The search engine giants Google release on average 500 to 600 changes to its search algorithm a year, with some being twice a day. Whilst most of these changes don’t significantly change the digital marketing landscape, some updates are worth noting.
Google announced in May of 2021 a new ranking algorithm, designed to judge web pages based on how users perceive the experience of website, will be rolled out to the public. Essentially this means that if Google believes a website to have a poor user experience (UX) for visitors, it will not rank the site as highly in the search engine result pages. This update is called the Google page experience update.
The update was rolled out in June 2021 for mobile centered users. Mobile friendliness has been an SEO ranking factor since 2015, and mobile-first indexing has been the default since 2018, and now mobile-friendliness will be a significant indicator in the page experience update. The page experience update was originally purposed for mobile, until it was recently announced that the same update will be applied to desktop in February 2022 – giving a whole new spin to digital marketing in 2022.
What Is The Page Experience Update?
Google will always strive to deliver the most helpful and factual content to a user, thus the constant updates are needed. This page experience update is trying to understand how a user will perceive the experience of a specific web page so it can serve as an overall user friendly web page.
The update makes considerations such as:
- Whether a page loads quickly
- If the page is mobile friendly (applicable for mobile page experience update)
- If the page runs on HTTPS
- Whether the page has intrusive ads
Google have already stated a detailed breakdown of the page experience criteria, but in summary the update is made of several existing search engine ranking factors (stated above) plus refinements called Core Web Vitals.
Core Web Vitals
Core Web Vitals include real-world, user centered metrics that give scores on aspects of a web page such as loading time, interactivity & stability of content as it loads. These metrics can be defined below:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
Measures loading performance. To provide a good UX, LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page initially starts to load.
First Input Display
Measures Interactivity. To provide a good UX, pages should have a FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
Culmative Layout Shift (CLS)
Measures visual stability. To provide a good UX, pages should maintain a CLS of less than 0.1.
When you put all of these parts together, you get this page experience. Page experience is not a ranking score, according to Google, but each aspect has its own weights and rankings in the broader Google ranking algorithm.
This page experience update will make it even more difficult for sites with a bad user experience to rank well and receive traffic from the search results that matter the most to their businesses. Google will put a badge directly in search results to sites that provide a positive user experience, so it will be interesting to see how users react and whether they will be more likely to ignore or avoid sites that do not have this approval.
The Effect on SEO
From an SEO standpoint, optimising your website for strong Core Web Vitals scores is a good idea because they will become a ranking factor with the page experience update as discussed. Furthermore, across all marketing channels, a positive user experience improves bounce rates, conversion rates, and, ultimately, income. Users often select whether or not to stay on your website within the first 10-15 seconds of landing, and if your site’s performance isn’t up to standard, users are more likely to leave.
Page Experience In 2022
At Search4Local, we don’t anticipate this page experience update will be a significant one, with hundreds of sites seeing major changes in their rankings and revenues. Those who are working to improve their users page experience have nothing to fear with this update.
For more information on how page experience and digital marketing might be affected in 2022, contact us.