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Google’s Page Experience Update Coming June 2021

  • CATEGORY: SEO

Have you ever visited a site that has slow load times or content that’s constantly shifting as the page loads? Or have you ever experienced a website that isn’t mobile-friendly while you’re browsing on your phone? Not only is it a frustrating experience, it likely causes you to move on quickly from that site to find a site that’s faster, mobile-friendly, and helpful from the get-go.

Google understands that users prefer to get their information from a website that provides an excellent user experience (UX) — which is why Google is rolling out the Page Experience Update beginning mid-June. This update will introduce new page experience ranking signals called Core Web Vitals to the algorithm, ultimately rewarding brands who provide quality UX to users.

A little history on Google’s Page Experience Update

Prior to the upcoming search ranking change, web page experience was not an outright ranking factor. Elements that contributed to an excellent website experience — page speed and mobile-friendliness, for example — have certainly been ranking signals for years, but Google needed a quantitative way of calculating a helpful, enjoyable page experience.

Really want to nerd out? Check out all of Google’s Algorithm Changes since 2003, courtesy of Search Engine Journal.

So, in May 2020, the team at Google set up a system of metrics called Core Web Vitals to measure speed, responsiveness, and visual stability. Months after launching Core Web Vitals, Google announced that they were rolling out page experience search signals that included Core Web Vitals and traditional UX ranking signals (mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS, and the absence of intrusive interstitials). All of these search signals make up Page Experience, which will contribute to ranking beginning in Mid-June. The rollout of the Page Experience Update is expected to be fully live by August.

What exactly are Core Web Vitals?

Core Web Vitals are metrics that are part of Google’s page experience score that help quantify a page’s user experience. While the metrics will evolve over time, the current set focuses on three core aspects of the user experience:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): measures loading performance
  • First Input Delay (FID): measures interactivity
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): measures visual stability

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

Source: web.dev

LCP measures how long it takes for content “above the fold” of your screen to load. To provide a good user experience, sites should strive to have LCP occur within the first 2.5 seconds of a user visiting a page. Beyond 2.5 seconds may cause you to have a “Needs Improvement” or “Poor” LCP score.

First Input Delay (FID)

Source: web.dev

FID measures the time it takes for a user to interact with a webpage. Keep in mind that the page does not have to be full interactive; it tracks concrete interactions, like clicks (not scrolling or zooming), as soon as the user lands on the page. For instance, someone may click the navigation menu before the rest of the site renders. Sites should aim for an FID of less than 100 milliseconds to fall into the “Good” category.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

Source: web.dev

CLS evaluates how long it takes a page’s elements to fall into place. As a page downloads, unstable elements sometimes shift around, causing a poor user experience. Unstable page elements typically include ads, web-based fonts, images or iframes without dimensions, and more. Google measures the “impact fraction” of how much space an unstable element takes up on a page. For example, if an unstable element takes up 25% of your screen and it shifts another 25%, simply add those two percentages to get a 50% Impact Fraction, which is shared as a score of 0.5. To provide a good user experience, sites should aim for a score of less than 0.1.

How can brands check on their Core Web Vitals?

Curious to see how your brand’s Core Web Vitals are performing? You can evaluate Core Web Vital performance in Google Search Console a couple of different ways:

  • Core Web Vitals Report: This type of report replaced the Speed report and analyzes the three metrics that make up Core Web Vitals: LCP, FID, and CLS.
  • Page Experience Report: Not only do you get the Core Web Vitals report within this report, you can evaluate mobile usability, intrusive interstitials, security issues, HTTPS usage, and ad experience. The report is evaluated per-URL and is limited to mobile URLs at this time.

How does the Page Experience Update Affect GetLocal Pages by GPO?

The GetLocal Pages platform is built and maintained with Google best practices in mind, including page experience. The pages are built light to ensure fast load times, keeping LCP and FID times low. Plus, the design framework ensures we’re utilizing stable page elements to prevent CLS from occurring.

While Google updates tend to make digital marketers break out in a slight sweat, remember that page experience isn’t the end-all, be-all. Google takes many other signals — like high-quality content! — into consideration when ranking search results. Making sure your site is optimized for search takes meticulous daily maintenance. The brands who embrace search optimization as a marathon, not a sprint, fair the best in the end!

Have questions about the Page Experience Update or your search optimization strategy? Reach out and let us know! Our team is ready to help.

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