Google's studies and industry research has shown that users prefer websites with a great page experience. Google is always looking at what factors to consider in ranking results, such as page load speed and mobile-friendliness.
Following a recent announcement launching Core Web Vitals (a set of metrics to help site owners measure user experience dimensions such as load time, interactivity, and the stability of content as it loads) Google has now provided details of an upcoming search ranking change that will incorporate these page experience metrics.
User Experience: A Complete Picture
A new signal is being introduced that Google says 'combines Core Web Vitals with our existing signals for page experience to provide a holistic picture of the quality of a user's experience on a web page'.
The search giant has said it will give six months' notice before rolling these changes out.
In addition, further page experience signals will be incorporated on a yearly basis as user expectations evolve and the ability for Google to measure more aspects increases.
While the emphasis here is certainly user experience, Google has said that having great content will still be the more important consideration: Google will seek to rank pages with the best overall information, even if the page experience isn’t the best of the best.
However, if all other factors are equal, page experience could be the deciding factor for your visibility.
Page Experience Ranking
So what's the idea beind this? Essentially, having a good experience enables people to achieve what the want to and a bad experience could stop someone finding the information they are seeking.
By adding page experience into the mix with all the other signals, the aim is to make it easier for people using websites to find what they're looking for.
An an example, one of the new Page Experience metrics is something called 'Cumulative Layout Shift' (CLS). CLS measures how frequently elements on your page move during the page load. When elements move it annoys users. So making your site faster will improve your CLS score.
What Do You Need To Do?
Google have added a new section to Search Console called 'Core Web Vitals' which reports on how your site performs against these new 'Page Experience' metrics. This report will tell you where you need to improve and how to implement those improvements.
Google has updated its tools such as Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights to enable website owners to better measure their own performance and improve page experience for their visitors.
What Will The Impact Be?
In summary, it is not known how much this will change things up but it will have an impact. Google has not said how much each factor is weighted, but they have confirmed 'a good page experience doesn't override having great, relevant content.'
If you need support making sure your SEO, content or website is adhering to the latest guidelines, give us a shout.