According to NONPROFITDICTIONARY, the way in which Google sorts websites on the Internet will change in June 2021: Since then, the page experience has been the new ranking factor in the complicated Google algorithm. The Page Experience is closely related to the Core Web Vitals from Google and includes modern aspects – such as security and mobility – of the websites in the ranking.
Ranking factor page experience
Originally, the page experience was supposed to flow into the results as a signal for the ranking at an earlier point in time. The spread of Corona was the reason for the postponement from an official point of view. After all, this delay gave those responsible for websites and SEO agencies more time to understand the page experience and possibly adapt their own website to the changes. The result is a new value that bundles all previous metrics and is intended to make the quality of websites understandable for people at a glance.
What is the Page Experience in detail?
It is not about a single new function, but about the accumulation of various aspects that are now bundled into one value: the page experience. As the name suggests, it is primarily about the experience that real, human users have on a website. For example, Google checks the following areas:
- Interactivity: This point means the First Input Delay, which comes from the Core Web Vitals (more on this later). How fast can the user interact with a website? Is it a sluggish or responsive website?
- Loading time: The Largest Contentful Paint examines how quickly web pages load. Lower loading times lead to a better result.
- Visual stability: The last area from the Core Web Vitals, the Cumulative Layout Shift, relates to the ability of a website to keep the layout as stable as possible even with user interaction.
These sub-aspects are bundled with other, smaller aspects: Is the source code of a website clean and error-free and therefore safe for users? Is HTTPS used as encryption? Is the site set up mobile-friendly? Is there interstate advertising, i.e. advertising that is superimposed on the content and thus interrupts the use of the website? All of these signals flow together into the factor of the page experience. To what extent this happens exactly, Google will continue not to make publicly available.
Refinement of the algorithm in the foreground
All of the points mentioned for determining a ranking value are not new, as Google has been taking account of loading time and HTTPS for a long time. However, the way in which which aspect is weighted changes in the new Page Experience value. Google still does not allow an insight into the exact algorithm (which is smart to prevent overly strong optimization on machines), but the ranking factors are at least clearly named. It remains to be seen whether Google will publish a report on any changes every year.
What are Core Web Vitals as part of the Page Experience?
In order to be able to go into the page experience in more detail, an understanding of the core web vitals is also important. Google introduced this back in May 2020 and uses it to describe the three aforementioned points First Input Delay, Largest Colorful Paint and Cumulative Layout Shift. How exactly these flow into the algorithm, Google will change every year in order to meet new technical possibilities and a changed usage behavior.
A brief overview provides clarity:
- Largest Colorful Paint (LCP) measures the loading time of the core content on a website. Everything up to 2.5 seconds is rated as good, between 2.5 and 4 seconds there is room for improvement. Anything from 4 seconds upwards is considered a poor result.
- The First Input Delay (FID) measures the responsiveness of a website. If less than 100 milliseconds elapse between the action of the user with the interface and the reaction of the website in the browser, this is a good value. 100 to 300 milliseconds are in need of improvement, 300 milliseconds and more are considered a weak value.
- The Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) is always calculated when users interact with websites and this results in changes to the layout. Moving menus or page elements that appear in unexpected places are poison for this value. This artificial value is considered good up to 0.1 and acceptable up to 0.25 – more will not be tolerated.
These three values, including the four less important aspects already mentioned, result in the page experience.
Page experience for SEO tasks
The ranking factor potentially expands the area of responsibility of the SEO service provider. Not only the content is now in the foreground, but everything that a website offers. From now on, it will probably no longer stop at improving existing content or integrating new content. Instead, technical subtleties or points such as UX and usability on mobile devices must also be taken into account. SEO agencies could therefore go through a change from content producers to all-round providers who monitor all areas of the page experience. Improvements to a website that were carried out privately also take up a larger extent.
Improvement of the page experience
Since page experience becomes a cumulative factor for the evaluation of websites in the search index, it makes sense to improve this value as much as possible. A few simple tasks will help you get on the right track:
- A user-friendly website that can be easily persuaded to interact quickly on all devices is paramount. Nested web pages that frequently change their layout during the loading time have a negative effect on the CLS.
- If you are interested, Google will provide the CWV report in the Search Console. This allows you to better adapt your own website to the needs of Page Experience and to find existing gaps.
Users who like to lend a hand can also take a look at the Page Experience Guide. He can help to convert your own website and to tackle the most important construction sites first.
The user in the foreground
According to Google, all of the factors that flow into the new search metric were designed with the human user in mind. Short loading times, a uniform layout or the use of more security on websites are areas that benefit people first. Since this also has a positive effect on the number of visitors to websites, it can be assumed that page experience will establish itself as an indicator of the quality of a website in the long term. Experts say that the new factor will fundamentally change the tasks in the area of search engine optimization.