In May 2020, Google announced that experience-relevant signals on pages or Page Experience would be included in the Google Search ranking. These signals measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page and are of particular interest because they represent Google’s commitment to offer users a ranking service based on the most useful and enjoyable experiences on the web.
It is recent news that from mid-June 2021 Google will start using the Page Experience as part of its ranking systems, even if it will not be fully integrated before the end of August. The implementation of the new guidelines will therefore be gradual. So in general, you shouldn’t expect drastic changes on your sites. New Page Experience Signals combine Core Web Signals with existing data, including mobile optimization, secure browsing , HTTPS security , and invasive interstitial ad guidelines.
As Google states: “… In updating the page experience, several indicators related to the page experience will be considered, including the three essential Web Signals metrics: LCP , FID and CLS , in addition to Chrome’s recent fix to the metric CLS. Additionally, the Top News carousel feature on Google Search will be updated to include all news content as long as it complies with Google News policies. This means that the use of the AMP format is no longer mandatory and that any page, regardless of the Essential Web Signals score or experience status on the pages, will be eligible to be shown in the Top News carousel. ” In practice, Google will begin to evaluate the Core Web Vitals as a ranking factor. In addition, a “visual indicator that highlights the pages that offer an excellent Page Experience “and all sites will be able to appear in the Top Stories feature from mobile, because the prerequisite for using AMP falls away.
Why has UX become so important?
Marketing managers know very well that the user experience (also called UX) on the site is essential to have the desired results, both financial and branding. It is also well known that Google’s goal is to prioritize the best possible browsing experience in organic search results. Page loading speed, mobile optimization, https protocol and non-invasive use of advertising are elements that Google has been working on for some time.
To these are added the other 3 just mentioned, the core web vitals.
The Core Web Vitals for 2021
The 3 key factors will be the following: loading, interactivity and visual stability.
- Loading is relative to the perceived loading speed, referring to the most likely loading time of the main content.
- Interactivity is the time between the moment a user first interacts with a page, such as a click or tap, to the moment the browser begins processing that interaction.
- Visual stability has to do with preventing annoying and unexpected movements of the page content
To go into more detail, these are the 3 Core Web Vitals chosen by Google:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), which measures the load time performance of a page’s main content, with an ideal value of 2.5 seconds or less. It’s a user-centric metric, and measures perceived loading speed by referencing the main content page in terms of pixels. A quick LCP reassures the visitor, and becomes synonymous with a quickly usable page.
- First Input Delay (FID), which measures the interactivity of a page, with efficient performance if it occurs in less than 100 milliseconds. In practice, it measures the time that elapses between the first time a user interacts with a page (click on a button or click on a link ..) and the instant in which the browser is able to respond to this interaction. For good UX users should be able to interact within 100ms.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), which measures visual stability and the amount of unexpected displacement of the layout. This variable has a particular impact on UX. How many of us have certainly happened to be bothered by something that suddenly changes on the page, even though no action has been taken on it. Without warning, the text moves, or an image, and when you consider clicking on a link you realize that the area has moved to make room for an advertisement, and you end up clicking on something else. That type of behavior is monitored by the CLS, which measures the sum total of sudden displacements of the layout elements and scores them. To provide a good experience, pages must maintain a CLS of less than 0.1.
The technical factors of the Page Experience
To monitor these elements, you can use the new report in Search Console, which offers information on essential web signals but also on the other technical factors that Google will evaluate in the Page Experience, namely:
- Security Issues : Any security issues for a site disqualify all URLs on the site from a “Good” status
- Using HTTPS : A page must be offered over HTTPS to be eligible for the page’s good experience status.
- Usability on mobile devices : In order for a URL to be eligible for the “Good” status, it must not contain usability errors on mobile devices.
- Advertising Experience : A site must not use advertising techniques that distract, interrupt or otherwise do not promote a good user experience. If a site is marked as having a bad advertising experience, all pages on the site are considered to have a bad page experience.
The purpose of this update is to make sure that sites that rank at the top of the rankings don’t create experiences that users don’t like. In practice, with this update, intuitive sites will rank higher than sites that are not easy to use. And this shift is the start of a big shift in SEO.
What Google is doing is adapting its algorithm to more closely align with the mission of showing the sites that users love the most first. Already now the growth of a site’s traffic is linked to the growth of its brand. However, now this metric will also be accompanied by another metric: that of user experience.
So the invitation is to take Google’s notice as an opportunity to resolve usability issues your site may have. Our team is available to audit your site and considerations about it.
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