Google is changing its algorithm — and now is the time to adjust your website so your traffic doesn’t tank.
Google strives to be the top search engine, and in order to remain on top, it must ensure user experience is enjoyable. Starting in mid-June, Google will gradually roll out a “page experience update,” which will be fully implemented by the end of August 2021.
Working to build off of the Chrome team’s web vitals, Google is implementing a search ranking change that incorporates new page experience metrics. Google will introduce a new signal that combines core web vitals, further explained below, with existing signals for page experience to better understand a user’s experience on a web page and to make top-performing content under these metrics the most easily accessible.
So, what does this mean for your website and the content you publish? There are a few key factors to hone in on to clean up your site and ensure your content continues to rank well on Google Search. Search signals for page experience are broken up into core web vitals, mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS, and intrusive interstitial guidelines.
Core Web Vitals
The core web vitals are made up of the following:
- Visual stability
Loading, or largest contentful paint (LCP), measures the speed at which the content on your page loads. Google rates pages on speed in categories of good, needs improvement, and poor. It is ideal for a page to load in less than 2.5 seconds. Just one second delay in page load time results in 11% fewer page views, 16% decreased customer satisfaction, and 7% loss in conversion. Users’ attention span is short, so the longer it takes, the greater the chance someone will choose another site to view over yours. Once you determine how quickly your page loads, you can work to better your website's speed by minimizing HTTP requests, combining files, reducing server response time, decreasing image size, and other factors that cause site load time to increase.
Interactivity, or First Input Delay (FID), measures the time it takes for a user to interact with your site. A site's interactivity is dependent on the responsiveness of opening menus, clicking buttons, entering contact information, and more. The importance of interactivity comes into play if your site requires a login.
Visual stability, or Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), tracks page elements, ensuring they don’t move around on a page as it loads. It is important to have a low CLS score. Work with your development team to manage image dimensions, font transitions, and other ads or widgets embedded in your page.
Today, it is extremely common for users to view your site via a mobile device. Mobile devices drove 61% of visits to U.S. websites in 2020, up from 57% in 2019. Desktops were responsible for 35.7% of all visits in 2020, and tablets drove the remaining 3.3% of visitors. Google understands the need for mobile responsiveness in order to ensure a positive user experience.
It is best to first test your site to see how mobile-friendly it currently is. There are many resources in which you can do this, including a tool built directly into Google. This test will rate if your site is mobile-friendly as well as give a rendered image of the URL you tested in mobile view.
Once you determine your website’s current mobile state, you can work with your development team to ensure all features are responsive and text, CTA buttons, images, and more can appropriately be viewed and used on a smaller screen.
Google works to ensure a safe browsing experience for its users. It tests all pages for malware, deceptive pages, harmful downloads, and uncommon downloads. Google recommends that all sites be registered on Search Console, even if no security issues are currently being experienced. This ensures any issues can be addressed as quickly as possible should they arise.
Hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS) is the secure version of HTTP, which is the primary protocol used to send data between a web browser and a website. HTTPS is encrypted in order to increase the security of data transfer. As an addition to safe browsing, Google searches pages to ensure data being entered into and coming out of a website is safe and secure. If your website requests sensitive data from its users, such as email, bank, and other personal information, it is vital to ensure your site is HTTPS migrated.
Intrusive Interstitial Guidelines
Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible. Although pop-up advertisements can be beneficial in marketing, be sure to observe best practices when using them. Google tracks pages to ensure main content is readily accessible, so pay caution to pop-up size, timing, and placement.
In addition, implement a delay to allow the reader the ability to access the information first and then implement the pop-up. Sites are ranked for hundreds of signals, so you can use pop-ups and still rank highly if your content is strong and relative, just be sure to implement them carefully.
Building a Better Website
As Google’s rollout is implemented, continue to practice good website maintenance. Ranking on Google is not only important to the success of your website but using these metrics as a guideline will also ensure your viewer has an enjoyable site experience and achieves the proper and intended outcome from your website.
Need help with preparing your website for Google’s page experience update? Contact the Elite team to review your site and help you better prepare today!