Google have recently announced a new ranking factor which will be rolled out in early 2021. This new ranking factor is called “Page Experience” and essentially measures how users perceive the experience of interacting with a specific web page. The purpose of this update is to ensure that Google will show sites that users really love at the top of their search results. In essence, user-friendly websites will rank higher than sites which are not user-friendly once this update is rolled out.
This new ranking factor signals the beginning of a shift in the world of SEO. It also means that many companies may now find themselves in the position of needing to update their website, and taking a much closer look at UX. We’ve broken down the impact that this new algorithm will have on your website’s ranking and how you can prepare for its arrival.
How does this new update work?
If Google believes that users on your website will have a poor web page experience, they may not rank these pages as highly on their search engine results pages as they currently do. They measure user experience using a set of metrics called Core Web Values, which can be viewed through the Google Search Console, which comprise user-centred metrics including page load time, engagement statistics and stability of your web content.
What is page experience?
Page experience essentially aims to understand how a user will perceive their experience on a specific web page based on Core Web Values such as how quickly the page loads, if its mobile optimised, runs on HTTPS, has intrusive ads or if content moves around the page as it loads.
What’s so important about this update?
This update signals a huge shift in Google’s algorithm. Google is now placing a greater focus on showing the sites that users love the most first. It is highly likely that in the coming years we will see many more updates focusing specifically on user experience. Google has also given a lengthy notice period, allowing website owners time ample time to update their Page experience, which is uncommon. This shows how important this update will be.
How can I optimise my website’s Page Experience for 2021?
Google have emphasised ‘Page Experience’ rather than ‘website experience.’ This doesn’t mean that only some pages of your website need to have a good user experience, but it seems to suggest that they’re going to focus on a page-level basis for their algorithm. If only a few of your webpages have poor experience relative to your overall website, then it wouldn’t make sense for Google to reduce the rankings of your whole site. That being said it is important that your whole website provides a great user experience both for the sake of ranking and for your users.
We’ve compiled our top tips to ensure your website is ready for the 2021 Page Experience Update.
1. Optimise your site speed
The faster your website loads, the better your user experience will be. There are numerous websites and add-ons which can check this for you including Google’s Think With Google site speed checker.
A website load time of less than 3 seconds on both mobile and desktop should be what you’re aiming for.
2. Reduce Errors
Pay particular attention to any possible 404 errors or broken links on your website. Broken pages create a negative user experience. Use Neil Patel’s SEO analyser tool to discover any errors which could be impacting your user experience.
3. Ensure Your Website is Mobile Optimised
53% of worldwide web traffic came from mobile in 2019. It’s no longer acceptable to have a website which is just suited to desktop browsing. To check if your website is mobile optimised input your domain name into Google’s handy mobile friendly test.
4. Check Out Your Competition
How does your user experience stand up to your competitors? Your competitor’s user experience will directly impact your ranking as you’ll likely both be vying for the same keywords and search engine results. SEMrush is a handy tool to analyse your competitors.
5. Analyse Your Website Design
It’s important to discover any usability issues that your website may have. One great way of discovering these is through the use of heat maps. We recommend installing Hot Jar, a heatmap tool for your website. An example of a potential usability issue which may become apparent when using heat maps is seeing a large number of clicks on a symbol that is not clickable but which users believe is. To improve user experience, these images could then be made clickable.
User experience is only going to become more and more important as time goes on. Analyse all on page metrics on Google Analytics, and compare them with previous periods to see if your engagement metrics are trending in the same direction.
This update means that website owners must now think ahead and ensure their websites offer the best experience possible. We are in a good position with this update as Google have provided us with advance notice. Use this time wisely to fix any usability issues you may have.
SEO with Evolution Digital
If you’re looking to improve your website’s user experience in time for the page experience roll out, or are looking for general SEO services, then be sure to contact our expert team here at Evolution Digital. Give us a call on 01 288 5118 to discuss your needs or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.