What You Need to Know About Google’s Page Experience Update

open laptop with Google homepage

When it comes to website optimization, developing and implementing a strong SEO strategy is imperative. Relevant, high-value content, keywords, and backlinks are all part of an effective SEO plan that can help increase your site's visibility and opportunities for conversion, but what's gaining even more attention is the overall user experience.

Last November, Google announced that page experience will become a ranking factor in Google Search. This “page experience update”—scheduled to launch between June and August of this year—will now become part of Google’s ranking algorithm along with other search metrics to measure and rank the overall responsiveness and experience of websites. 

To help you get a better understanding of what to expect, we worked with our in-house SEO experts to bring you the information you will need to prepare for the changes.

The diagram below shows how the factors will rank with this update.

Diagram of Core Web Vitals ranking
Source: Wordstream.com

What is the new update?

The new page speed algorithm aims to reward websites that have a strong page experience. The gradual rollout, beginning mid-June, will measure page experience by leveraging a site’s security, mobile-friendliness, and Core Web Vitals (CWV)—a set of metrics related to speed, responsiveness, and visual stability that are designed to help site owners measure the user experience in real-time.

There are three key metrics to CWV:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): measures perceived load speed
  • First Input Delay (FID): measures responsiveness
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): measures visual stability

Image of key metric for core web vitals

Source: Search Engine Journal

According to Google, these measure aspects of web usability. Optimizing for these factors helps sites evolve, creating a better overall experience for users. 

Why does it matter?

If it takes longer than three seconds for a page to load, users will likely leave your page for a competing site. Longer load times have a severe effect on bounce rates. For example, if the page load time increases from:

  • 1 second to 3 seconds, the bounce rate increases 32%
  • 1 second to 6 seconds, bounce rate increases by 106%

47% of users expect a site to load in less than three seconds. Sites that take three seconds or longer lose almost half of their visitors before they even land on the site. Several case studies have shown that decreasing page load time increased conversions by anywhere from three to 17 percent. 

One step to improving your site’s load times is to test your site using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights. It will prompt you to enter the URL and after a few minutes you will receive a score that looks like this:

Screenshot of website scoring

Google will also provide insights on how to improve your load times, such as:

  • A/B testing
  • Changing ads on your site
  • Testing on different devices
  • Anti-virus software
  • Browser extensions that inject JavaScript, which can add or modify network requests 

What is included in the update?

One major difference you might notice is that accelerated mobile pages (AMP) are no longer an eligibility requirement for the Top Stories Carousel. Any page, regardless of its CWV score or page experience status, will be eligible. Additionally, Google will no longer display the AMP icon to denote AMP content.

To provide more actionable insights, Google will provide a new report in Google Search Console. This report combines existing CWV reports with other page experience signals like mobile-friendliness, HTTPS security, and safe browsing status. The report will also offer helpful information, such as the percentage of URLs with good page experience and search impressions over time, allowing site owners to evaluate their performance and gain helpful insights on improvement. 

Image of website analytics with a good page experience

Source: Google

How can you prepare?

While Google’s page experience ranking update is meant to highlight pages that offer a quality user experience, there’s no need to make any drastic moves—the changes will not be immediate. Google is using this phased approach to monitor any unintended issues that may arise. 

Maintaining good SEO hygiene and incorporating user experience best practices are always good habits to get into, leaving you prepared for whatever changes Google throws your way in the coming months and years. 

If you need assistance with your website amidst this change, please contact us about SEO or DevOps services.