In May 2021, Google will implement an update to its algorithm that will significantly impact page rankings. With a heavier focus on user experience, the Google Page Experience update includes the Page Experience ranking factor, which – bundled together with pre-existing ranking factors – introduces Core Web Vitals to the mix.
It’s critical that your business update its website and create new content with these updates in mind. Doing so will maximize your potential in search. Google doesn’t often release details of its updates ahead of time, so the fact that they’ve done so here suggests they are placing a lot of weight on the Google Page Experience update. By getting ahead of the curve in refreshing your website, you’ll be much better off.
The Upcoming Google Page Experience Update
With the upcoming update, the Google algorithm will take on a more comprehensive approach in quantifying user experience. By implementing Core Web Vitals, the algorithm will now consider the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) metric, the First Input Delay (FID) metric, and the Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) metric.
Currently, the algorithm considers user experience with mobile-friendliness, HTTPS, and intrusive interstitial guidelines, Search Engine Watch notes. Together with the Core Web Vitals update, these factors will be combined to create a Page Experience factor.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
The Largest Contentful Paint metric measures the length of time in which a page’s main content – such as an image or text – takes to become visible. When determining the page’s main content, the LCP metric reports on the largest element on the page.
The element size used in LCP reporting is the size that is visible to the user. Any non-visible overflow or clipping is excluded from the element’s size, Web.dev notes.
The largest contentful element can only be determined once the element is rendered and visible. This means the element considered to be the largest contentful element will shift as the page continues to load.
Web.dev writes that the page’s main content should appear within 2.5 seconds of the page’s loading to ensure the best user experience, while loading times between 2.5 and 4 seconds need improvement. Anything above 4 seconds is considered poor.
With the coming update, Google will start ranking pages with good LCP scores higher than those that take longer to load.
First Input Delay (FID)
The First Input Delay metric measures a page’s load responsiveness, or how quickly the page can react to user input. Considered to be a significant factor in a user’s first impression of a page, the lower the FID score is, the better the user’s experience.
Any load time under 100 milliseconds is considered good, while times between 100 and 300 milliseconds require improvement. Anything above 300 milliseconds is considered to be poor.
With the new update to the Google algorithm, poor FID scores will negatively impact page rankings.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
The Cumulative Layout Shift metric measures the visual stability of a page by quantifying the frequency of page layout shifts. These layout shifts can be any instance where the page unexpectedly moves as a new element loads.
This can cause problems for users, ranging from a mild visual inconvenience to an unintentional interaction. Either way, these layout shifts negatively impact the user experience.
Web.dev notes that these shifts can be caused by numerous circumstances, including resources loading out of sync and images or video with unknown dimensions. Font sizes or third-party ads and widgets that resize themselves could also be the culprit.
According to Web.dev, the CLS metric calculates the total of individual layout shift scores for all unexpected layout shifts, which are reported by the Layout Instability API.
CLS scores below 0.1 are considered ideal, while a score between 0.1 and 0.25 needs improvement. Scores above 0.25 are considered poor. With the new Google update, poor CLS scores will negatively impact page rankings.
How You Can Prepare for the Google Page Experience Update
When preparing for the update, it will help to check your LCP, FID, and CLS scores on all website pages and identify what may be negatively impacting them if they are less than ideal. By remaining proactive, you can set yourself up for success early on and not have to rush to ensure your pages are up to standard when the update is rolled out.
Check things like image file sizes and compression to be sure they are optimized. Minify CSS code and remove any unused CSS from your site. Optimize Critical Rendering Paths site-wide, and apply instant loading tactics with PRPL patterns.
Galileo clients have access to BrightEdge Enterprise SEO Technology, which allows us to automate weekly crawls in search of technical errors. With the help of this crawl, we track and monitor improvements to ensure optimal performance once Page Experience goes live.
Why Page Speed Matters to SEO
Nothing can kill a user’s desire to view content faster than a slow-loading page. A 2019 Portent study found that site conversion rates drop, on average, 4.42% with each additional second of load time between 0 to 5 seconds.
Site speed is increasing. According to the 2019 study, the percentage of sites that took 5 seconds or more to load decreased from 50% in 2014 to 22% in 2019. As more sites increase their speed, more users will come to expect it.
Once Google implements Page Experience factors into its algorithm, sites will need to optimize their pages to decrease loading times and improve user experience if they wish to see their pages rank higher.
Questions on the new Google Page Experience update or what you need to do to prepare? Contact Galileo Tech Media today.