Google have recently announced that they’ll be rolling out another new ranking factor in 2021 called Google Page Experience.
This will judge your website based on how user-friendly your website is perceived to be, using metrics such as:
This means that if your website visitors don’t have a great user experience (UX), your Google rankings are likely to suffer after this new update is rolled out.
In this short article we’d like to explain more about what the Google Page Experience update is, why it matters and how you can prepare your website for the changes so your search performance isn’t affected.
What is page experience?
Think back to when you last visited a website and found yourself getting frustrated.
Perhaps the page took ages to load. Or annoying pop-up adverts and opt-ins kept getting in your way. Maybe you could barely read the content because it was designed for desktop use and was tiny.
When this happened, you almost certainly just gave up, clicked the back button and found another website instead.
In this case, the problem wasn’t that the website didn’t offer the right information. It may very well have. The problem was that you didn’t have a good experience using it.
This is what we call page experience.
How much will the update affect your rankings?
At this stage, it’s unclear to how much the Google page experience update will affect your search performance. We’ll only know for sure when the update will be rolling out in 2021.
Having said that, the metrics which Google will be focusing on with this update do already have an impact on your search performance, but in an organic, audience-led way.
As we mentioned at the beginning, visitors are less likely to stick around on your website if they can’t read your information on their mobile, annoying ads dominate the screen or it takes ages for your page to load.
If you haven’t already optimised these factors, it’s more than likely that your website won’t perform as well as it potentially could, regardless of the update.
It’s also important to note that the page experience update factors won’t be the only ones used in ranking your website. Producing engaging, useful content is still the most important factor.
How to prepare for the Page Experience update
Although there aren’t currently any specific tools that can measure page experience, you can identify what needs improvement and make changes with several other tools. These will help you improve your website and get ready for the update.
1. Optimise your site for mobile.
If you’re running a business in the 21st century, you must make sure that your website is mobile friendly.
According to market and consumer data provider Statista, around 52% of traffic in 2019 came from mobile devices. This figure looks set to grow over the coming years, especially as the online market expands as a result of COVID-19.
2. Make your site more secure
These days you must have a secure website if you want to succeed in the online world. You need to keep hackers away, you want to protect your customer’s sensitive personal information and you want to provide users with a safe user experience.
When you can do this, your customers will trust your business, your search rankings are likely to improve and your website will be safer.
There are many ways you can do this, including getting an SSL certificate and switching to https. Both encrypt your website, keeping threats out and helping to boost your SEO rankings.
3. Check your site for security issues
Most businesses will already know if they have been hacked, contains malware or contains content that is deceptive or could potentially harm a visitor or their computer.
However, you can check if your site has any issues that could influence page experience, user experience (UX) or search rankings by using Google Search Console to access a security report.
4. Review how you use ads and images
Using ads and visuals on your website will drive customer engagement, improve the user experience and help boost conversions.
However, it’s vitally important that these don’t detract from your content and provide a poor user experience but add value.
“Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible. This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller,” say Google Webmasters.
Check through your website pages and ensure that any visuals used such as images, infographics, and ads don’t dominate the page. Always opt for high quality, professional standard images instead of stock images.
If you do use pop ups to offer opt-in gifts or encourage newsletter sign ups, keep them to a minimum, avoid using them for mobile and make them easy to close.
5. Improve your page load speed
If you haven’t followed the advice in our blog post ‘Why Low Speed Scores Could Be Killing Your Traffic’, now is the time to do it.
As we said in the blog, your page load speed makes a huge difference when it comes to user experience, your Google rankings and attracting website visitors and it can be relatively straightforward to improve.
“Longer page load times have a severe effect on bounce rates,” say Google Webmasters, “If page load time increases from 1 second to 3 seconds, bounce rate increases 32%.”
To summarise, page experience won’t become a direct ranking factor when the page experience update happens. But combined with other factors, it will influence your rankings overall.
So make sure your site is optimised for mobile, make site security a priority, review your images and opt-ins, and improve your page load speed. You’ll be better placed to maintain your rankings and make your website a more user-friendly, professional place for your customers to visit.