If you’ve been following Google’s updates over recent years, the impending 2021 Page Experience update will come as no surprise. For some time now, Google has been on a mission to prioritise user experience over the ever-growing sophistication of ranking techniques.
From 2021, the new Google Page Experience algorithm is set to identify websites that provide the best experience because they are quick, easy and enjoyable to use. Websites with ads in the way of content, unstable elements that move around when you scroll through the screen, links that take ages to load – these are the type of annoying, inefficient online experiences Google’s forthcoming update plans to weed out.
What does this mean for SEO?
The truth is good SEO has always been about user experience- the two go hand in hand. It has only ever been those who misused SEO strategies that have strayed from its UX priorities. From accurate use of keywords to optimisation and web page content, quality SEO practices enhance the user’s experience on your website, ensuring they land on relevant, fast-loading pages with top-notch content and easy navigation through your site.
So how will the update affect your website’s ranking in search for 2021?
How will Google Page Experience affect my website ranking?
First off, the pandemic means we don’t yet have a precise date for the change but Google have said that it will be coming in 2021. The general expectation is that the new algorithm will come into effect sometime around early spring.
The new guidance for the update is set out in Google’s new Core Web Vitals. These values will be used to rank the pages of your site. As with any update, the immediate fear is you may lose your hard-earned positions in SERP but this is not automatically true.
The fresh emphasis on user experience has been building for some time. For those of us who pursue quality SEO practices, we have long known that user experience comes before all else.
This update does not mark a change of direction for Google, instead it is a logical progression in the ongoing quest to ensure search results display the best options for users.
In fact, Google has confirmed this update will not override the importance of having good content..
Websites with great content will still continue to be prized results in search even if they don’t provide the best page experience. If the website offers the best, most relevant content for the user it will still rank well.
How to prepare for the Google Page Experience update
Well if your site is managed by us, you need do nothing. We already operate with user experience a high priority and regular website testing is in place and that will prove key for website owners as we move towards the update.
Writing for Yoast.com, Edwin Toonen sums the change up nicely when he says: optimisations and loading speed metrics may deliver pleasing results but this new algorithm is about how a user experiences all those optimisations.
You may have all the right stats showing up on your analytics but how does that all play out in practice for your website visitors as they use your site. Are your page speeds really as fast as you think? Is the experience on mobile as smooth and clear as it is on a PC? Do those ads block navigation when opened on a small mobile phone screen?
These are the types of questions you’ll need to be asking over the coming months to ensure your website is prepared for the new algorithm. In other words, we’ve got all the elements in place, now let’s test and test again to see how they work from the user’s perspective on every device.
What will the algorithm check?
The Page Experience algorithm will consist of a range of elements - most of which are already in use. These criteria are grouped under the banner of Core Web Vitals which are set to be reviewed annually and may be edited or changed as Google choose.
Google hasn’t disclosed what weighting each element will have on the final page position but we do know Core Web Vitals will include:
- Fast site speeds.
- Efficient mobile optimisation.
- The presence of a https extension.
- Absence of intrusive pop up ads.
- Adherence to safe browsing practices.
3 crucial ways to meet the Google Page Experience algorithm
Wondering what do you need to do to ensure your site continues to rank well? Here are the 3 main ways to ensure your website meets the requirements of the new Google Page Experience algorithm.
1. Fast – loading elements
We all know that waiting around for pages to load is extremely irritating so you’ll need to make sure all elements of your web page content load quickly – that means quick-loading pages and responsive elements.
For top results aim for page loading speeds of 2.5 seconds or less, response times of no more than 100 milliseconds from click to the display of results and a page stability lower than 0.1 to ensure you don’t have content that moves as the user scrolls through the page.
2. Positive experience on any device
Optimisation has been a focus for some time now. As we move into 2021, you’ll want to make sure your user encounters a positive experience on your site regardless of the device they are using.
You’ll need to test that all elements are properly optimised for mobile. They’ll need to display properly, load quickly and be free from any popups that may obstruct the view.
3. Secure browsing
Your site should already be using a https extension to confirm you have the necessary layers of security in place for safe browsing.
Without it, you will already be pondering the cause of your high bounce rate as search engines are programmed to issue warnings for sites that do not possess the recommended levels of security.
As we move into space where experience comes first, the process of achieving and maintaining a desirable ranking for your site in SERP is more time consuming than ever.
Testing is going to be a growing priority - it’s a meaty job that most business owners hand over to professionals. If you want to talk to us about website testing, improving your ranking in SERP or how you can elevate your online presence, please get in touch with us.
We offer a powerful range of data-driven, digital growth strategies proven to ensure you gain an edge over your competitors, build long-term engagement with your customers and achieve a solid ROI.