2021 Google Algorithm Update: Double Down on User Experience Now
Google’s relentless pursuit of the highest-quality search results led them to take matters into their own hands in 2020 with the launch of Core Web Vitals, a subset of factors that will be part of Google’s new “page experience” score.
If you are new to page experience, this is Google’s algorithm for separating the wheat from the chaff. This is the algorithm that determines what is and isn’t a high-quality website – and it is wholly based on factors Google decides. A professional web design and SEO agency will always take this into account
Here’s what Google has to say about page experience:
“Page experience is a set of signals that measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its pure information value. It includes Core Web Vitals, which is a set of metrics that measure real-world user experience for loading performance, interactivity, and visual stability of the page. It also includes existing Search signals: mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS, and intrusive interstitial guidelines.”
As a webmaster, it is your responsibility to make sure your website satisfies Google’s criteria for page experience.
As annoying as this may be, it is essential. Page experience will be rolled out as a ranking signal in June 2021. The update is estimated to be completed in August 2021, affecting all of Google’s search results across all devices.
What to do
The first thing you should do is run the Page Experience report in Webmaster Tools if you have it integrated into your website.
If you don’t have Webmaster Tools or the Page Experience Report shows no data, there are two other tools you can use to see if your site is up to scratch:
Lighthouse is the only tool you need to check if your website meets Google’s standards for page experience. It measures your site against Core Web Vitals and other criteria, including accessibility, best practices, SEO and progressive web app. Lighthouse has the same tests as PageSpeed Insights (see below) but is more comprehensive.
Page speed is essential for page experience and PageSpeed Insights reports on the lab and field performance of a page on both mobile and desktop devices. Use it to check if your website meets Google’s performance criteria. You want to achieve a performance score that is orange and ideally green on desktop and mobile.
Google Page Experience Signal and SEO
Google has identified five basic ranking signals for page experience:
Core Web Vitals
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) )
- First Input Delay (FID) )
- No intrusive interstitials
Core Web Vitals
You can measure your website for these metrics with PageSpeed Insights. Detailed descriptions of them can be found here.
Google is estimated to begin rolling out Core Web Vitals as a ranking signal in June 2021. It is essential that you get your website up to scratch.
If you don’t meet the requirements of Core Web Vitals, Google’s algorithm will discount your website as high-quality, and you will underperform in search. You will be overtaken by competitors who have taken the time to do what Google wants.
You can check if your website is mobile-friendly with this Google tool. It will give you a simple answer: yes or no. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, it will need to be designed with a responsive design that fits all displays.
You can check if your website is safe with this Google tool. If a Google evaluation determines that your site was hacked, or that it exhibits behaviour that could harm a visitor or their computer, your website will be delisted.
HTTPS serves your website over a secure connection. You can meet this criterion by getting an SSL certificate from your web host. You can tell if a website has an SSL certificate because the URL starts with HTTPS. It has been a ranking signal since 2014.
No intrusive interstitials
Intrusive interstitials are elements on a webpage that make content less accessible. Examples include pop-ups, dialogue boxes, poorly integrated chat icons and intrusive ads. It has been a ranking signal since 2017.