There’s nothing special going on here. Well, not in the sense that you should be surprised. We might not know the specific things Google is implementing but the trajectory of the updates remains clear.
Google is big business and, as with any business, it must please its clients. In 2019, Google spent 26 billion dollars on R&D, 30% of its sales. Keeping their customers happy is paramount. Looking to and perhaps inventing the future is essential for them.
As people who run websites, we are not Google’s clients. Google’s clients are people who use the search engine to find things. Great page experience, great experience of Google’s service; is their goal. So the move to Page Experience signals makes a lot of sense.
Google’s Page Experience Signals – Why? What? When?
It is true that Google’s main objective is to provide the best search results it can to its users and traditionally, that has meant getting the keywords and context right so that Google ‘understands’ what a website is about. But to think that the best search result means only that would be a mistake.
Humans are a species that constantly change, improve and make things to facilitate ourselves. From learning to control fire, and making tools, to electricity and computers. We will always want more and Google knows it must keep up.
Google doesn’t just want to deliver relevant results — it wants to return a search result that also provides a great user experience. So it makes sense that Core Web Vitals have become more crucial and that UX will become a bigger part of SEO.
Robert Portillo – Nimbus Marketing
Google is a people pleaser. Google is the most used search engine in the world, Google Chrome is the most popular browser. Previously Google would have been happy to send you to a page that seemed relevant and that was the end of it. Page experience was a relatively minor issue.
But due to increased use and competition, and the monetisation of Google it has become important that searchers who click on a search result for a specific thing, end up on a page about that thing. And with the competition, which page about that thing seems to best answer the searcher’s query. Which page should Google send the searcher to?
Google must constantly ask:
- How do results need to be delivered to consumers for consumers to find them useful?
- Is Google sending consumers to the right page?
- Does one page deliver more value to a user than another?
- Will consumers still be happy with Google?
- Is Google still pleasing people?
Google wants its customers to have the best user experience. If Google perceives that its customers are not getting what they want, given the opportunity, Google will offer a different result. So don’t be surprised when Google optimises its service delivery.
In order to be recommended, you must show the master you are good enough.
So what are Google’s Page Experience Signals actually?
Google’s Page Experience signals have been existing or in the pipeline for a while, they are about optimising page experience, they make sense. They seek to make the real-world experience of users interacting with web pages Google has sent them to, better. They include the following elements, all of which you will see, affect the whole experience of searching and finding.
Websites need to look good and work well on mobile. Text and content need to be readable without zooming in or out, and tap targets need to be appropriately spaced. Sites need to be designed to help make it easier for your customer to visit your site and complete a task. Ease of use on mobile is key. You can check with Google to see if your website is mobile friendly.
Page speed is a direct ranking factor. People don’t like pages that take forever to load, they leave. Google notices and hesitates to send people there again. Pages with a longer load time tend to have higher bounce rates and lower average time on page. Longer load times have also been shown to negatively affect conversions. Page speed is a major factor in website optimisation it affects numerous other elements.
Visits to a site via HTTP take place in plain text which can be read easily by any hacker who breaks the connection between your browser and the website. HTTPS protects all communication and customer information. Businesses that use HTTPS can be verified. In the case of any e-commerce site, in particular, customers will feel safer shopping there.
Pop-ups or intrusive interstitials affect user experience. Google wants to help users access the content they have requested. Intrusive popups, Ad’s, interstitials, should not interfere with the user experience.
Safe browsing warns users when they navigate to sites that have the potential to steal personal information or install software designed to take over their computers. Six different security issues are detected by Google’s Safe Browsing, including the presence of malware, deceptive pages, harmful downloads, and uncommon downloads. Google Search Central (previously Google Search Console or GSC), will let you know if anything is wrong with your site.
The Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) metric reports how long it takes for the largest image or text block to become visible on the page. Addressing page speed issues, reducing the size of elements, will assist in fixing this issue.
The First Input Delay (FID) metric reports how long it takes from when a user clicks on a link, taps on a button, or uses a custom control to when the browser is able to process that request. Addressing page speed issues will assist in fixing this issue, if a page loads fast there will be little delay.
Page Visual Stability
The Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) metric reports on any time an element that is visible on a device unexpectedly changes its start position. Those occasions when text or images move. Reserving space and including size attributes alongside addressing page speed issues will assist in fixing this issue.
Does the site provide the information required in an easily accessible fashion?
Google’s Page Experience signals should not be a surprise. What this all comes down to are functionality and usability. It is entirely logical and in keeping with their goals for Google to use all their data to determine whether one page delivers more value to a user than another, on multiple levels.
Page experience signals are important but are only a part of the 200+ ranking signals Google uses. Google will still seek to rank pages with the best information overall, even if the page experience is subpar. Great page content and relevant responses to search queries are still primary. However, in cases where there are a number of sites with similar content, page experience takes on more significance for visibility in Search.
You can watch our Core Web Vitals webinar to understand more about some of the Page experience signals and keep an eye out for more details on Page Experience Signals.
And if you’re interested in some predictions about what’s coming next from Google, search engine watch has put together a nice infographic 🙂