Google, notoriously tightlipped about anything that heavily influences how they rank search results, have recently announced details regarding one of their most important Google ranking factors – the page experience your visitors have when they click a link and land on your site.
Conducting internal reviews of their own data as well as pulling from industry research, Google has concluded that users significantly prefer sites with a better page experience than those that loads slower, that have little to no mobile-friendliness, and those that are generally confusing to navigate.
Earlier this month, the Chrome team announced Core Web Vitals, a set of metrics related to speed, responsiveness and visual stability, to help site owners measure user experience on the web.
This appears to be pretty straightforward on the surface and perhaps even common sense advice, but many outside of the search engine optimization world are unaware of just how important page experience is when it comes to ranking highly in Google.
There are a handful of different “Core Web Vitals” that Google pays attention to as far as optimizing your search engine ranking for certain keywords, and the page experience signal is one of the more important core web vitals they are tracking.
This specific metric measures important factors like overall web usability of the page and your site in general, load times, interactivity, bounce rate, and the overall stability of your content – and may include details like the freshness of updates, the cleanliness of code, and the overall optimize nature of your “backend”, too.
Other Core Web Vitals (CWV) can include the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), a metric that measures the overall page speed of your content. To have a good overall page experience your site should load within 2.5 seconds. Any longer than that in your user experience suffers (as does your ranking in Google).
First Input Delay (FID) is another of these important vitals, and website owners and administrators are recommended to have an FID of less than 100 ms. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) vitals measure the overall stability of the visuals on your platform, and it’s always a good idea to have a CLS score lower than 0.1 whenever possible – and that’s straight on the horse’s mouth at Google. Check here to see how they calculate Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS).
---------------Updated as of 20th Feb 2021--------------
The metrics defining the boundaries for LCP, FID, CLS, which used to be < (less than), are now defined as <= (less than or equal to). Here is a performance breakdown for core web vitals:
The announcement made by Google that upcoming changes to overall search rankings intended to incorporate these Core Web Vitals as an influential ranking signal has been met with a bit of surprise throughout the search engine optimization industry – though most people expect Google to tinker with and toy with their backend algorithm (sometimes completely overhauling it) with no notice based off of their history.
By adding page experience to the hundreds of signals that Google considers when ranking search results, we aim to help people more easily access the information and web pages they’re looking for, and support site owners in providing an experience users enjoy.
The CWV signals encompass the loading, interactivity, and visual stability of your site, but they combined with the more traditional page experience signals that encompass:
Of course, all of these changes from Google – like all the overhauls in the past – are going to require web owners, marketers, and search engine optimizers to take a closer look at their site and their pages.
Core Web Vitals can now be measured using:
It's confirmed that page speed (Page Experience) is NOT a big ranking factor. However, Page experience has a hugh impact to user experiement hence other important metrics (page on site, conversion rate etc). It's still necessary to keep optimising your website performance for a greater result.
---------------Updated as of 01st April 2021--------------
On 31st March 2021, Google updated its FAQs around the Core Web Vitals and the page experience update. The updated page anwsers a lot of questions that are often brought up by SEOers. What stands out is the one on how Google will still rank the most relevant content despite how poorly it might do with its core web vitals scores. And these pages are still eligible for "Top Stories Carousel" even if the Core Web Vitals is not cleared.
Here are some highlights that I found very useful:
If you’d like to have an expert help you better analyze your site from a web page experience perspective, contact Dean today for more details!