The internet is always evolving. And while that leaves potentially boundless room for new opportunities, it can also be a constant source of frustration and confusion for business owners. Keeping up with consumer trends and Google’s rules can be a real challenge, especially when you don’t realize a change has occurred until after your site’s rankings are affected.
Occasionally, Google will throw us a bone and let us know what we can expect from them in the coming months. This courtesy was extended recently when Google notified us that they’ll be making a major adjustment to their algorithm soon. In this article, we take a closer look at the forthcoming Page Experience Update that is set to go live sometime in May 2021. Keep reading to learn how it may impact your site’s presence in search.
What is the Page Experience Update and Why Does It Matter?
Google actually makes thousands of algorithm updates each year (many of which you might not even notice!) While each of these updates will have different focuses, the main goal of updating the search ranking algorithm is to deliver more relevant and valuable results to web users by rewarding the right sites.
This algorithm update, in particular, is focused on the user experience of specific website pages. Google has certain ranking signals it will take into account when determining page experience, which mainly centers around loading speed and performance, security, layout shifts, obtrusive elements, and mobile-friendliness. The aim here is simple: to make sure a given page of a website provides a consistently positive experience for the user.
Like many other Google algorithm updates, this one matters because it could potentially impact a site’s search ranking. If your site aligns with Google’s ranking signals and best practices, you might expect to sustain your ranking or even see some improvement. But if you fail to take page experience into account, it’s entirely possible that your site’s ranking will falter or that you receive an official penalty from Google. Since this can have a big impact on your web traffic, brand perception, and conversions, we recommend making changes now to mitigate damage later.
What Can You Do to Prepare Your Site For This Algorithm Update?
On that note, you might be wondering what exactly you can do to get your site ready for this algorithm roll-out. Here are just a few tips we’d recommend you discuss with your digital marketing agency or web developer prior to the Page Experience release.
Improve Loading Performance: One of Google’s new Core Web Vitals is known as LCP, or Largest Contentful Paint. This involves the loading speed of a given page (specifically, the amount of time it takes for a page’s largest content element to load completely). Your LCP rate should be lower than 2.5 seconds to adhere to Google’s standards.
Prioritize Visual Stability: Web visitors don’t want a page’s layout to jostle around while loading, as this, can be disruptive to the user experience. Cumulative Layout Shift, or CLS, is another one of the Core Web Vitals and refers to the combined number of layout jumps that occurs within the lifespan of a page. Your CLS score should be under 0.1 for the best results.
Reduce Interactivity Delays: Users expect to be able to interact with a page very shortly after they arrive there. But if there’s a delay between when a page first appears and when a visitor can click or interact with it, that can be problematic. The third of Google’s Core Web Vitals is First Input Delay (FID), which should be less than 100 milliseconds to ensure a positive user experience on a page.
Fix Page Errors: In addition to the Core Web Vitals, you’ll also want to eliminate any page or navigation errors, like broken and incorrect links. Make sure to fix unavailable pages with redirects or removals, if the content is no longer available, for a better experience.
Ensure Mobile-Friendliness: With roughly half of all web traffic now coming from mobile devices, it’s more important than ever to prioritize mobile users. Your website needs to be responsive in design and friendly to mobile users, which means you’ll also want to stop using interstitials (obtrusive pop-ups) and other elements that can interrupt the viewing experience on a smartphone or other electronic device.
Promote Site Security: Both web users and Google expect impeccable site security. That means your site needs an SSL certificate, even if you aren’t asking users for any sensitive information. You’ll also need to ensure there are no browsing issues that could lead to security issues for users of your site. Since breaches and hacks are becoming more common, it makes sense to make this a priority anyway.
Now that you understand what to expect with this algorithm update, you can take steps to ready your site in advance. Having the opportunity to eliminate unexpected ranking issues before they ever happen is a real gift — so don’t squander your chance to prepare.
Need Assistance Updating Your Site?
For assistance with evaluating your site’s performance, or making the necessary updates, contact R/A Marketing at 301-358-2355 or visit our contact page to submit a request for a free 30-minute consultation.