30 second summary:
- The Google Page Experience metric will go live in 2021.
- Reward pages that provide a better user experience.
- The signal measures the performance, security, and usability of a site.
- To prepare for 2021, get a fast web hosting service, optimize your content for mobile users and install security measures (firewall, SSL, etc.).
- Avoid pop-ups and full-screen banners that restrict visitor access to content.
The latest search ranking benchmark used in the Google development lab is the Google Page Experience metric.
In short, this upcoming metric is aimed at measuring (and rating) the overall responsiveness and user experience of websites that appear in Google's search results.
Google plans to roll out this metric alongside that current ranking factors. However, no exact date will be disclosed that this metric will go live.
As a developer of Google officially state on her blog:
"The ranking changes (Google page experience) described in this post will not be made until next year (2021). We will announce them at least six months before they are introduced."
You still have plenty of time to respond. However, we recommend planning in advance as soon as possible and implementing some of the best practices.
Let's take a look at what to expect from this ranking update and how to prepare your website from a search engine optimization (SEO) perspective.
Elements of the Google Page Experience Metric
Google is building the new metric mainly on the Core Web Vitals that their Chrome team started earlier this year.
The overall goal with Google metric for page experience aims to ensure that Google search users get a mobile-friendly, secure and uncomplicated surfing experience.
Let's look at each element that contributes to the page experience metric.
1. Core Web Vitals
Google developed the Core Web Vitals because the average user surfs the Internet quickly and seamlessly. They have one too Chrome User Experience ReportThis allows you to evaluate the current performance of your website based on these signals.
The Core Web Vitals consist of three separate signals:
- Biggest color in terms of content (LCP) – Speed of loading time of the largest piece of content.
- First entry delay (FID) – Response to user click, scroll, and tap.
- Cumulative layout shift (CLS) – visual stability of the page.
To check a box in each of these signals, your pages' LCP should be under 2.5 seconds, FID under 100 ms, and CLS under 0.1.
2. Mobile-friendly website
Google rightly prefers websites that are optimized for mobile users.
Research carried out by Statista shows that there are an estimated 3.5 billion smartphone users this year, with that number rising to 3.8 billion in 2021. It's safe to say that websites that are not optimized for mobile devices will miss a lot of traffic.
So it makes sense that Google only show mobile websites when it searches.
3. Safe surfing
Google is very concerned about security and removing potentially harmful websites from search results. If the top search results are hurting users, then Google is not looking good at all.
One of the signals with the upcoming page experience metric concludes that the indexed site contains malicious or misleading content. Some simple examples are malware, spyware, social engineering scams, and false information.
Take a look at this to get a feel for how this works Google Security Issues Report. You can also scan your website to see if there are any issues at this point.
After the security issue, Google also prefers secure websites with an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. The difference between http: // and https: // (the latter being SSL-protected) in the website's URL.
The role of the SSL certificate is to encrypt all data that is transferred between the user and the servers. Even if a cyber attack does occur, the hackers are unlikely to understand the data.
If you've used the Chrome browser, you might have received a security warning stating that the connection is not secure. This is mainly because the site lacks an SSL certificate.
5. No intrusive interstitials
Last but not least, Google aims to penalize websites that aggressively discourage visitors from quickly accessing the content they want.
The main culprits here are the popups that cover the entire screen, are difficult to close, or keep popping up while consuming the content.
Five steps to optimizing your website for 2021
Google's new page experience metric does not replace the current ranking elements. It becomes an added ranking factor, but the most important part from an SEO perspective is still the quality of the content.
Since the page experience metric affects ranking results, it is a good idea to know what to do to prepare for it.
Here are some steps you can take to prepare your site for 2021.
1. Get an excellent web hosting service
The performance of your website is already one of the most important ranking factors. Whether you have an internal server or use a hosting service, you should make sure that your website is fast and responsive.
You can analyze the responsiveness of your website with that of Google PageSpeed Insights Tool or use a website performance monitoring tool such as Pingdom.
In addition, you can review websites that are being collected and shared Performance data on web hosting providers.
2. Keep the size of your page
Images go hand in hand with today's websites. However, if you overcrowd your web pages with visual content, your website will slow down.
Depending on the nature of your website, there are several different ways to address this problem.
You can optimize and create your images to weigh less by using an image compressor such as ImageOptim. If your page is already content-intensive, consider spreading the largest elements across multiple pages of your website.
Alternatively, you can use a content delivery network (CDN) such as CloudFlare to cache your content closer to the visitor's access point.
3. Optimize your website for cell phones
As we have already proven, the world is moving rapidly towards mobile devices. It is not enough for your users to access your content with their smartphones. They also expect your site to adapt to the smaller screens.
Therefore, your website needs to be optimized for mobile devices.
The good news is that most modern website building platforms like WordPress already have platforms Mobile friendly templates This does not require any additional coding effort.
You can use to quickly test that your website is responsive to mobile devices Google's mobile-friendly test tool.
4. Install security measures
Website security definitely deserves a separate article that covers all of the basics. But let's just focus on Google's perspective.
Do not knowingly add malicious scripts or misleading content to your website.
Second, protect your site from malware and other hacking attempts by adding a firewall. It's not yet clear whether Google is checking your website for a firewall. You should have one though.
Finally, install an SSL certificate that will encrypt your data as Google is already monitoring whether or not a website is secure. However, most modern hosting services already include an SSL certificate in their plans.
Overall, it is worth investing in website security for security reasons and from an SEO perspective.
5. Reduce or remove large pop-up banners
Google considers anything that prevents its users from accessing the content they are looking for as disruptive.
Hence, a straightforward piece of advice: don't put a huge banner on your website. If you make the advertising more subtle, you won't have any problems with Google.
As a reminder, cookie information, age restriction guidelines and login dialogs are the exceptions. Please also don't go overboard for the sake of user experience.
Google's page experience metric will become one of the search ranking signals in 2021, but it doesn't have an exact start date yet.
However, you can prepare your site for the upcoming changes. While it is unclear how much weight this new metric has on search results, it is of significant value in itself to provide a great user experience for your visitors.
First, test the performance, security, and usability of your website. The results give you a pretty good idea of what to tweak and add to your website.
However, remember that the most important ranking factor is still the quality of the content.
Gert Svaiko is a professional copywriter who works primarily with digital marketing companies in the US and EU. You can reach him LinkedIn.