SEO News: Page Experience Becomes a Ranking Factor in May 2021
Google announced (opens in a new tab) that your page’s Core Web Vitals will become a ranking factor for Google from May 2021 on.
We already knew this was going to happen at some point, we just didn’t know when.
Apparently, increased traction for their Lighthouse and Page Speed Insight tools, and the Google Search Console (“GSC” for short) Core Web Vital report was an indicator that the search community was ready for this change.
What are Page Experience signals?
Page Experience signals encompasses both Core Web Vitals, and existing User Experience ranking factors such as Mobile Friendliness, Safe Browsing, HTTPS and not having annoying interstitials.
Now, Google merges the existing User Experience ranking factors with the new Core Web Vitals into a new ranking factor category called “Search signals for page experience” as illustrated below:
Is that it?
Burried a little further down in the announcement, Google writes:
In addition to the timing updates described above, we plan to test a visual indicator that highlights pages in search results that have great page experience.
That basically means that Google’s going to show what pages provide a good user experience in its SERP.
As you can imagine, this may lead to a big shift in increased click-through-rates for pages providing a good user experience, which will also result in improved rankings as this is a clear sign to Google that its users have a preference for one page over another.
Not only will users see what information they can expect on a page, soon they’ll also be able to see what kind of user experience they can expect.
Now, is that all?
Ha, no. Burried even deeper, Google announces:
The change for non-AMP content to become eligible to appear in the mobile Top Stories feature in Search will also roll out in May 2021. Any page that meets the Google News content policies will be eligible and we will prioritize pages with great page experience, whether implemented using AMP or any other web technology, as we rank the results.
Yes, you read this right.
Starting May 2021, non-AMP content will be able to show up in the mobile Top Stories carrousel. For publishers that heavily rely on organic traffic, this is big news.
How can you prepare for this update?
First of all, make sure you’ve got the existing user experience ranking factors covered:
Providing a mobile-friendly experience (opens in a new tab)
- Test if your site is mobile-friendly (opens in a new tab)
- Check GSC’s Mobile-friendliness report (opens in a new tab)
- Safe browsing (opens in a new tab)
- HTTPS (opens in a new tab)
- Page Speed (opens in a new tab)
- Not having annoying interstitials (opens in a new tab)
Do a quick check with ContentKing to see if all of your pages served over a secure connection!
While Google doesn’t list satisfying search intent as a ranking factor, we do. While it’s not as binary as the factors above, it’s the most important ranking factor in providing a good user experience.
After you’ve got the basics covered, start digging into Core Web Vitals. While the name may sound cryptic, Google’s description provides more insight:
A set of metrics related to speed, responsiveness and visual stability, to help site owners measure user experience on the web.
Make sense right?
Now it’s time to dig in more, starting with the web.dev documentation (opens in a new tab). And after that, by seeing your site’s current Core Web Vital performance in GSC (opens in a new tab), which will really make them come to life for you.
Learning more about Core Web Vitals and User Experience in search
Follow these people on Twtter:
- Jamie Indigo (opens in a new tab)
- Aleyda Solis (opens in a new tab), also check out her list of tools and guides (opens in a new tab) on this topic!
- Samuel Schmitt (opens in a new tab)
- Lily Ray (opens in a new tab)
- Chris Johnson (opens in a new tab), also check out his Chrome Extension (opens in a new tab) to see Core Web Vital metrics directly in Google’s SERP.
- Rachel Costello (opens in a new tab)
- Ilya Grigorik (opens in a new tab)
- ContentKing (opens in a new tab)
- Renata Gwizdak (opens in a new tab)
- Google Search Central (opens in a new tab)
- Google’s Page Experience Update and Core Web Vitals: Everything you need to know (opens in a new tab)
- 7 Tips to Improve Your Core Web Vitals Scores & Page Experience Signals (opens in a new tab)
- Winning at SEO with great User Experience
- What is Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), And How To Optimize It (opens in a new tab)
You’ve got roughly 6 months to prepare for this update, good luck!
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