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Getting ready for Google’s Page Experience update in 2021

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Google has to retain its users by providing the best service. That’s why it has hundreds of ranking factors to decide the best results for a query of its users. A business has no other choice but to partner with Google to reach its 1.7 billion users.

Website owners have to adhere to all these factors to get and maintain a place in search engine result pages. 

All Google ranking factors are based on three things

  • Backlinks
  • Content
  • User experience

Backlinks are the most important of all ranking signals and work as a vote to the value of a page or website.

Content is the thing users come for, so it is a prerequisite and a powerful ranking factor.

The often-underestimated—though important—part of ranking signals is the user experience. People would stop using Google if it only showed results that are slow and have a poor interface. That’s why it has a search algorithm called Google Page Experience that scrutinizes all relevant indexed pages to decide their rankings. 

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How Google Page Experience works

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Google Search is a powerful program. It records, stores, and analyses a lot of data to keep improving the internet for its users. One of the important recorded things is user interaction. 

Page Experience is an algorithm that analyses user behaviour on websites and search results pages and if it feels the result page couldn’t offer what the user was looking for, it means some alterations are required. Furthermore, it also checks how users interact with the ranked landing pages and measures their behaviour.

The following points are the major page experience signals currently on the job to filter out websites that don’t properly interact with its visitors.  

Mobile-friendliness

Google, MintTwist

Over two billion people use only mobile phones today to access the internet. It is anticipated that 72.6% of all internet users will have joined this trend by 2025. A website is not prepared for the internet if it’s not designed for mobiles. You can use Google’s mobile-friendliness test to check for improvements to your website. 

Safe browsing

The internet is full of malicious and deceptive content, but Google doesn’t rank such sites. Page Experience algorithm filters and penalizes them. This also includes pages that use clickbait. 

HTTPS connection or HTTP

It’s the responsibility of website owners to provide a safe connection to their visitors. If a page is served over HTTP instead of HTTPS, it shouldn’t be surprised for its low rankings. 

Invasive interstitials

The use of intrusive interstitials is a rookie mistake if you follow the psychology behind modern UX designs. No website visitor appreciates the big popups that block the view of the content. All website owners must adopt other, more user-friendly ways to build subscribers if they plan to benefit from their partnership with Google. 

Core web vitals will roll out in 2021

While webmasters were trying to understand Google’s updates from April

Google has announced that Core Web Vitals will be released in 2021 with a notice period of at least 6 months.

These are a set of metrics that quantify some key aspects of user experience. AMP will no longer be relevant for featured Top Stories on mobile phones after this update.

Google has already updated its developer tools and published reports to help website owners understand its requirements and optimize their page experience. Core Web Vitals include a number of signals related to loading experience, visual stability, and interactivity of a web page, all of which can be summed up in three core foundations.

Largest Contentful Paint

Page loading time is one thing, LCP measures the time it takes main content of the page to load. It is similar to other metrics like DOMContentLoaded, but it is completely user centric and focuses on what the user sees on their screen. LCP API considers the following HTML elements for Largest Contentful Paint:

  • <img>
  • <image> inside <svg>
  • <video>
  • An element with url() function to load a background image
  • Block-level elements that contain inline-level text elements or text nodes.

If these elements load within 2.5 seconds, it’s considered a good LCP score. It is a bad score if it takes 4 or more seconds. 

First input delay

Good or bad user experience is a quality, but Google knows how to quantify the experience. It can even measure the impression of your site on the user when they first interact with a page. This job will be carried out by First Input Delay (FID) to test the responsiveness and interactivity of the site. It does this by measuring from the time a user clicks the link to the time the browser responds to it. 100 milliseconds or under is good and 300 milliseconds and over is considered a poor FID score. 

Cumulative layout shift

CLS focuses on visual stability and quantifies the unexpected layout shifts. It is annoying for internet users when they are reading an article and the page suddenly changes. Cumulative Layout Shift uses two measures of movement: Impact Fraction and Distance Fraction to measure its score. The CLS score of a site should not exceed 0.25, and 0.1 or less is considered a good job. 

How to measure core web vitals

Google has updated all its developer tools to help identify the Core Web Vitals of your website. While you may be able to measure the issues, a professional SEO service can help to optimize the website. Here are three of the most important tools for this job: 

Chrome UX report

Also referred to as CrUX, Chrome UX Report was drafted by Google using the data of millions of websites that willingly participated in this project. Anyone can access this data through Public Google BigQuery project and PageSpeed Insights. 

PageSpeed insights

Google has updated PageSpeed Insights for Core Web Vitals. You just have to enter the URL of your website and this tool will show you all recommendations with a score for both mobile and desktop that makes measuring performance even easier. 

Search Console

You will find the latest Core Web Vital Reports on Search Console to help you find all pages that need improvement in user experience. These reports are based on real-world data and foundation metrics of LCP, FID, and CLS.  

Conclusion

Pages that take 3 seconds to load get their probability of bounce increased by 32%. Pages with a 6-second load time increase their probability of bounces by 106%. This significant difference is made by just a few seconds. That’s how important user experience is. 

While some might consider it another update to decrease their rankings, it is actually an opportunity for webmasters to increase on-page engagement and sales; after all, Google and you both have the same target audience that needs to be impressed. Google has provided all necessary tools and reports to optimize for Core Web Vitals that will help you enhance the experience for visitors and the conversion rate for you.

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