Google started rolling out the Page Experience Update last year, but the search giant continues to tweak the algorithm in ways that have lasting benefits (and consequences) for website developers and administrators. Back in May 2020, almost two years ago, Google first announced the update and new metrics that would contribute to a site’s overall health and ability to rank well. SEO’s were given months to update their clients’ websites and fall in line.
We’ll begin using page experience as part of our ranking systems beginning in mid-June 2021. However, page experience won’t play its full role as part of those systems until the end of August. You can think of it as if you’re adding a flavoring to a food you’re preparing. Rather than add the flavor all at once into the mix, we’ll be slowly adding it all over this time period.
When Did the Desktop Page Experience Update Rollout?
In November 2021 Google announced that they would roll out the same page experience update for desktop searches, as the initial update was geared toward mobile searches. This rollout is happening now, and should end in March (this month).
The good news is that scoring well for Desktop User Experience is pretty easy and most of your users have high speed internet in the United States – page speeds being one of the primary factors contributing to page experience scores. So load times should not be an issue if your web developer is qualified. Even most WordPress themes should be fine. What you want to focus on is the usability and actual experience Google wants you to deliver – for mobile and desktop users.
What Exactly is Google’s Page Experience Update?
The best way to understand the update is by looking at all the page experience signals that rolled out for mobile. The include the new tools and reports in Google Search Console , and the PageSpeed Insights Tool.
Think of page experience as one piece of a strong foundation.It does not make or break your SEO campaign, but it can lower the strength of your SEO performance. Having a strong foundation for SEO allows you to compete at a higher level, compared to a weak foundation (page experience, content, citations and etc).
End of day Google wants to make sure the quality of websites they list on their search results cater to users with any device, browser, connection speed and etc. Its still all about the user, not you. If you do not focus on providing an optimal experience for users, you will lose traffic one way or another.
What are the Factors for the Mobile and Desktop Page Experience Update?
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
- First Input Delay (FID)
- HTTPS Security
- Absence of intrusive interstitials
- Mobile friendlines (N/A)
Description of all factors can be found here
Core Web Vitals Is Only One Part of Your Campaign.
By now most SEO’s have realized the underlying focus of these updates. Its for the user, Google is trying to find other ways to gauge the quality of a website and clean up their search results.
Instead of being hyper focused on factors alone, think about the actual user experience on the website. Use a desktop computer and watch a family member traverse the website and ask them what they think. Look at competition and see what they are doing different. There are also services out there where you can gain insight via heat maps and other visual analytics telling you what users do on your website, whats clicked on or even missed too often.
If you do not have an experienced team running your local or organic SEO campaign and are running your own campaign, this might be a good time to hire a consultant to give you a rundown on what can be improved upon.
Where Should I Focus My Efforts?
You want customers to stay on the website, and it all starts with making sure your website loads fast and presents content in a manner thats easily viewed on any device, browser or internet connection.
Provide a layout thats easily navigable and segmented delivering the information the user came for. From blog categories to silos of content, make sure your web visitors can find what they came looking for.
There is a great book out there that I read when I started in this field and its called “Dont Make Me Think“. I don’t have to explain the book, it’s obvious isn’t it?
What happens when you provide engaging content, easily navigable websites and fast loading pages? User engagement, higher conversions and your website is falling in line with Google’s perceived standards.
Google Is Always Two Steps Ahead
In the long run PE is just one part of the algorithm, and a part of your SEO foundation. If you score higher than a competitor, it doesn’t mean you will rank better than them. It only allows you to compete on the same playing field.
Think forward. You now Google is always two steps ahead. Keep your website PE scores up to date and run reports and site audits regularly, Importantly, always think about the user first. More than likely, Google will one day add user behavior to their algorithm (Example: How long does a user stay on your website or convert versus competition in the same industry). Obviously a huge sample size would be needed, but the PE updates create a strong starting point. Makes sense doesn’t it? At least thats where we (SEO community) see Google headed.
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