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Google’s Page Experience Update: Just The Facts

May 24, 2021 Sarah Cavill

The page experience signals ranking update that Google hinted at last fall will be rolling out in the coming weeks, with the tech company combining its existing search signals with Core Web Vitals. In November, Google explained the reason for introducing page experience signals as part of Google Search ranking: “These signals measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page and contribute to our ongoing work to ensure people get the most helpful and enjoyable experiences from the web.” The introduction of Core Web Vitals to the algorithm enhances Google’s commitment to giving users a great search experience, with content publishers rewarded for offering great user experiences (UX).

What Are The Core Web Vitals That Will Be Used By Google To Measure Page Experience?

The Core Web Vitals that will be scored as good, needs improvement or poor to indicate the quality of UX consist of three specific areas:

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): LCP measures how long it takes to render the “largest content element visible [ex. image or video] in the viewport, from when the user requests the URL,” with Google ranking only sites that take less than 2.5 seconds in the “good” category.

First Input Delay (FID): FID measures the time “a user first interacts with your page (when they clicked a link, tapped on a button and so on) to the time when the browser responds to that interaction.” This time measurement is particularly important for sites where actions are expected. Less than 100 milliseconds will land a site in the “good” category. 

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): CLS measures how often a page has an unexpected layout shift. Google considers repeated layout shifts a bad user experience, because layout shifts can negatively impact UX. For example, if a user goes to click on something while the page is shifting, the user can unintentionally click on the wrong thing and land somewhere undesirable.

The Google Core Web Vitals are in addition to existing UX ranking signals that include mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS and the absence of intrusive interstitials. 

Hasn’t Web Page Experience Always Been A Part Of Google’s Search Ranking?

Web page experience has been considered for Google search results rankings previously but with less overt measurement for content publishers. By clearly stating what Google believes makes a web experience valuable to users, Google is giving publishers the tools they need to prioritize UX for SEO, eliminating guesswork for website owners.

How May The Google Page Experience Updates Impact Website Owners?

Google search updates sometimes cause anxiety for website owners, who may find themselves focusing too heavily on the latest Google algorithm change. However, prioritizing a strong UX is always a good idea. And this time, with Google making the guidelines so explicit, website owners have clear guidelines to optimize user experiences for better Google search rankings. 

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Senior Marketing Communications Writer, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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