The Google Page Experience Update

Google’s mission is to provide its users with information that best satisfies their information needs. Thus, one of the most important signals for Google is if the end user has a positive experience in their search journey. If your site’s content satisfies the information need and provides a good page experience for the user, your website will be rewarded with better rankings.

In recent weeks, Google announced that in May 2021 they will release an update to their search ranking algorithm. This update affects how it evaluates the ‘page experience’ of websites, while also adding visual indicators in search results to highlight sites that have a great page experience. This allows Alliant and other search marketers a window of about 2 months to perform key optimizations to their websites and ensure we’re providing the best user experience to searchers.

What is Page Experience?

Google uses a set of signals to detect whether users are likely to have a positive site and content browsing experience. These signals consist of how quickly a page loads (page speed) to give users what they want quickly and easily in the moment, if the page renders properly on mobile devices, if the site has secure encryption and does not pose

a security threat, and if the site has any disruptive pop-ups or interstitials. All of these fall under what Google calls Page Experience signals. Within these signals, Google is introducing a set of new metrics related to page speed that are called Core Web Vitals. These metrics look specifically at load times for the main content elements on a page, load times before a page is ready for user interaction (i.e. clicks, scrolling), and the

extent to which content elements shift positionally on a page as it loads and renders. You may reference the diagram below that illustrates the Page Experience signals.

What Does This Mean?

Although page speed has always been a key factor for SEO marketers, the new Core Web Vitals provides additional and clear metrics for how we should optimize page load times.

Additionally, the introduction of a visual indicator in search results will notify users that certain pages have been determined by Google to offer a positive page experience. Google is no stranger to providing users with such icons, with previous examples including AMP icons, PageRank, mobile-friendly labels, and more. Nothing has been detailed yet on what this visual indicator will look like but there is some testing going on and we expect to see the label to be rolled out with the updates in May 2021. The new label is likely to be interpreted by users as a “seal of approval” by Google and therefore its presence or absence can have a substantive impact on clickthrough rates on search results.

What Does This Mean for Brands?

Brands can prepare for the upcoming updates by prioritizing efforts to improve page speed for important landing pages that drive traffic, revenue and conversions. This includes identifying pages with longer load times (optimizing the file weights of images and animation, and removing unnecessary code from pages. The Core Web Vitals report in Google Search Console is also an excellent place to start understanding how your site is performing in these areas.

The Unnamed Google Algorithim Update

The Unnamed Google Update

On the week of March 13th there was chatter in the SEO community about a possible Google update which turned out to be true. This unnamed update was confirmed by Danny Sullivan at Google via Twitter. Danny stated that Google had released a broad core algorithm update which they do several times a year but this update had the community on fire as many noticed volatilities in the SERPs.

Why Did Google Update Their Algorithm?

Google is not perfect however the machines have gotten very good at understanding what users want to see (intent) and providing users with the most relevant results based on their intent. Google uses end user data and elicit feedback from end users to determine intent and what results resonate well from an end user perspective.

This core algorithm update is just another way for Google to remove the junk from the SERPs and provide end users with a positive search experience.

What Should You Do?

Google stated that there is nothing that you can do so the answer is quite simple. Carry   on with business as usual. Google did not provide any specifics about what changed with this core algorithm update but all brands should continue to act like a publisher and ….

  • Create high-quality and useful content for end users to consume that answers their questions in the moment
  • Provide users with a positive content experience across all devices and platforms which fast loading web pages
  • Be prepared for the mobile index which already started rolling out

How Can I tell if I’m Impacted by this Update?

  • Look at your average positions in Google Search Console and see if you have a decrease in average visibility for the keywords that drive traffic to your site.
  • Monitor your analytics to see if your site experienced a drop-in traffic pre- and post the algorithm update.
  • Check your SEO platform for any fluctuations in rankings or any third-party tools that you use to monitor rankings.

Summing Up

While we can’t provide a specific point of view on this because it is a core algorithm update and there is nothing you can do, brands must continue to follow Google’s guidelines, and practice ethical SEO and build quality sites with useful content that is helpful to end users.  A quality site helps Google with their mission i.e. organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.