Google Release Important News About One of Their Ranking Factors - Page Experience

Google Release Important News About One of Their Ranking Factors - Page Experience


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.

Google Page Experience and Core Web Vitals  - 2020
Google Page Experience and Core Web Vitals


What Is the Page Experience?


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.

---------------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:

Google Core Web Vitals Performance Cap
Core Web Vitals Performance Cap

Critical Page Experience Signals to Optimize


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:


  • Mobile-friendliness and responsive design capabilities
  • Safe and secure browsing features
  • Leveraging the HTTPS protocol
  • Minimizing (if not eliminating) intrusive interstitials


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:

  • Search Console
  • PageSpeed Insights
  • Lighthouse
  • Chrome DevTools
  • Chrome UX Report
  • Web Vitals Extension

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:

Where does the Core Web Vitals data that Search considers come from?
The data comes from the Chrome User Experience Report , which is based on actual user visits and interactions with web pages (also known as field data). To be clear, the data is not computed based on lab simulations of loading pages or based on the visits of a non-human visitor like Googlebot.
How are scores for individual URLs calculated? In other words, how is it determined if a page passes or fails the web vitals assessment?
Metrics are calculated at the 75th percentile over a 28 day window. By using 75th percentile, we know that most visits to the site (3 of 4) experienced the target level of performance or better. If a page hits the recommended targets for all three metrics, it passes the web vitals assessment.
A 3rd Party service I utilize (such as client-side A/B Testing, Social Embed, Personalization Engines, Comment Systems etc.) is slowing down my site.
Sites may choose to utilize a variety of third-party code and services. Core Web Vitals metrics don’t make a distinction in these choices but only look at the total observed experience of the page as seen by the end-user. Like all other features on a page, it may help to regularly assess the impact of third-party components of the experience on the Core Web Vitals. There may be an improved form of integration or configuration that improves the user experience and will be reflected with improved Core Web Vitals metrics. Check out these resources from web.dev on how to optimize third-party JavaScript on your pages.
What is the page experience update and how important is it compared to other ranking signals?

The page experience update introduces a new signal that our search algorithms will use alongside hundreds of other signals to determine the best content to show in response to a query. Our systems will continue to prioritize pages with the best information overall, even if some aspects of page experience are subpar. A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content.

This is similar to changes we’ve had in the past, such as our mobile-friendly update or our speed update. As with those signals, page experience will be more important in “tie-breaker” types of situations. If there are multiple pages of similar quality and content, those with better page experience might perform better than those without. In short, publishers shouldn’t worry that when we begin using page experience, that they may suffer some immediate significant drop, if they’re still working on making improvements. But publishers should be focused on making those improvements a relative priority over time. This is because as more and more sites continue to improve their page experience, it will be the norm that publishers will want to match.

Are Core Web Vitals a ranking factor when using Google Search on non-Chrome browsers?
Yes. Page experience ranking signals, based on Core Web Vitals, are applied globally on all browsers on mobile devices.


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!



Source:

  • Google(12, 3)
  • Search Engine Journal(12)