't override having great, relevant content. However, in cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search.

https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2020/05/evaluating-page-experience

Getting your website ready for the May 2021 Algorithm update

If you’re looking for an SEO company that can help you prepare for the upcoming Google algorithm update, contact 123 Ranking today on 0333 320 8099. Our team of SEO experts, copywriters, and developers can get your website ready for the changes and build search engine rankings that endure algorithm updates.