As we have already said in this space, Google wants researchers to be happy with the results provided by its algorithm. This will keep them in the world of Google, away from Bings and DuckDuckGos.
When you rate searchers’ happiness, you should consider the “experience” they have of submitting their queries and asking Google to respond to them in a satisfactory manner. That’s what the New Year will bring when Google rolls out its latest update to its search algorithm, titled Google Page Experience. In the simplest way of looking at it, this upcoming update will ensure that sites that are user-friendly will rank higher than sites that are not.
Since we’re all excited that the worthless year of 2020 is about to become past, let’s see how the Google Page Experience update will change site rankings in 2021.
How will Google measure « experience »?
Since everyone has been fundamentally locked out and unable to lead normal lives, Google has decided to delay this update until 2021, and the company has provided more information on what the update will involve. The idea is to let businesses adjust their websites to meet the new criteria.
What are these criteria? Google says user experience will be measured by a new set of metrics called Core Web Vitals. Much of this won’t be new, as you would expect. After all, page rankings have always been about making searchers happy. But that quantifies them a bit. These metrics seek to understand how a user will perceive the experience he or she has with a web page. They will take into account if the page loads quickly, if it is mobile-friendly, if it works over HTTPS, if it does not contain intrusive ads, and if the content loads without skipping when items change places.
Basic web vitals
These are the specific factors that Google will take into account when measuring a page’s experience with the user.
- The largest content-rich painting (LCP) – This measures charging performance. A good site should have its main content loaded within 2.5 seconds of starting the page load.
- First entry delay (FID) – This measures the time between when a user first interacts with a page and when the browser is actually able to begin processing event handlers in response to that interaction. A good site should have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
- Cumulative offset of the layout (CLS) – This is the stability of the elements on the page. For example, you try to click a link deeper on the page, but then an ad pushes the page down and you click on the ad, which was not your intention. It can be very annoying, and pages that constantly load pop-ups, video boxes, and other junk files contain a lot of CLS. Google wants less. To be a good experience, a site needs a CLS score of less than 0.1.
- Mobile friendly – Mobile-friendly sites don’t try to load the desktop design in a mobile format, which makes the site almost unusable. If well designed, your site should have different characteristics when opened on a mobile device.
- Safe navigation – The page does not contain malicious or deceptive content. No malware. No click bait.
- HTTPS – The page is delivered via HTTPS.
- No intrusive interstitials – These are various layout elements that prevent the user from accessing the content. For example, a pop-up that covers the main content of the page is intrusive. Showing a standalone interstitial that the user should ignore before accessing the main content is also a no-no. There are exceptions for musts. For example, if a site has to tell you that it is using cookies, these popups are not punished. Ditto for legal verification and the like.
When will the Google page experience go into effect?
Google has delayed this update due to the upside down world created by COVID-19. He said he would give six months’ notice before posting this update. It’s unclear what percentage of searches this update will affect. For example, the BERT update impacted 1 in 10 queries. Chances are it will have a noticeable impact, however, because Google considers these criteria to be very important for the user experience.
We already do that
If you’re a part of our Advice Media practices, to quote Stevie Wonder, “Don’t worry about a thing” with this new update to Google Page Experience. Why? We already track each of these criteria for every site we build. Whether it’s fast load times or not allowing clutter to move things around, from every site we build being HTTPS to every mobile-friendly site from the first design stage – we believe building only the best, easiest to use, most informative, best functional websites on the web. This is because we were building and optimizing sites for the medical world long before the term search engine optimization became a thing. This is not our first rodeo.
So if you are a client, this algorithm update should be a perfect fit for your practice website. If you’re not a customer, don’t you want a site that Google says provides a great user experience? Call us at (435) 575-7470 or fill out our contact form and let’s talk.