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Google’s Page Experience Update Begins Rollout – How Will it Affect You?

21 June 2021
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Google’s Page Experience Update Begins Rollout – How Will it Affect You?

The Google Page Experience update will see a new range of user-experience based signals rolled into the search engine’s core algorithm during a gradual rollout.

Google says it continues to work diligently to deliver the “most helpful and enjoyable experiences” to users across the web. This was the reason behind its decision to introduce a new set of page experience signals that “measure aspects of how users perceive” web page interactions.

After announcing the changes a year ago, Google said they would go live in May but it recently pushed its arrival back to mid-June, though it noted that page experience won’t be fully implemented within its systems until late August.

If you have recently heard about the page experience update and are wondering what to do next, the short delay gives you enough time to make the necessary changes to your website to prepare for the full rollout.

What are the page experience signals?

When Google talks about page experience signals, it is referring to five specific factors that include the recently introduced Core Web Vitals. Each of these will be used as signals within the search algorithm and thus, will have an impact on visibility and a page’s search engine ranking.

Optimising for them is in your best interests if you want to drive organic traffic to your pages from this summer. Google says making changes will “help sites evolve towards expectations on mobile”. It will also “contribute to business success” as it will boost engagement and make it easier for visitors to browse and buy products and services.

Fortunately, Google has released a number of different tools to help you improve the page experience. The signals you need to take a closer look at in the coming weeks are:

  • Loading
  • Interactivity
  • Visual Stability
  • Mobile Friendliness
  • Safe Browsing
  • HTTPS
  • No intrusive interstitials

The first three signals make up the Core Web Vitals, a new set of requirements that can be measured. Google wants sites to meet a basic threshold here in order to deliver the experiences users expect and has included a system for rating each of them.

For example, loading times of less than 2.5 seconds are deemed “good”, anything between 2.5 and 4 seconds “needs improvement” while longer than 4 seconds is rated as “poor”. Similar measurements are used for interactivity and visual stability.

The four other signals are more self-explanatory. HTTPS is related to whether your site uses the secure version of HTTP and has an SSL certificate, mobile friendliness looks at your ability to deliver a quality mobile experience, safe browsing the presence of malware or deceptive content, and interstitials the use of annoying popup ads.

All of these will be scored and will contribute to your page experience. Google says it may introduce a visual indicator within search results to inform users about them.

What does the update mean for my website?

Google is prioritising excellent web experiences and will focus on serving these sites to users in search. If you don’t make changes to optimise for page experience you won’t be penalised but you will find it more difficult to rank at the top of search for your target keywords and important topics.

Google has stated that “a good page experience doesn’t override having great relevant content”. But if you can work with an agency to craft articles, blogs and videos that incorporate white hat SEO techniques from the ground up, you are more likely to deliver exceptional user experiences.

While content remains your primary focus then, the page experience will be used as a tie-breaker of sorts when there are a number of pages that have the same structure and tone. Google notes that in cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, page experience “becomes much more important for visibility in Search”.

How can I prepare my site for the page experience update?

The first thing you can do is use Google’s tools to analyse your page experience. In April, Google released a handy Page Experience report within Google Search Console that provides an overview of your performance, data about each specific signal including the Core Web Vitals, and a “deepdive” into problems and how to rectify them.

To prepare for the update, you obviously need to focus on the user experience and to go through each signal one by one to see whether there is anything you can do to improve them. For the Core Web Vitals, creating a fast, lightweight and stable site that is easy to navigate and intuitive will stand you in good stead.

Conducting a website audit could be beneficial here as you will get a clearer picture of why your page experience may be substandard, and the steps you need to take to ensure you will be hitting the benchmarks for each signal when the update arrives in the summer.

For mobile friendliness, head over to the Google Search Console again and run the Mobile Usability report to flag any potential issues. Google also recommends using AMP where possible, the open source initiative that it claims is “one of the easiest and cost effective ways” to deliver better experiences on smartphones and tablets.

Safe browsing is something that you can run through with IT. If you are using a WordPress site, try to implement a few best practices to reduce the threat of attacks from malicious third parties. The Google Search Console also has a Security Issues report which might be useful.

Using a HTTPS site and improving its performance is also important, as is cutting down on any problematic popups that might be dragging down the experience on mobile and other platforms.

While the page experience update is a big one for Google, it is important to put it into context. Google will still analyse hundreds of ranking signals when it generates SERPs so the five listed here will just be a fraction of the bigger picture. Webmasters are not expecting it to have a seismic impact on search but with Google’s rollout drawing ever closer, you should look to make amendments and changes where possible to get ready for its arrival.

If you require assistance with the update or simply want to improve your content marketing and SEO processes, contact us today and we will provide you with the help you need to succeed.

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