Update: As of April 19th, on a blog from Google, the May algorithm update has been adjusted to roll out in mid-June. This gives you more time to prepare and get your websites ready for the new user-experience focused update.
Another Google algorithm update is just around the corner. This time Google is focusing on the page experience of your websites to ensure users have a pleasant experience on your site.
Here we’ll be going over what this algorithm update is, what it’s affecting, and how you can get ready for it. This update will likely come with ranking fluctuations, so it’s best to have everything ready before it comes out.
What Is Page Experience?
So first thing first, what does Google mean by “page experience?” Here’s what they have to say:
“The page experience signal measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page. Optimizing for these factors makes the web more delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces, and helps sites evolve towards user expectations on mobile. We believe this will contribute to business success on the web as users grow more engaged and can transact with less friction.” – Google
Google needs to make sure that the websites that are ranking are giving users a good experience that results in them finding what they need. Does the website load fast? Will they get a virus after visiting? Are they trying to steal their information? These are the kind of things Google is thinking about when it comes to page experience.
Up till now, Google has had a few indicators that fall under page experience: page speed, safe browsing (ie. no malware or deceptive tactics), mobile-friendliness, if the site is secure with HTTPS, and the inclusion of intrusive interstitials (aka. pop ups). These indicators would tell Google if the site will give their users a good or poor experience when visiting the site.
With this new algorithm update, they are officially adding three more indicators that Google is referring to as “Core Website Vitals”. These include:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
- First Input Display (FID)
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
This is Google’s push to up the quality of the internet landscape. As technology develops it should be expected that websites perform better and load quicker. With this, the required quality of a website has been inched up a few notches.
What Are These New Core Website Vitals?
Google has recently updated their Search Console to include a report for these new page experience indicators. You can find these reports under Enhancements > Core Web Vitals and clicking “Open Report” for either Mobile or Desktop.
This report will give you a list of your pages that need improvement.
So what might you need to improve? Each Core Website Vital has a specific indicator they report on.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) focuses on the loading time of your website. This will test how long it takes for your content to load on the page.
First Input Display (FID) focuses on the interactivity of your content. Basically, how long does it take till a user can click on something on the page.
And finally, Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) focuses on the visual stability of your website. This could refer to flashes of content, or content elements shifting and moving around as the page loads and afterwards (ex. The whole page loads, you scroll slightly, and then get hit with a popup).
For a better understanding of what Google is looking for in terms of “Good”, “Needs Improvement”, or “Poor”, check out this helpful image from Google:
How Can This Page Experience Update Affect You?
I recommend you checking the report on Search Console to see how your website is doing currently. If you have good scores, there’s nothing to worry about. But if you have some pages with bad scores, you might benefit from spending some time on them and fixing those pages.
If your website has poor page experience once the algorithm hits, it is very likely you could lose ranking spots to websites that have a better page experience than you. Google wants their searches to have a user-friendly experience when visiting the top ranking sites.
There is no firm agreement in the SEO community on how badly this algorithm update will affect rankings, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry later on. Overall, you should want your visitors to have a good experience on your website, both on desktop and mobile.
One other aspect that Google was testing for this algorithm update is a visual indicator that appears on the search results page. This would be similar to the icon for AMP supported pages. This visual indicator could be a make or break point for people to click through to your website. No one wants to have an unenjoyable time on a website.
Source: Peyman Khalili
How to get this indicator or when it will show up is uncertain. There has also been no confirmation if this will roll out with the update. But if Google is testing it, it’s best to assume it could show up either during the update or any time after.
What You Can Do To Improve Your Page Experience
- Start with the new report Google has given us on Search Console. Find the pages that have been deemed a poor experience and fix them in accordance to what Google has determined to be wrong with them.
- Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and mobile-responsive so visitors have an enjoyable experience no matter what device they are using.
- Increase the overall speed of your website. With the new Core Website Vitals, short loading times will become essential to a proper page experience. You may have to make sacrifices to slow loading features on your pages.
- Make your website accessible and easy to use and navigate. Add alt text to images for screen reader accessibility. Ensure pop ups are not maliciously blocking content or showing up at inopportune times. Make buttons and links clear so users know what to click.
- Update your content to make it relevant and up-to-date with what your visitors may be looking for. Content will continue to remain as one of the more important ranking factors. It can also affect the page experience depending on the quality and format of the content.
If you’re looking for help to get your website ready for the algorithm update, or are affected by the update after it’s been rolled out, count on TechWyse to get you back to the top.
Key Points About The May 2021 Page Experience Update
Overall, this update is pushing websites to up their game and be better for their users. Some may worry about another algorithm update that could hurt them, but I’d like to think on the positive side for this update. If websites take this and make their experience and website as a whole better, then it’s sure to be a more enjoyable internet landscape to explore.
Here are some key points to remember:
- When is the algorithm update rolling out: A specific day has not been announced, but any time in May 2021.
- What is page experience: Page experience is the overall performance of your website to ensure your website loads quickly and efficiently, as well as staying secure and giving users an enjoyable time visiting your website.
- Core Website Vitals: These are the new indicators being added to page experience ranking factors. These focus on load time, interactivity with your content, and the visual stability after the page loads.
- SEO Impact: This could be the biggest update we’ve seen, or it could be not as impactful as others. Overall the community is unsure on how much this will affect rankings, however it’s a safe bet that it will affect it to some extent, so make sure you are ready for it.
- Visual Indicators: Google has been testing adding an icon next to web pages in search results that have proven to have a good page experience for its visitors. These may roll out with the update, however there has been no confirmation.
- Improving page experience: Take measures to have your website and pages load quickly and have fast load times. Ensure it is mobile-friendly for mobile users. Add accessibility features and ensure you are not impeding on people reading your content. Content also continues to be important, so continue adding and updating content as necessary.
TechWyse Can Help!
If you’re looking for more information on the May page experience update, or want help with your business’ Search Engine Optimization, contact TechWyse today and set up a strategy session with one of our SEO experts.