Yes, page experience will be a new Google ranking factor coming into operation next year 2021. And this reaffirms its commitment to the user experience. Content quality remains the focus, but elements like speed, security, navigation and compatibility with mobile devices will now directly influence the position of pages in searches.
The search engine team has always made clear its interest in delivering the best content available to its audience, but has emphasized, especially in recent years, that the environment in which this information is found should receive the same attention.
The implementation of the new factor is scheduled for 2021, considering that, at the moment, companies are concentrating efforts to deal with the impacts of the new Coronavirus crisis. Google has also pledged to give at least 6 months notice of the date on which the update will, in fact, be implemented.
Should I worry about that?
Who works with SEO knows that the area gathers a huge amount of official information, but it is also full of hypotheses. For marketing and strategic reasons, Google does not reveal the details of its ranking process, which forces companies and professionals to look into their own tests and theories.
However, even though most of the changes appear silently, some changes have so many implications for the web that Google is under the duty to announce them. This is the case with the mobile first index and, more recently, the page experience.
With the worldwide explosion of mobile devices, the internet has taken on a new format that is being contemplated by search engines. Smartphones are already the main means of access in the world, which is why Google finds it so important that your site is properly prepared to receive this type of traffic.
As the mobile version of the sites now has priority in indexing the pages, all the spotlight points to the mobile. That way, if your site delivers a good desktop experience, the challenge now will be to deliver the same performance on all other screen formats.
How to prepare myself?
Today, if we look at several websites in the same segment, it is possible to notice that many of them present pages and posts with similar relevance. In such a scenario, how do you stand out? Google itself indicates: the user experience becomes much more important for ranking.
And a well-ranked page should follow as many assumptions (if not all) below:
- useful: all information provided must be of some use to the user;
- usable: navigation on the page and its functions must be well explained;
- desirable: the website must contain visually attractive elements (such as visual identity, images, sounds and even animations) and that encourage user interaction;
- localizable: based on the essence of SEO, the page must be present in the search platforms;
- accessible: the website must be available to all users, regardless of their means of access or their conditions of use;
- valuable: the content must offer valuable information to users, something that is really relevant to them;
- trustworthy: the page must also have authority over the presented topic and present elements that convey confidence.
These are basic good practices that guide UX work, but they also apply to SEO optimizations. Although they are relatively vague, they give us an initial sense of what Google expects from new web pages. In addition to these, you must also be aware of a set of metrics called Core Web Vitals.
Core Web Vitals
According to Google, “Core Web Vitals” are a set of user-centric real-world metrics that quantify key aspects of that experience. Thus, the new ranking factor would be a combination of several variables, among which the metrics stand out:
- LCP (Largest Contentful Paint): it is the time needed to render the largest element present on the page, usually an image – this helps to inform the user that the site is being loaded;
- FID (First Input Delay): it is the interval between the user’s first interaction (touch or click, for example) and the moment when the browser responds to this action – demonstrates that the page is interactive;
- CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift): measures (on a scale of 0 to 1) how much the page layout changes as it loads – the movement of elements can impair the user experience.
Having understood these metrics, Google establishes the following parameters for a good experience on the page:
- loading: the LCP should be up to 2.5 seconds from the first loading;
- interactivity: the FID must correspond to a number less than 100 milliseconds;
- visual stability: the CLS should be less than 0.1.
These are slightly more technical details and may depend on the help of professionals in the field of SEO and programming. Anyway, the purpose of this article is to indicate that this is the time to provide actions for your site to benefit from all these updates – if you need help, you can contact us.