Navigating Google’s new page experience algorithm

From June 2021, Google will start to update its search algorithms to reflect the growing importance of web page experience. It’s a significant development that will have a direct impact on search rankings, so getting to grips with the changes is important if you rely on attracting organic traffic to your website.

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Cobiro's Content Team

Google’s aim is to provide the best results possible to search queries. This means providing links to websites in its search rankings that it is confident will provide an enjoyable experience.

It knows that if people have a bad website experience, they’re likely to leave quickly and move on to the next website - which isn’t good for the user or Google’s reputation.

The page experience algorithm is a major update that combines existing page experience signals with new ones. Here’s what you need to know about it.

About the page experience algorithm

For every search, Google’s ranking systems shift through billions of web pages in its index to determine the most relevant and useful. Page experience is just one of hundreds of factors it looks for, but if your website relies on organic (unpaid) traffic then it’s important to take it seriously.

The overarching goal of the page experience update is to improve the overall web browsing experience, both on mobile and desktop. Google describes it as a “set of signals that measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its pure information value.”

Learn how Google’s search algorithms work in this short article.

Watch this space

Google is trialling a new visual indicator that will highlight pages in search results that have great page experience.

Two important points

Google plans to update the page experience signals on an annual basis, so they’re here to stay. Keeping your website optimized should be a continual process rather than a one-off. 

Second, it has said that it still looks to rank pages with the best information overall, even if the page experience falls below its standards. This means that a great page experience will not necessarily override having great content, however, where there are multiple pages with similar content, page experience becomes much more important. 

If you want to outrank your competitors, we recommend making sure both your content and page experience are first-rate.

Learn how to create compelling SEO content with these top tips.

The seven page experience signals

Made up of four existing and three new ones (Core Web Vitals), Google’s aim is to provide a holistic view for measuring page experience. 

New signals: Core Web Vitals 

Divided into three specific measurements, Core Web Vitals is a set of new factors Google thinks are important to a web page’s overall user experience. They emphasize speed and stability, in response to users demanding content that's readily available, regardless of where they are or the device they are using.

Read our in-depth guide on Core Web Vitals. 

Loading: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

This is a measurement of the time it takes to load the largest piece of content on your page. Google looks at the largest image or text block on a page, and calculates the render time (when it’s fully loaded and visible) relative to when the page first started loading. The longer people have to wait, the worse the experience of using that website will be.

Interactivity: First Input Delay (FIP)

This is a measure of how long it takes for your page to become interactive and responsive. Google calculates the time it takes from when a user first interacts with your page (by clicking on a link, tapping a button or submitting a form) to the time when the browser is able to respond to that interaction.

Visual Stability: Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

This is a measure of how often unexpected movements happen on your page. Elements, such as third party ads or images with no dimensions that shift around while the user is viewing the page can contribute to a poor page experience. Google looks at the space an element takes up, and how much it moves on a screen to determine a CLS score.

Core Web Vitals: How to improve your website's score

Understanding Core Web Vitals and making sure your website is optimized in time for the algorithm update can feel like a daunting task - but help is at hand.

Our dedicated Core Web Vitals article explains how to measure your website's score and provides practical solutions for improving its speed and performance.

Existing signals

Google already uses the factors below to help determine which websites to rank, but it’s worth taking a moment to remind yourself of what they are and to make sure your website meets the criteria.

Mobile Friendly

First introduced in 2015, websites that are optimized for mobile devices get an additional ranking boost from Google. It wants to ensure the search results it provides deliver the best possible experience when users are on the move, at work or at home. And given that in 2020, mobile devices took a 51.6% share of web traffic (up from 35.1% in 2015), this signal is likely to become more prominent in the future.

Use this test to find out how mobile-friendly your website is.

Safe Browsing

Web pages that feel spammy or unresponsive aren’t great for the user, and they can often be a sign of something more serious. Google checks websites to make sure there are no dangerous downloadables or software. This includes looking for malware (an application specifically designed to harm a computer) or social engineering (where a user is tricked into doing something dangerous, such as revealing confidential information). 

HTTPS

Keeping data secure is crucial in today’s website user experience. A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate helps keep hackers at bay by scrambling data as it’s exchanged between a website and its server. Google prioritizes websites that are served over HTTPS, and working out which websites do this is straightforward: sites with an SSL certificate begin with https:// as opposed to just http://. The ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’.

Get a SSL certificate included across all of Cobiro’s plans.

No Intrusive Interstitials

This signal looks at whether a web page contains pop-ups or advertisements that interfere with the content on a webpage, making it hard to read or navigate. Pages with logins and legally required interstitials, such as disclaimers, are fine; but those with unnecessary pop-ups are likely to frustrate the user, make the content less accessible and be judged negatively by Google. 

How Cobiro can enhance your page experience 

Online success is easier when everything’s in one place. That’s why Cobiro’s digital presence platform provides a range of tools and apps to help businesses thrive online, regardless of where they are on their growth journey. 

1. Use our SEO app to optimize your current website

Improve your website’s search ranking with our free SEO app. Simply add your URL and receive a report on how to improve your site. The results of the SEO scan will give you actionable suggestions on what to improve and how, such as site speed, page structures, page experience (from June 2021) and more. 

Get started.

2. Create a best-in-class JAMstack website for free

Websites that follow the JAMstack approach are ideal for meeting and exceeding Google’s page experience expectations. That’s because they use a global network of servers, known as CDNs to deliver content, rather than rely on a single “origin” server. This means incredibly fast page speeds and best-in-class website security. 

Explore our website builder.

3. Turn your existing website into a JAMstack solution

Got a static website but need an effective hosting solution? Cobiro’s GitHub connection (beta) provides a seamless link between your headless CMS, static site generator and CDN host. Once deployed, your website will become a JAMstack solution - hosted via Cloudflare’s global servers.

Sign up now.

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