Google is about to launch a new website-ranking algorithm that puts more emphasis on user friendliness through a factor called Page Experience. While SEO and content will still be important, the quality of a user’s visit, as it relates to speed and other interaction-related factors, will rise to being a top consideration in search rankings. If you’ve been ignoring your user experience, it might be time to make some updates.
Page Experience components
Page Experience will combine what Google is calling new “core web vitals” with its already existing “search engine signals” for page friendliness. Google’s goal is for searchers to get answers faster and with fewer disruptions. When quality of content is roughly the same, Google will rank the more-user friendly page higher under the new algorithm.
The existing search engine signals that will now come under the Page Experience umbrella are:
- Page speed,
- Mobile friendliness,
- Safe browsing,
Core Web Vitals
To supplement the existing signals and further break down a good page experience, Google is rolling out three core web vitals in May. This is only the beginning of what the company sees as a continual process of identifying signs of a good page experience and updating the vitals list. For now, the core web vitals are:
- Largest contentful paint (LCP) – this has to do with site loading and looks at how quickly the main element or image is ready for the user to fully view. An LCP of 2.5 seconds or lower is ideal.
- First input delay (FID) – this looks at responsiveness once a page is loaded and measures the time it takes a website to react to a user clicking on an element or link. A good FID is 100 milliseconds or less.
- Cumulative layout shift (CLS) – this has to do with visual stability or how much elements move and jump around as the page loads. Aim for a CLS score of 0.1 or less.
Note, Google is emphasizing page experience — not website experience. Based on the terms Google has chosen to use, it appears that websites with a large portion of pages meeting the Page Experience criteria will be rewarded, rather than penalized for the few pages that might be slow loading or visually unstable. That doesn’t mean it’s ok to have broken pages, however.
Content and SEO still important
While Page Experience will emphasize speed and other eye-pleasing factors, you shouldn’t let content slip. The most fabulous page experience will fall flat if content is poor. Likewise, good use of SEO will also still be important to getting your page identified.
Going forward, the best scenario will be to have your web team simultaneously consider Page Experience factors, content, and SEO. Contact us now to discuss how to improve user experience with your pages, and to evaluate content and SEO.