Google has announced that Page Experience will become a ranking factor. It’s due to be part of an algorithm update rolled out in 2021, giving us enough time to prepare. In Google’s Webmaster Central Blog, the search giant notes that most business owners will be focusing on responding to the effects of COVID-19 and will, therefore, give at least 6 months’ notice – so there’s no need to panic! However, when Google does give pre-warning of an update, it does usually signal that it will be a large change, and therefore it is not an announcement to be ignored.
Page experience and user experience have always been an important part of website design and performance. It’s already had an impact on your rankings in the form of page speed, mobile-friendliness, security, and pop-up usage (intrusive interstitials). Now, Google has introduced a set of new metrics, called Core Web Vitals, used alongside the existing factors which will impact where your website’s position in Google.
The new ‘Core Web Vitals’ join the preexisting page experience signals to provide a ‘holistic’ way to measure page experience and the quality of a user’s experience on your website.
(Image source, Google Webmasters)
The Core Web Vitals focus on real-world experience of the website, incorporating load time (Loading – Largest Contentful Paint), Interactivity (First Input Delay), and how your content loads (Visual Stability – Cumulative Layout Shift). Let’s look at these in more detail below:
This metric focuses on the loading experience for a user. For this to be considered ‘Good’ it needs to happen within 2.5 seconds from initial load.
This metric measures the time it takes your website to respond when a user interacts with the site. For example, if a user presses a button, how long does it take for the response to appear in your browser? For the metric to be ‘good’ using Google’s system, it should be less than 100 milliseconds.
This metric measures how often website users experience shifts in the page layout that are unexpected. For example, if you are browsing a website and go to click on a button, but the button moves before you can interact with it. In essence, CLS measures how stable the content of your website is. Google needs a CLS score of less than 0.1.
There are a number of tools available that give insight into your websites current performance:
1. Google has added a ‘Core Web Vitals’ section to Search Console. Use this report to help with your optimisation.
2. Google Page Speed Insights will give a detailed break down on your site’s current scores for each metric along with suggestions on how to improve.
3. Google’s Lighthouse tool – this tool will give insight into your webstie performance by simulating it’s experience on a poor 3G connection.
Contact us if you need help with your page experience score and website performance.