Google revealed an expected algorithm adjustment in May 2020, featuring new ranking signals that focus on the end user’s experience of the website. This is part of an attempt to prioritise websites that are secure, fast, and mobile-friendly.

Since Google’s introduction of the mobile-first index in 2016, web developers have prioritised mobile-friendly design for their websites. We’ve seen a similar thread across algorithm upgrades that continuously nudge Google SERPs toward a more helpful, useable user experience once you click a result. In order to proactively optimise for these developments, SEOs and web developers will need to coordinate their efforts with content authors and UX strategists.

What Existing Page Experience Signals Should Be Taken Into Account?

Mobile Compatibility

The majority of Google searches are conducted on mobile devices. Organic rankings will be harmed if sites are not mobile-friendly.

Google already crawls new pages using mobile-first indexing as the default. This means that Google favours the mobile version of the content when indexing and ranking it.

Mobile-friendliness is required to prepare for the upgrade. This may be evaluated using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test or the Mobile Usability dashboard in Google Search Console.

Consider How Mobile Searchers’ Search Intent Changes:

  • Is the information legible and scrollable?
  • Utilize consumer behaviour research tools, such as Google’s Micro-Moments, to guide mobile development and optimization.

How Do You Determine Your Mobile Friendliness?

  • Google Search Console
  • Mobile-Friendly Test Tool

Refer to Google’s Mobile Guide for additional information on mobile site best practises.

Intrusive Interstitials

Popups that obstruct a user’s ability to access desired content are known as intrusive interstitials. These have a detrimental impact on mobile device user experiences. In 2017, Google implemented an invasive interstitial penalty.

Pop-ups That Aren’t Good:

  • A pop-up that appears immediately after the user navigates to a webpage from the search results or while reading the content.
  • A standalone interstitial that the user must reject before accessing the main content.
  • A page having above-the-fold material, such as a separate interstitial, with the original text lined beneath.

Acceptable Pop-ups:

  • Interstitials for legal responsibilities (such as cookie use notifications or age verifications)
  • Login dialogues on websites, such as to access secret content
  • Banners that are readily dismissible and do not take up too much space on the webpage

Secure Browsing (As Of August 4, 2021 Google Is No Longer Using Safe Browsing As A Page Experience Ranking Signal)

In 2007, Google began the Safe Browsing initiative to provide more secure internet. Safe Browsing in Page Experience only impacts websites that have reported as misleading in the Chrome browser, which is a very tiny fraction of sites. Malware or malicious scripting threats/vulnerabilities for users to targeted by bad actors affected by Safe Browsing in Page Experience.

Google’s Safe Browsing in Page Experience analyses if your website is constructed in “the spirit of our Software Principles” if it provides software downloads or installations.

Page experience report in Search Console

This indicates that Google prefers sites with simple software installation processes that are based on the user’s clear choices. The software download or installation should provide the user with a clear value proposition and be simple to delete or disable.

When a visitor visits your website, they should not be concerned about harmful information. Google ensures that your website is free of compromised material, viruses, unwanted applications, and social engineering.

HTTPS

Google declared in 2014 that adopting HTTPS will be a minor ranking indicator. HTTPS is a secure communication protocol that involves the encrypted flow of data between browsers and servers. HTTPS protects websites and users from cyber-attacks.

Google prefers websites that have confirmed their website’s identity to browsers, notably Chrome, in another effort to provide secure websites to visitors. HTTPS is the name given to this security certificate. When a website is not secure, a warning appears in the URL field of the browser, informing the user that the website is “Not Secure or Dangerous.”

What Are the Most Important Web Vitals to Consider?

While the data featured in Google Search Console’s new Core Web Vitals Report aren’t new, they are weighted more significantly as ranking considerations. The following metrics are included in the Core Web Vitals Report:

  • FID (First Input Delay)
  • LCP(Largest Contentful Paint)
  • CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift)

These measures, according to Google, best identify a website’s loading speed, interaction speed, and visual stability. These indications are prioritised in order to give the greatest experiences to users once they exit the search engine results page.

LCP (Largest Contentful Paint):

Page speed has been a ranking factor since 2010, according to Search Engine Journal. Google uses LCP to find the biggest element that loads on a page and the time it takes for the element to load.

LCP times are most closely related to:

  • Images
  • Background pictures loaded through CSS
  • Video
  • Heading tags
  • Tables
  • Lists
  • Any other block element with text

LCP is a statistic for measuring user experience. Better LCP times are associated with people remaining on the page for a longer period of time.

