Google announced on Tuesday that they will start rolling out Page Experience as a ranking signal in May 2021. This upcoming algorithm change intends to favour sites with good page experience.

Earlier in the year, Google announced new Core Web Vitals metrics, which are a set of factors that will be a key part of Google’s Page Experience score to help decide who ranks where. This involves a set of specific factors that Google considers important in a webpage’s overall user experience, including Page speed, Interactivity and Visual stability.

Other factors that Google will also include as part of the update include: 

  • Mobile friendliness
  • Safe browsing
  • HTTPS
  • No intrusive interstitials

Is it Important?

A resounding yes.

Google plans to make page experience one of the leading ranking factors next spring. This will be a blend of factors that Google considers important for user experience, and your Core Web Vitals will be a very important part of that score.

When collecting page experience data for a site, Google has confirmed that although they try to be as granular as possible in order to deal with page experience on a page by page basis, this isn’t usually possible.

For some sites, page experience data will be aggregated, meaning that a site should have all pages meet Google’s page experience criteria in order to avoid receiving a negative impact on rankings throughout the site.

Google has also mentioned that they plan to display a visual indication within the search results page when a site passes these criteria, providing an incentive for users to click through to sites which have been confirmed to provide a good user experience. This adds another level of motivation for sites to ensure they meet the good page experience criteria.

How Can We Measure ‘Page Experience’?

Google’s page experience criteria consists of the following:

Core Web Vitals

These consist of three metrics which are used to measure the user experience of a page.

First Input Delay (FID)

Measures from when a user interacts with a page, to the time the browser can process the event. Due to not being available in simulated environments, we use Maximum Potential First Input Delay and Total Blocking Time to measure this.

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

This metric reports the render time of the largest image or text block visible within the viewport. Can also be seen as the loading speed of a page.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

CLS measures the sum total of all individual layout shift scores for every unexpected layout shift that occurs during the entire lifespan of the page.  A layout shift occurs any time a visible element changes its position from one rendered frame to the next.

 The new ranking signals are will involve a combination of Core Web Vitals and the other four existing ranking signals.

Mobile Friendliness

This is a measurement of how usable a website is on a mobile device. Issues can occur when elements of a page do not load correctly, or if parts of a page are not correctly optimised towards mobile users.

Safe Browsing

The security issues report within Google Search Console alerts us to any issues on a site which compromise safe browsing, this can include the following issues:

  • Hacked content: This is any content placed on your site without your permission because of security vulnerabilities in your site. In order to protect our users, Google tries its best to keep hacked content out of our search results.
  • Malware and unwanted software: This is software that is designed to harm a device or its users, that engages in deceptive or unexpected practices, or that negatively affects the user. Malware can be either installed by a hacker or the site owner.
  • Social engineering: This is content that tricks visitors into doing something dangerous, such as revealing confidential information or downloading software.

Any security issues raised by Google should be resolved as a priority.

HTTPS

HTTPS is an internet standard form of encryption. Sites without HTTPS encryption subject their users to HTTP request-response attacks, putting their sensitive information at risk.

Browsers such as Google Chrome and Apple Safari will also warn users who access a page without HTTPS encryption, making users less likely to follow through with providing sensitive information such as log-in or payment details.

No Intrusive Interstitials

As part of Google’s mobile-friendly initiative, if there are any interstitials on a page that Google deems to be intrusive this can have a negative impact on organic rankings. This can include the following: 

  • Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page. 
  • Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
  • Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.

Fusion’s Page Experience Auditing Process

As part of a technical SEO strategy, we recommend focusing on improving all Page Experience signals ahead of rollout. As part of our reporting & audit process, we identify any under-performing areas and illustrate how you can address these, by utilising proprietary tools which can pull core web vital metrics across a site.

We mark any poorly performing areas as an immediate target to improve in order to boost your site’s user experience and benefit from Google’s upcoming algorithm change.

How Do We Do This?

We combine Google’s CrUX (Chrome User Experience Report) data with our own core web vitals data in order to provide a full picture on the performance of your site. 

Google CrUX – Publicly available data. Provides a top-line view on core web vitals data for any site within the database. Data is sorted by site experiences (amount of users experiencing a site) and if their experience passed, failed or required improvement, based on Google’s criteria.

Fusion Unlimited’s Core Web Vitals – Core Web Vitals data retrieved via a proprietary tool. Our proprietary tool can be tailored for any site in order to pull core web vitals data for all URLs within a site, giving us control over the data that we have access to and allowing us to analyse site performance at a much more granular level.

We also include all other metrics included within Google’s Page Experience criteria.

What Goes Into Each Report?

Summary

We provide an overall site summary on how the site performs across all Page Experience factors, along with recommendations on how to prioritise any metrics which require optimisation. 

We also provide a breakdown of how each metric is currently performing on the site for each Page Experience factor.

Core Web Vitals Pages

We have pages within our report dedicated to providing a deep-dive into each of the Core Web Vitals metrics (FID, LCP, CLS). Within these pages, we will provide the performance of each page which has been tested and display the pages which are currently receiving the poorest performance. 

Want to See For Yourself?

Since Google announced back in May this year that page experience would become such a key factor, we’ve been working with brands from a wide range of sectors throughout the country to ensure they’re aware of their own performance and what they need to do before May 2021 to benefit from the update.

If you’d like to stay ahead of the game, get in touch with the team today to request your own free report at hello@fusionunlimited.co.uk.