Earlier this year, we wrote about how the upcoming Google Page Experience update might impact your ranking – and what factors to look out for when preparing for it. That update was slated for this month but has recently been pushed back to a gradual rollout beginning in mid-June this year, concluding with a total implementation by the end of August.
Google’s page experience update might amount to making a small overall impact on your ranking, to being incredibly important. The update revolves around a few core page experience signals, and will include a change to the way pages are selected for Google’s Top Stories carousel, expanding the usage of non-AMP content in Google News, as well as updates to the Google News app.
What is the Page Experience Update?
At its heart, the page experience update provides developers with greater tools to assess and improve their page experience through the new Page Experience report.
This new tool will combine the existing Core Web Vitals report and add in additional trackable UX signals, including mobile friendliness and safe browsing status.
Google is also announcing the general availability of signed exchanges for all web pages, not just ones build with the AMP framework. Signed exchanges (SXG) are meant to introduce a safer way of distributing portable content while maintaining the content’s integrity based on its original source.
How Will the Page Experience Update Benefit SEO?
If you’ve been keeping up to date with your SEO, then your website should already be optimized for user and page experience. These metrics have been known to play a role in rankings for quite some time.
The bigger change here is the introduction of a new toolkit to help track and visualize the impact of these metrics and give you greater insight over how Google rates your page experience based on their own data.
This can give you a much better idea of where to redouble your efforts when optimizing pages.
That being said, we still don’t know what kind of an impact this update is going to have on rankings, and it’s best to reserve any judgment for after it’s been released.
A Recap of the Page Experience Update
From what we know of the page experience update so far, the bulk of the update will concern itself with new tools to track the three core web vitals outlined by Google, as well as four additional vital signals.
Core Web Vitals
Of the signals emphasized in the update, the Core Web Vitals are the most important trio. These are three metrics called the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), and the First Input Delay (FID). To keep things brief:
- Largest Contentful Paint: This is best explained as a new metric designed to track how fast the majority of a website’s visual content loads. In other words, it’s a metric to see how long it takes for your website to load its main content and be useful to the user.The exact element being tracked is the render time of the largest image or text block within the user’s viewport on first load. To simplify it, a good LCP score is within or under 2.5 seconds.
- Cumulative Layout Shift: This is a metric for how often shifts in layout occur – ones that can disrupt the user experience and annoy a user.Picture a block of text suddenly shifting in the middle of scrolling down, causing you to lose the sentence you were reading – or picture trying to click a link, only for the link to shift, causing you to instead click something else. These layout shifts are often caused by elements loading asynchronously, as well as pop up elements.What might be a minor issue most of the time can become a severe problem, especially in e-commerce. CLS will track how often these shifts occur throughout the page’s lifespan.
- First Input Delay: This is a metric for measuring site interactivity, particularly how fast page elements respond to user input. This is especially important for login screens, for example. A good score requires an FID of 100 milliseconds or less.
The other metrics critical to Google’s user page experience update include:
- Mobile friendliness: How well does your website run across multiple different devices? Mobile friendliness is judged by whether a page loads and interacts as well on phones and tablets as it does through a desktop.
- Ad experience (Interstitial Ads): Google is clamping down hard on interstitial ads, especially ones deemed intrusive.
- User safety: Preventing the spread of malware, harmful downloads, and the like.
It should be mentioned that Google emphasized seeking to “rank pages with the best overall information, even if the page experience is subpar”. Page experience signals will join hundreds of other signals currently being tracked for ranking. That being said, it doesn’t hurt to squeeze an advantage wherever it’s available.
Are You Prepared for the Update?
The last time we wrote about Google’s upcoming update was January, and we’ve since urged content creators and companies to revisit their user experience, and make sure everything is up to spec. Consider this a second chance to do your homework and prepare for the update before it blindsides you.
The easiest way to give your website a once-over is to have Google do it for you, through the existing Core Vitals report through Google’s Search Console toolkit.
While Google has emphasized multiple times that the rollout is going to be gradual, we don’t know how heavily it’s going to affect search engine results and current rankings.
Many experts still speculate that it’s a largely minor change, with the biggest announcement herein being the ability to check your page’s user experience signals via a visual indicator. This is because most of the previously mentioned user experience metrics – from page loading speeds to mobile friendliness, HTTPS, and safe browsing – already play an important role in how websites rank on Google.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to take advantage of this delay to doublecheck your metrics and make improvements.