Google’s New Page Experience Algorithm: What You Need to Know

Anyone paying attention to what’s going on in the world of digital marketing will know that on May 28th, 2020 Google announced that they will be changing how its algorithms index web pages. This big news… and we’re here to tell you why.

By now it’s obvious to even the most novice webmaster, or business owner with finite knowledge of online marketing, that if you want to attract the attention of browsers, you need to optimise their site so that Google will index pages favourably.

For anyone who’s left scratching their heads when a digital marketing professional starts talking about SEO, SERPs and CTRs wondering what it all means, here are some statistics that highlight the impact of search engine optimisation, search engine results pages and click-through rates:

On average, being indexed just one place higher will increase the number of people who click through to the page by almost 31%

When typing a search query into Google, 32% of all users click the number # 1 result in Google’s search index

So, what are we saying? Well, simply put, if your website isn’t optimised for Google you stand little to no chance of reaching your target audience. Don’t believe us? Consider this: less than 3% of browsers click the position # 10 ranked website on search results!

When Google announces an algorithm change, or how they will be indexing web pages in the future, anyone hoping to generate interest and especially revenue from their website needs to jump on it… if you don’t then expect pages on your website to plummet down the rankings!

What Is Page Experience?

Think back to the last time you visited a website and found yourself squinting to read copy that was obviously optimised for mobile or filled with out of context imagery. Perhaps the page took forever to load, or pop-ups advertising something you have zero interest in kept disrupting your experience.

Did you give up on the page and move on? We would have. This called bad user experience. Not offering visitors a good user experience is just as bad as saying ‘we don’t care about your intent’ or, worse for businesses, ‘we don’t want you to buy from us.’

Google has developed a set of metrics that aim to understand how a user will perceive their experience when browsing a page. There are several indexing factors that are taken into consideration.

These include if the website takes into account the mobile-friendly ranking algorithm, the speed update of 2018 if the site has added an SSL 2048-bit key certificate for a minor ranking boost, is the page content is just as accessible on mobile as it is on desktop and whether or not the website violates Google’s safe browsing policies. These are what Google calls Core Web Vitals.

Core Web Vitals Explained

In a nutshell, Core Web Vitals are real-time, user-centric metrics that assign page scores based on user experience. Factors like load time, interactivity and content stability are all used to provide an overview of how well the page performs.

The three metrics Google uses are:

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) which measures the loading performance. For a web page to provide good user experience, loading times should be no longer than 2.5 seconds from when the page first starts to load to when the entire page content is visible and accessible.

First Input Delay (FID) which measures interactivity. For a web page to provide good user experience, pages should have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) which measures visual stability. For a web page to provide a good user experience the CLS should be less than 0.1.

What does this all mean? When grouped together the LCP, FID and CLS form the backbone of how Google evaluates page user experience. Without these metrics, it would be impossible for the search engine to know how well or badly web pages are performing.

Why is this something you should know? Well, consider your own website. Does it load quickly? Does it respond quickly to visitor’s actions? Do visible elements load correctly within the template? If not, then your website is suffering from poor page experience.

Why Is This Update Important?

Which pages do you think Google wants to place at the top of its search engine index? Pages rich in code? Maybe pages chocked full of backlinks? Or could it be pages with pinpoint keyword relevancy? Nope. Google wants to rank the pages that users want to spend time on while interacting and digesting the content.

So, what do users want to find when they search Google? The best answers to their query. Let’s say users want to buy a new car, say a Toyota Corolla. When you type ‘Toyota Corolla’ into Google, the top organic results will be links to the Toyota website followed by independent dealership websites. Why? Google prioritises brand relevancy.

But, don’t take our word for it, here’s what Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google has stated about brands:

‘Brands are the solution, not the problem… brands are how you sort out the cesspool.’

Strong words.

As your brand grows, so too will your SEO traffic. But that’s old news. Here’s the trick… Most sites are not large brands and Google knows it. So, it doesn’t matter if you have a multi-national business employing hundreds of people or you’re a small SME, you can still index your pages well – if you know how to do it.

With Google adapting its algorithm to more closely align with user experience, businesses large and small have an opportunity to look at their sites and consider re-designing elements of or the whole site so that key pages are indexed higher.

By honing the user experience, removing any elements that may annoy or frustrate visitors, including pop-up ads, slow load times and ensuring plenty of content relevant to what the searcher is looking for, you’re putting yourself in a strong position… Google will recognise your authority and reward you!

The best news? The update won’t be rolled out until sometime in the middle of 2021. This gives businesses time to take advantage of a golden opportunity to revamp or redesign their site. Trust us, when the update rolls around in 2021 you’ll be glad you did!

It’s Time to Start Preparing

Now you may think that mid-2021 is a long time away and that you’ve got plenty of time to start updating your site. But, let us ask you this: since when did a year in the life of a busy business not fly by?

There may be no new ranking factors going live imminently and Google has given us time to adjust to their update, as they usually do. Forward planning is part of the bedrock of commercial success.

Now, it may seem presumptuous to talk about forward planning given the coronavirus pandemic and that businesses and economies are being kickstarted but undertaking a website audit in preparation for the bounce back would be prudent. Once you understand how your website pages are performing within Google search results you can make necessary adjustments and optimise the user experience.

Remember also, the work you do now could help you get a jump start on the competition when the economic status quo resumes.

What Impact Will the Update Have?

Right now, it’s difficult to accurately forecast how much of an impact this update will have. Statistics from previous Google updates, like Panda, initially impacted close to 12% of all Google search queries. BERT impacted 10% of search queries.

To what degree will the latest update have? We don’t know. We wish we could say, but it would be wrong to speculate. Suffice to say it will have an impact, but there’s also something that we all need to remember – content is still a defining factor in page – and website – authority.

Great content with poor page experience will still rank reasonably well on Google index. But great content and stellar user experience may just see your page shoot up the rankings. So, if you know that your website could do with better content and a more fluid user experience for visitors using desktop or mobile, now could be as good a time as any to update your website.

Jungle Marketing has the experience and the creativity to make sure that your website is prepared for the coming google algorithm update. If you’ve been thinking about updating your website or designing a whole new brand from scratch, our expert team can help you by designing a website with pages that are fit purpose when the new Google algorithm is rolled out.

If you’d like to learn more about Google updates, or have a query about any of the services we offer, get in touch today.

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