Google is at it again. There’s a new update gradually rolling out this Summer that will affect your search ranking. In this blog, we outline what’s included in the Page Experience update and how to position your organization’s website for SEO success going into the Fall of 2021.
Google’s ‘Page Experience’ update
Customer experience – or in Google’s terms “Page Experience” – matters now more than ever.
Every few years (and sometimes even more frequently), Google introduces a change to their search page rank algorithms, and it’s critical that both B2C and B2B marketers stay up-to-date in order to maximize their SEO.
On April 21, Google announced their newest rollout will be gradual – starting in June and fully-deployed in August1. Dubbed the “Page Experience Update”, search rankings will be influenced by signals measuring how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page – combining updated Core Web Vitals with existing search signals including mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS-security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines2.
Here’s a description of the 5 main factors that will affect how your site and landing pages score for Page Experience:
- Core Web Vitals: Collected on a page by page basis, this measures of real-world user experience for loading performance, interactivity, and visual stability of the page including three Core Web Vitals metrics: LCP, FID, and CLS.
- Mobile-friendly: Ensuring that a site is configured properly, is viewable, and is responsive to modern mobile and tablet devices.
- Safe Browsing: Maintain up-to-date protection against six security issues, including malware, deceptive pages, harmful and uncommon downloads.
- HTTPS: Keeping your connections secure.
- Intrusive Interstitials: Keeping content clear and accessible to the user by not showing popups that cover the main content, needs to be dismissed to access the main content, or overshadows the main content in an intrusive fashion.
One important note from Google in their FAQs regarding Core Web Vitals & Page Experience is that at this time, using page experience as a signal for ranking will apply only to mobile Search3.
Once fully implemented in August 2021, page experience will join the hundreds of signals that Google considers when generating SEO results.
Is your SEO performance at risk?
With all the new signals melding as part of the Page Experience update, many marketers are most concerned with one critical, underlying component to this update: Page Speed, and more specifically mobile page speed (as noted above).
That’s because mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, security, and non-intrusive experiences are likely already applied to your site as most modern sites follow these standards. Page speed, however, is often overlooked. Google scores every website’s page speed on a metric scale of 0-100, with 100 being a “perfect” score. To provide a good user experience, [Google recommends] sites should “strive to have a good score (90-100).” According to iMarc4, “three-quarters of the web scores 50 or below, and only 1 in 12 sites scores 90 or better”, falling well short of Google’s standards. That’s a problem for many marketers. Here’s why, as noted by iMarc:
If you score:
- Under 50– you should expect your Google rankings to fall this year.
- Between 51 and 90– you should expect to be outranked by faster sites. If the sites you compete with are also slow, your ranks will probably be fairly stable – you won’t be penalized, but you also will not be competitive.
- Over 90– if your content is good, you’ll rank well.
Further complicating matters, Google’s algorithm will rank your site on a curve against others.
With performance metrics being so aggressive, there will be many enterprise websites (especially the older ones) that were built to meet business objectives but may fail to match Google’s page speed goals. Here are a few common reasons that may cause your site speed to be slower than suggested, and added need for concern5:
- Unoptimized or non-lazy load of images and media files
- Pre-fetch configuration of font files
- Unoptimized CSS
- Excessive HTTP requests
- Not caching
- Third party JS files being injected either via Google Tag Manager or hardcoded into the HTML
- Unclean or bulky code
- Too many ads
- Not using CDN service
- Bad hosting
Paragon’s iterative approach to boost your Google page rank
Preparing for the update is important. First, you should ensure that your site uses HTTPS and is secure, does not have any intrusive interstitials or ads, and is mobile-friendly. Likely, that’s a “check, check, check, check”.
Then, Core Vitals become a focus.
Truth be told, there’s no “silver bullet”; there’s no set format correlating X change with Y increase in page rank. Core Web Vitals is not a simple one and done process, but requires numerous iterations to achieve optimal scores. That’s why it’s critical to identify all the risks to your top performing pages, prioritize them based on those most likely to fix your site’s performance, and then iteratively resolve them and re-measure your scores – repeating that sprint as often as needed until you reach your goals.
At Paragon, we’ve developed a 2 Phased Approach to Boost Your Google Page Rank – one that we’re currently deploying to improve scores for our clients. It includes an initial assessment (Phase I) that delivers a roadmap of recommended remedies, followed by a repair phase (Phase II) to resolve these risks and get you ranking better:
We also offer monthly service plans to help organizations stay proactive with their web performance and accessibility checks (Monitor Plan), as well as ongoing access to resources to handle fixes and other development needs (Develop Plan).
Don’t forget the importance of great content for SEO
A good page experience doesn’t overshadow good content; having both is pivotal to stay ahead of your competition.
Google has always, and will continue to place a strong emphasis on the importance of relevant content for page rank. While brands have relied on strong content to rank well on Google in the past, it’s important that the same level of content persists into the latter half of 2021 and beyond, along with a great page experience.
If your sites content is stacked up next to a competitors with similar content, the one with the better page experience will rank higher (SEO). Plain and simple.
Ready to improve your Google page rank and deliver a better overall digital experience?