As you know, the Google ranking algorithm is continually updated to provide users with accurate results to their queries. The need for these updates comes from two different directions. One is the feedback given by users to the search results displayed by Google. The other is the constant fight against black hat SEO tactics, which attempt to bring pages with low quality content among the first search results.
Usually, the Google ranking algorithm gets a huge number of changes. For instance, in 2018 Google made no less than 3234 updates to the algorithm. For 2021, we know of one big update that will roll out early in the first quarter: page experience signals.
What Is Page Experience?
Page experience represents a sum of factors that help the user find the information they are looking for quickly and without any impediments. These factors are:
- Website security
- Page load speed
- Responsive design
- Ease of use.
Google places great importance on user satisfaction in each phase of the process of searching for information. Thus, the page experience signals will determine whether the websites it displays among the top results are built to ensure the best user experience.
How Will Page Experience Be Measured in the New Google Ranking Algorithm?
So far, Google has revealed a schematic presentation of the way page experience will be included among the other ranking algorithms factors.
The list contains seven items described as Search Signals for Page Experience:
- Loading – Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
- Interactivity – First Input Delay (FID)
- Visual stability – Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
- Mobile friendly
- Safe browsing
- HTTPS present
- No Intrusive Interstitials.
Out this list, the first three elements are defined as Core Web Vitals and we will present a short description of each.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) is a metric for loading performance. It measures the time it takes to render the largest element of the page (an image, in general). A good value for LCP is 2.5 seconds after the page starts loading.
First Input Delay (FID) measures the interval between the first interaction of the user (a click or a tap) and the moment when the browser responds to this interaction. The value of FID should be kept under 100 milliseconds.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) is a metric for visual stability. It ranges between 0 and 1 and indicates how much the web page changes during loading (the shift and movement of various elements, such as images or text boxes). The ideal value of CLS is less than 0.1.
Steps You Must Take to Improve the Page Experience Signals of Your Website
Now that you know the upcoming changes to the Google ranking algorithm, it’s time to act. Audit your website and make sure that it has optimal page experience. The main aspects you should check and correct are:
1. Improve Page Load Speed
We will never stop giving this advice: make sure your website loads fast. It is not only Google you need to be concerned with, but visitors as well. They are no longer disposed to wait for a slow web page to load. They know there are other options – your competitors’ websites.
To make your website load faster, you have several options:
- Reduce file size for images
- Disable unnecessary plugins and addons
- Compress the website code
- Use a fast loading theme for your website.
In extreme cases, you should consider upgrading your hosting package or migrating your website to a different hosting provider.
2. Reduce 400 Errors
400 errors are a family of page loading errors, including the infamous 404 – Page Not Found. Check your sitemap, the way pages link to one another, the URL structure and eliminate all errors.
To identify these errors faster, you can use various online tools, such as DeadLinkChecker.com.
3. Compare Your Website against Competition
Benchmarking is standard practice in all industries and niches. It means comparing your own performances against an accepted standard or against the competition. In this case, you will compare the page experience of your website against your competitors’ websites.
To do so, use tools such as SEMRush or Ubersuggest.
4. Analyse the Way Visitors Interact with Your Website
Last but not least, you need to understand how your visitors use your website and find ways to improve their experience on the page. You can use a tool such as CrazyEgg to obtain:
- Heatmaps, showing what your visitors click on in each page
- Scroll maps, to see how much your visitors scroll down the page before leaving it
- Information on the number of clicks on each page element.
You may have used this kind of tool for optimising landing pages, but it is just as useful for improving your web page experience in view of the upcoming Google ranking algorithm update.