How can developers adapt its software to the new Google?
The Google Page Experience was released at the end of May 2021. As the name suggests, this updated focuses on user experience across a various range of web pages and sites. The new version of the search engine algorithm comprises additional SEO ranking signals. As with every major development, the ranking of web sites, which is displayed to the user across the result pages (SERP), may alter. If some sites are expected to see their SEO ranking improve, without doubt others may well start to plummet… But how can this update be properly managed and maintained by its users? Find out more about the Google Page Experience in this article, as well as tips on how to adapt to Google’s newly developed algorithm.
Page experience set to be a primary criterion
According to Google, the new page experience algorithm measures the different ways in which users interact with a particular website: not only does this concern the design or features of the site, but equally all aspects which can make webpages fluid and pleasant to navigate. The search engine also emphasises the performance of mobile sites. This criterion is not officially defined as a determining factor for SEO rankings however, while almost 56% of browsing is done from smartphones, Google logically prefers sites which are optimised for such devices.
Equally according to the company, the Google Page Experience enables individuals to contribute to the success of the digitalisation era and the e-commerce industry – with this update, users will receive results prioritising: sites that meet certain quality requirements; improving site trustworthiness and further supporting those that facilitate online ordering processes. With this update, it seems that Google are once again, tending towards SXO (Search eXperience Optimisation). This abbreviation represents the correlation between SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and UX (User Experience).
The 4 new SEO criteria
The Google Page Experience is structured on 4 new SEO criteria – some are completely new whilst others are translations of indicators which have already been implicitly implemented into previously developed algorithms.
This - or rather these criteria seeing that they group 3 particular performance indicators – are available on Google Page Speed Insight. These criteria evaluate site performance in relation to the user experience. These performance indicators are:
The Core Web Vitals
LCP – Largest Contentful Paint which is used to measure the rendering time of the largest element which is visible to the user on the page.
FID – First Input Delay which measures the time it takes before a web page responds to the request of the internet user. An example of this would be a site’s response time to a button click. For the FID to be considered “efficient”, it must have a response time less than 100 milliseconds.
CLS – Cumulative Layout Shift which evaluates the stability of a particular web page. Visual stability implies for example, that there are no additional loading times for a web page once the user begins to interact with the site. Otherwise, the displayed items may be modified or moved which consequently has an impact on the user experience.
Mobile-friendly site experience
Since the 2016 “Mobilegeddon” algorithm, Google has taken into account the mobile compatibility of sites within their SEO criteria: display errors are also reported by mail to webmasters or developers when they install the Google Search Console on their site. Such alerts are based on 3 criteria in particular:
Responsiveness – this evaluates the site’s ability to adapt its display to different screen sizes and various devices.
The level of difficulty in reading site content or interacting with the site from a smartphone.
Usage of modern technologies (excluding Flash) and benchmarks for reaching accessibility criteria.
This trend in particular is becoming more widely used with Google’s Mobile First Index, which now penalises sites that are categorised as not being mobile-friendly.
Use of valid URLs
Since 2018, Google has also been proposing that the https communication protocol is to be included within the structure of its algorithm. Whilst this is not the criterion which holds the most importance in SEO ranking, Google still considers https as one of the SEO indicators/signals. This corresponds perfectly to the firm’s future ambitions: Google proposes to offer its clients a better user experience whilst on secure sites. Also note that in the absence of an SSL certificate, this is almost always reported by web browsers in the form of a user alert of some sort. Sites concerned by this issue may therefore be impacted by significant rebound rates, which is essentially the percentage of visitors who leave a particular site without taking any actions.
This complicated definition takes site elements into account, such as popups or banners which suddenly appear on the screen and therefore, can have an impact on the UX of a website. Google lays more weight on this criterion in mobile versions. “Intrusive Interstitials” include:
Popups that cover the main content of a website when loading a page or scrolling.
Displaying an ad or a “stand alone” message which the user has no choice but to close in order to reach the main content of a website.
The designs and layouts where the part of a site above the “waterline” is displayed as an autonomous interstitial which shifts the original content below that particular area.
On the other hand, mandatory banners (for authentication purposes such as for cookies and age confirmation requests as well as for sites where additional information is required) and other banners which occupy a reasonable area located on the screen - without hiding important elements of that site - are excluded from this criterion.
Principal SEO ranking pillars remain unchanged
The arrival of Google Page Experience has not conflicted the historical objective set by Google, which is enabling internet users “to have instant access to information they are looking for”. In order for a site to reach the top of the results page, it must always be designed and optimised in reflection of the 3 pillars of SEO ranking:
· Content – this measures the level of optimisation for natural referencing of both text and images (alt tags, rich and structured texts, frequently updated content, etc.)
· Website popularity – this is also referred to as “off-site” SEO evaluation. This concerns elements such as backlinks and sharing on other web pages.
· “On-site” SEO evaluation, which concerns all elements of a site which are related to its source code, and performance factors such as page loading times, markups, site/ tree structure, URL quality and the presence of sitemaps and rich snippets.
Google’s most recent algorithm update will especially improve the last pillar of SEO ranking by increasing the levels of security and performance requirements for SEO.
The new Google Page Experience algorithm is logically integrated into the user experience improvement strategy set out by Google. While the fundamental pillars of SEO ranking remain unchanged, it is expected that there will not be any significant upheavals for sites that demonstrate good levels of performance, quality content and popularity. For others, it is now or never to start working on achieving these objectives so as not to sink to the bottom of endless results pages…
So, what’s your take on this particular issue? What do you expect from the Google Page Experience? Have you already received alerts as such from web pages who are moving towards optimising their sites for the new update? Don’t hesitate to leave us what you think in the forum!