Note: This update has now been pushed back to June 2021, for full details read our news story.
Earlier in the year, Google announced that page experience signals would be included in Google Search ranking. Now Google has officially announced that the page experiences in rankings will roll out in May 2021. This gives publishers plenty of time to implement the appropriate changes to their website.
Currently Google’s search signals include mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS- security, and its intrusive interstitial guidelines (i.e. pop-ups). The new page experience signals will combine these with Google’s Core Web Vitals, which includes measuring:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – the time interval between the start of a page load to the moment the largest image of text block in the user’s viewport has fully rendered
- First Input Delay (FID) – the amount of time it takes for a page to be ready for user interactivity (such as clicks, scrolls or keyboard inputs)
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – the unexpected shifting of web page elements while the page is still downloading
What is clear is that, going forward, Google will continue to focus their efforts in getting their users the “most helpful and enjoyable experiences” online. This means that now, more than ever, sites need to optimise for user experience.
Google believes that it is helpful to its users if they are provided with the quality of a web page’s experience. The search engine giant plans to soon test a visual indicator that identifies pages that have met all of the page experience criteria as listed above.
In addition to giving publishers six months to prepare, Google has also released a range of tools to aid in improving page experience.
Core Web Vitals Report
Google Search Console’s Core Web Vitals Report shows how pages perform based on real-world usage. URL performance is grouped by status, metric typic and URL group. The report is based on its current metrics of LCP, FID and CLS.
PageSpeed Insights and Lighthouse
PageSpeed Insights (PSI) reports on the performance of web pages on both mobile and desktop devices in a lab and on the field. Lighthouse, meanwhile, is an automated website auditing tool that helps web developers diagnose issues with accessibility and performance in a lab environment.
Both tools can help publishers iterate on fixing uncovered issues, and Lighthouse provides a set of actionable recommendations on how to improve page experience.
Google boasts AMP as “one of the easiest and cost-effective” solutions for publishers to achieve great page experience outcomes. AMP was created to help develop user-first sites. Google’s recent analysis shows that 60% of AMP domains pass the Core Web Vitals metric vs. just 12% of non-AMP domains. So this is definitely an opportunity not to be passed up.
Change is coming. Thankfully Google has given us plenty of time to prepare for what demonstrates a big shift from them. In their announcement, Google does go on to say that they will incorporate more page experience signals going forward and plan to update them annually. This makes it very important to take advantage of their handy tools the search engine has provided to generate great user experience and maintain a high ranking in the SERPs.
So what do you think of Google’s update coming next year? How are you preparing? We’d love to hear from you in the comments or on our Twitter.