- What is page experience?
- Core web vitals
- Safe browsing
- HTTPS security
- No intrusive interstitial pages
- Content is (still) king
- Is your site ready for the Google Page Experience?
Good UX Design is about to become more important than ever. Google now recognises the importance of a good user experience and is about to introduce an update to its algorithm that ranks pages based on their UX.
The Google Page Experience update, which introduces a new set of metrics that allow you to measure the user experience on your website (we’ll explain them in more detail below), is due to go live in May 2021. On a side note, we’re kind of hoping it’ll happen on the fourth day of that month so we can quip, “May the fourth be with you” again and again…and again.
Google explained that the algorithm will help ‘contribute to business success on the web as users grow more engaged and can transact with less friction.’1
To help you prepare for this upcoming change, here’s everything you need to know to ensure your website gives visitors a great page experience and avoids slipping down the search rankings.
What is page experience?
According to Google, page experience is a ‘set of signals that measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its pure information value’. So, it doesn’t relate to how useful your website is, but how useable it is.
To help gauge this, they’ve come up with a checklist of items (signals) to help measure the real-world user experience interacting with a web page. You can access Google’s detailed page experience document for developers here, but, in a nutshell, the Google Page Experience includes:
- Core Web Vitals: These include how quickly a page loads, how well it responds, and whether the content unexpectedly shifts
- Mobile Friendliness: Ensuring your webpages are mobile-friendly is essential for visitors browsing on a mobile device
- Safe browsing: ‘Cybercrime is the greatest threat to every company in the world’2 A secure site is vital to keep user information safe
- HTTPS security: A webpage using secure HTTPS to send data between a browser and website inspires trust in your users
- Intrusive interstitial page guidelines: Avoid using mobile pop-ups or interstitials which can negatively impact the user experience
Let’s look at each of them in more detail.
Core web vitals
When you’re online, you want a fast and seamless experience. That’s the thinking behind Google’s Core Web Vitals, which are metrics you can use to measure a webpage’s loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability. They include:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This relates to how long a page takes to load so all content is visible. The target time for a good user experience is within 2.5 seconds
- First Input Delay (FID): This is how long it takes from a user first interacting with a page to the page responding to that interaction. The target time is less than 100 milliseconds
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This is a measurement of whether a page’s content is stable or unexpectedly moves. The target score here is a CLS under 0.1
You can discover how your webpages currently hold up to the Core Web Vital test using this Chrome User Experience Report.
More people than ever before are browsing the internet on mobile devices. In 2020, 84% of adults owned a smartphone – that’s a 30% increase from 2019 – and spent two hours 34 minutes online each day.3
These users expect their mobile browsing experience to seamlessly replicate the one they get on their laptop or computer. If a site takes longer than two seconds to load, they’ll leave.4 Google expects this too, prioritising sites that are optimised for mobile.
To check how mobile-friendly your site currently is, enter your URL into Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and you’ll get the result in seconds. Spoiler alert: our site got a massive thumbs-up.
In an age where there’s an online cyber attack every 39 seconds on average2 it’s never been more important to ensure your site is free from malicious content such as malware or spyware. Google doesn’t want to send people to websites that might steal their personal data, so checks for malware software, hacked content, or social engineering that could lead to security vulnerabilities.
If anything is found, Google’s goal is to remove hacked content from search results, so being on top of potential security issues will help improve your site’s ranking. Does your site have any safety issues? Find out now using Google’s Security Issues Report.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is the glue that holds the internet together. It’s the application layer used by search engines to request and transfer the information needed to load a website using hypertext links. HTTPS is, quite simply, the secure version of HTTP.
As well as prioritising HTTPS sites, Google also prefer those with a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate, which means the data travelling between a user and a server is encrypted.
To check the safety of your site’s connection, visit Google’s best practice guide to securing your site with HTTPS here.
No intrusive interstitial pages
Have you ever tried to click on a piece of content on a website only for an unexpected popup to appear and shift the whole page down so you accidentally click on something else? We feel your pain. It’s frustrating. It’s a big problem on mobile devices. It’s bad user experience.
For Google, making it easy for users to easily access content is key. The Google Page Experience update will penalise pages that obscure content with interstitials such as pop-up ads or promotions. Oh, and this doesn’t include disclaimers such as cookie policies and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) privacy notices.
Content is (still) king
Earlier we said that the Google Page Experience doesn’t relate to how useful your website is, but how useable it is. The good news is that Google has announced that the quality of the content of your site will still trump the quality of its page experience. As noted on the Google Search Central Blog, ‘A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content. However, in cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search.’1
So, as long as the content of your site provides the best answer to a user’s search request, it will still rank highly in Google Search even if it rates poorly in the Google Page Experience metrics.
Is your site ready for the Google Page Experience?
With May 2021 fast approaching, now is the perfect time to ensure your site is UX-friendly and, if needed, adapt it to meet Google’s upcoming changes. As experts in UX Design, we’d love to help you get your website up to speed (quite literally) and keep it high in the search rankings.
To find out more about working together, please get in touch.
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