Google adjusts its algorithm regularly to ensure that searches are as smart as they can be, but it can be difficult for digital marketers to keep up with the changes. This time, they’ve added a brand-new ranking factor into the mix: page experience. If that concept has you scratching your head, then read on in our series of posts detailing what this means, and how you can take advantage.
Google’s New Algorithm, Page Experience, and You
You probably already know a little about the value of UX. “User experience has always been a essential part of building the best site out there, but now, it will play an even bigger role in helping you build awesome sites for your customers.” Google has been attributing weight to this concept since 2010 when they stressed that site speed would play a major role in ranking, since it plays a major role in general user experience. However, since then, they’ve only done more and more to ensure designers and marketers are working toward that goal.
The “page experience update,” as it’s called, “looks at a variety of new or updated metrics” in addition to simple user experience. Load time is no longer the only standard to which our websites are held. Your site has to let users accomplish their tasks and reach their goals quickly, but it also has to create a deeper level of engagement with your content than ever before.
What are “Core Web Vitals?”
This May, Google announced its Web Vitals, which help to figure out how you can improve the user experience on your site. The “Core Web Vitals” are exactly what they sound like: the main tenets of these metrics that are most important when working on the user experience. Those focal points include “loading, interactivity,” and “visual stability.”
What do these three factors mean in a little more detail? Loading deals with how quickly it takes for the “largest content element you see in the viewport to load.” It’s also referred to as “Largest Contentful Paint,” which…we know, sounds pretty funny. The next deals with how long it takes for the browser to, after being triggered by user action, respond (such as when you click a button). This one is called “First Input Delay,” a name which gets right to the point. Finally, “Cumulative Layer Shift” “measures the percentage of the screen affected by movement,” so they’d be looking for how much the view is shifted by animated or jumping elements on the page.
The bottom line with these metrics is to minimize frustration by helping users to get where they’re going as quickly and easily as possible without encountering stopping points that may occur as a result of a slow load or wonky element.
Start Small in your Page Experience Efforts
Don’t think that your work in the past to get things in good shape for user experience are worthless now! Google, fortunately, is using these new factors in combination with older ones in order to judge websites. These three have certainly come to the forefront and should be the focus of your efforts, but there’s not necessarily a need to start from scratch.
Where do you get started, then? Back to basics: make sure your website is secure (HTTPS) and mobile-friendly, for one thing. Of course, this doesn’t mean that a great user experience is the only thing you should focus on; you might have that nailed down, but you’ll still need to do things like produce great content to continue to keep your audience engaged. As with all things online, these pieces all fit together to make for one good, unified browsing experience for your users. Or…they should.
If you need help wrapping your head around Google’s page experience metrics, then get in touch with Eyler Creative today!