Google is back with another big algorithm update and it’s set to shake up the search results in 2021. It’s something that all SEOs, digital marketers, and business’ need to be aware of. I’m going to explain the changes that are coming, why they are happening, and why now is the time to act.  

What Is The Google Page Experience Update?

Simply, the Google page experience update is a group of Core Web Vital metrics which allow Google to measure not only the speed your website loads in, but also the way in which it loads to provide users with the quickest possible loading time. These include:

Google ranking factors for the page experience update.

Image: Google

What Are Core Web Vitals?

These are essentially the newest ranking factors being pulled into the page experience update. Over time, Google has improved its auditing tools for websites and they now include:

  • Largest Contentful Paint – This measures the loading time. 
  • First Input Delay – This measures the time to interactivity. 
  • Cumulative Layout Shift – This measures visual stability as the page loads. 
Google's Core Web Vitals

Image: Google

Collectively, Google is looking for a webpage which loads quickly, becomes interactive quickly, and also doesn’t jump around as elements load. We’ve all had a website which you’ve clicked on just as it continued loading and things have moved and you’ve clicked the wrong thing. 

It’s exactly as the update name suggests, it’s about a user’s experience on a webpage, not only once the page has loaded, but the experience for them as it does. Google has put together a good resource on Core Web Vitals, including on how to check them manually. 

Other Ranking Factors For Page Experience

The other ranking factors which sit alongside the Core Web Vitals, are ones you will have no doubt heard of, and worked to implement on your website in the past. If you haven’t, then you’ve got a fair amount of catching up to do so don’t delay it any longer. Here is what the other ranking factors are looking at. 

  • Mobile-Friendly – This ensures the website is usable on mobile devices. In this check, Google covers many more elements which you can out more about on the dedicated mobile-friendly test site.
  • Safe Browsing – This is looking at whether your website is serving any ‘malicious code’ or ‘deceptive content’. You can learn more and test your website using the security issues report.
  • HTTPS – This is checking to see whether your website is ‘secure’ and being served over an HTTPS connection. You can check whether your website is secure by working through the checks that Google suggests
  • No Intrusive Interstitials – This is checking to make sure no elements of the website are making the content difficult to access for a user (pop-ups etc). You can learn more about what Google classes as intrusive here.

When Is The Page Experience Update Rolling Out?

Originally, Google had simply said that the update would roll out in 2021, but hadn’t provided any more detail than that. However, in response to the world reacting to COVID-19, they have provided some clarification and said: “The ranking changes described in this post will not happen before next year, and we will provide at least six months notice before they’re rolled out.” So a little more clarity on at least getting notice prior to the update, much like we had when mobile-friendly was rolling out. 

What Should I Do To Prepare For The Update?

I wouldn’t mark this down as urgent, but it’s better to be prepared and ahead of the curve (and ahead of your competitors) than scrambling next year as the months have crept by and you’re running out of time. Google has provided the tools you need to understand where you need to improve, and is also feeding that data on a page-level into your Search Console account. 

Alongside this update, we’re also seeing Google move away from AMP only pages in ‘Top Stories’ and the Page Experience Update will allow them to integrate websites which hit the benchmarks. Certainly frustrating for those who put a lot of time and resource into AMP, but this is the nature of the Search Engine. 

Need some help? Our team of SEOs and Web Developers are clued up on everything related to the Page Experience Update and the Core Web Vital changes websites need to make. Give us a call on 0161 327 2635 and let’s get your website ready for 2021.