In just a few short weeks, Google is going to roll out its new “page experience” algorithm, fundamentally changing how websites rank in search results. Instead of rating pages on the number of inbound links or keywords they contain, the search giant says that it is now also going to consider things like how fast pages load.
These changes are spooking a lot of businesses. For years, brands have been investing in SEO to try to get their pages to rank higher. But thanks to the page experience algorithm changes, that will no longer be the overriding factor.
It’s worth pointing out, however, that page experience is not replacing existing ranking criteria. Instead, Google is just adding it to its already long list of known ranking factors. Businesses, however, will still need to consider it if they want their pages to perform.
Google’s hope is that the changes will improve the experience for users. It believes that people using its search engine want both relevant results and pleasant website experiences. And it’s probably right. So, from now on, brands’ website design needs to do both.
What’s New With Google’s Page Experiences?
Google’s page experiences update is going to make changes to the ranking algorithm based on several metrics.
The first concerns what it calls “core web vitals.” The idea here is that pages should provide a minimum level of experience to users in terms of stability and interactivity.
For instance, the first input delay should be less than 100 milliseconds. In other words, if a user clicks a button, the website must react in less than a tenth of a second. Longer than that, according to Google, is unacceptable.
The search giant also wants brands to look for ways to cut the time it takes for the largest contentful paint to occur. A good LCP, it says, is below 2.5 seconds.
Google also wants to put an end to content dancing around in users’ view screens as pages load. Its term for this – cumulative layout shift – should be less than 0.1 (something that you can measure using tools Google provides).
Besides changes to the core web vitals, we are also going to see alterations to its treatment of HTTP. Google now wants brands to use the more secure HTTPS connection to ensure end-to-end encryption of user data. It no longer wants to send its users to websites using the old standard, even if they are static sites that don’t ask for any user personal details.
Google also wants company websites to focus more on mobile-friendliness. Fundamentally, this means designing sites for mobile-first and then adapting them for desktop afterward, instead of the other way around.
Furthermore, the search giant is cracking down on what it calls intrusive interstitials. These are essentially popups (whether full-screen or not) that get in the way of primary content. Webmasters, therefore, need to think of new ways to get people to subscribe to their email newsletters. Try to avoid a heavy reliance on pop-ups if you can as Google is going to start taking this into account more and more.