  • Server and/or software response times are the most closely related to LCP times.
  • Resources and bandwidth for websites
  • Browser plug-ins and applications
  • JavaScript and CSS code for the website

FID (First Input Delay):

The First Input Delay (FID) metric evaluates how quickly a website reacts to a user’s input. It specifically analyses how quickly a page responds to user actions. For example, how long does it take for the website to process and send a request if a user clicks on a button that causes a pop-up on the page? Because debugging require paring down JavaScript and other forms of code, these issues frequently addressed by the site’s developer. When optimising for FID, it’s critical to do tests to figure out where the delays are coming from.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS):

The visual stability of a page measured Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). This measure informs Google about how many items on a website move, shift, or appear/disappear while the page loads, particularly when these elements act unexpectedly. When you’re on a website and try to scroll down to read more of an article, but the page keeps jumping back to the top of the screen every few seconds, this is an example of this. This might be difficult for developers to assess, but there are tools that can assist discover problematic parts of a website.

In addition to Bounce Rate, Pages per Session, and Session Duration, Google Analytics provides statistics on various parameters that indicate a good or terrible user experience. It’s a good idea to go over these at least once a month to get a sense of how users are reacting to your site. The bounce rate should improve as you continue to improve the Page Experience aspects.

sample user behavior metrics that might be impacted by page experience update

Tools For Measuring And Diagnosing Core Web Vitals:

Several Google tools are available to assist in measuring and diagnosing Core Web Vitals:

  • Search Console

Use the Page Experience, Core Web Vitals, and Mobile Usability areas of the Search Console to better understand what particular issues Google is seeing with your site as they pertain to page experience.

  • PageSpeed Insights

Analyses a web page’s content and then gives recommendations to make that page quicker.

  • Vitals Extension

This extension measures Core Web Vitals, offering fast feedback on parameters like as loading, interaction, and layout shift.

  • WebPageTest

It does a free website performance test from across the world using actual browsers at consumer connection speeds and provides thorough improvement advice.

  • Chrome UX Report

It is a public dataset including real-world user experience data from millions of websites. In contrast to lab data, Chrome UX Report data collected directly from opted-in users.

  • Chrome DevToo

It is a collection of web developer tools that incorporated right into the Google Chrome browser. Tools for instrumenting, inspecting, debugging, and profiling chromium, chrome, and other blink-based browsers are available.

  • Lighthouse

It is an open-source, automated tool for enhancing web page quality. You may use it on any web page, whether it is public or requires authentication.

When Will The Algorithm Be Changed?

Google stated that the new ranking modifications will implemented gradually beginning in mid-June 2021, although the full impact of the upgrade will not felt until the end of August 2021.

What Distinguishes This Algorithm Change From Others?

The notification is the most significant distinction between this algorithm upgrade and prior updates. Google seldom announces significant changes to their algorithm, but they believed this upgrade was significant enough to give businesses, SEOs, and developers enough time to prepare before the deployment.

Google has improved the features in Google Search Console. These new data-driven dashboards display sitewide basic web vitals performance metrics at the URL level. Other success measures can discovered by consulting the Page Experience report. This report combines the previous Core Web Vitals report with other success measures that impact Google’s page experience signals.

This upgrade advances SEO code and web practises, from moving to next-generation image formats to Google authorizing the usage of a new content negotiation web-bundling method known as Signed Exchange (SXG). Google previously utilized this format to boost performance with their AMP technology. They are promoting the usage of this privacy-preserving, pre-fetching technology with the Page Experience upgrade. This isn’t essential for the Page Experience upgrade, but Google recommends it. Google asserts a clear correlation between Core Web Vital increases and SXG deployment.

What Does This Update Mean For Your Website?

Google will now evaluate factors that not previously considered for your website in desktop search results.

If your website performs well on mobile, it’s likely that it will do well on desktop as well.

Because mobile-friendliness not a criterion in the Page Experience desktop update, your site gain a ranking increase in desktop search even if it not mobile-friendly (as long as other criteria are met).

The desktop signal is based on the URLs that desktop users see if your site has a separate desktop and mobile URLs.

A new report from Google Search Console evaluates Page Experience criteria on desktop versions of webpages.

You can use this report to get an idea of how the change affect your site after it fully implemented at the end of next month.

The desktop report may found just beneath the mobile report in Search Console’s Page Experience tab.

With the exception of the Mobile Usability section, it appears exactly like the mobile report.

Take a look at the screenshot below for an example:

Keep in mind that you should not draw any conclusions about the update’s impact until it fully implemented by the end of March.

It’s possible that changes in your desktop search rankings between now and the end of March. They aren’t due to the Page Experience update.

Timeline And Updates For The Google Page Experience

  • May 2020: Google unveils the Page Experience Update in May 2020.
  • November 2020: Google confirms Page Experience Update rollout in May 2021 in November 2020.
  • April 2021: Google reveals that the Page Experience Update, notably the ranking modification, would delayed until May 2021:

o   Gradual deployment that will begin in mid-June 2021 and

o   will not completed until the end of August

June 2021: Google announced that the Page Experience Update currently sent out gradually.

August 2021: Google reveals that Safe Browsing is no longer a Page Experience ranking factor in August 2021.·                    

November 2021: Google promises that the page experience report will be more accurate in the future, following an overcount of mobile Page Experience data from June 29th to November 1st.

A healthy dashboard after recovering from the update

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