Google’s Page Experience Update, Explained
At full capacity, Optus Stadium holds 60,000 people.
Every second, Google receives 63,000 search queries.
Google owns more than 90% of the global search market and processes 5.6 billion searches per day.
Providing users with a seamless experience is fundamental to retaining their market dominance.
The latest algorithm changes focus on page experience as a ranking factor to:
- Give site owners and SEO companies a performance threshold
- Benchmark a great user experience
- Preference high-performing websites in search results
So what changed? And what do you, along with your SEO and digital marketing agency, need to do to ensure your site continues to appear in search results?
What does the Page Experience Update evaluate?
Users “prefer sites with great page experience”, according to Google.
(Yes, they actually conducted research to discover that earth-shattering factoid).
But the latest updates have defined and quantified what makes a good page experience, giving SEO companies a measurable benchmark.
The following “page experience signals” cover every aspect of how a user interacts with your site.
1. Core Web Vitals
Core Web Vitals are a set of metrics that measure site load speed, responsiveness and visual stability.
They reflect what Google believes is essential for delivering a good user experience.
You might have already seen Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID) and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) in Google Search Console.
Here’s what they mean – and why they matter.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): How long does your site take to load?
Largest Contentful Paint, sometimes called First Contentful Paint, scores your site based on how long the largest visual element takes to load.
- 0 to 2.5 seconds: Good
- 5 to 4 seconds: Needs improvement
- 4 seconds or longer: Poor
If your site receives a score of “needs improvement” or “poor” for Largest Contentful Paint, users are waiting too long.
This will increase your bounce rate and harm your ranking potential.
First Input Delay (FID): How quickly can users perform an action?
First Input Delay scores your site based on how long it takes for your site to become interactive.
- 0 to 100ms: Good
- 100 to 300ms: Needs improvement
- 300ms or longer: Poor
Longer wait times before users can click a button or submit a form mean a more frustrating user experience and lower conversion rates.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): How visually stable is your site?
Google has been tweaking the Cumulative Layout Shift scoring since the first Core Web Vitals update.
- 0-0.1: good
- 1-0.25: needs improvement
- 25+: poor
A poor Cumulative Layout Shift score means your site is visually unstable with elements that jump around, detracting from the user experience.
Google doesn’t want to rank websites that are not secure.
HTTPS security tells users (and therefore the Google search algorithm) that their data is secure.
If your site is not secure, meaning your URL starts with “HTTP” instead of “HTTPS”, you are almost certainly losing SEO opportunities.
Thankfully, a professional SEO company can quickly fix the problem to get you back on top of the rankings.
3. No intrusive interstitials
Intrusive interstitials are elements that block the user from accessing the content they came for:
- Pop-up boxes
- Form overlays
- Video players
- Hovering ads
They are called “interstitials” because they appear between pages or load before the main content.
Interstitials aren’t inherently evil.
When a pop-up, exit modal or banner helps a user access the right content or move further down the funnel, interstitials add to the user experience.
But intrusive interstitials that obstruct the user will increase frustration and decrease your SEO authority.
4. Bonus: Mobile-friendliness
Mobile-first design is not a ranking factor for desktop search.
But as a full-service SEO company, we would be remiss not to mention it here.
Given that most traffic comes from mobile devices, and the same experience signals apply to mobile search as desktop, a great user experience should consider cross-device browsing.
So, is the Page Experience Update good or bad?
Poor site experience might have indirectly impacted your ranking potential in the past.
But ever since metrics like Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay and Cumulative Layout Shift began showing up in Google Search Console, site owners and SEO companies have been on notice.
User experience is now a direct ranking factor.
Whether you love or loathe the user experience signals, you can’t afford to ignore them.
They are universal
To unify the user experience, the signals apply across all browsers and devices. They also apply to Top Stories.
They are not new
The changes began to appear in 2020 with the introduction of Core Web Vitals for mobile.
In 2022, Google added Core Web Vitals to their desktop ranking algorithms, along with HTTPS and interstitials.
They assume mobile-first
Although mobile usability is not a ranking factor for desktop sites, the experience signals expect sites to evolve towards a mobile-first experience as mobile makes up 66% of search traffic.
They help site owners and SEO companies
Content creators, developers, webmasters and anyone else providing SEO services should already be focused on providing your users (aka your customers) with the best possible experience.
A final word on Google’s 2022 Page Experience Update
The online experience is continually evolving.
For example, the Core Web Vitals measurements outlined earlier could change in the future as Google monitors user behaviour and site performance.
To avoid getting caught out when Google updates algorithms that directly affect your site’s ability to rank, your SEO company needs to be proactive and on the ball.
Google algorithm changes are like a new pair of boots: the break-in period is painful, and you trip over a lot, but the long-term comfort is worth it.
If your site falls short on page experience signals, it might be time to trade in your digital agency for Fisher Digital’s full-service SEO expertise.
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