As website designers and managers know, Google updates the way it indexes sites frequently – although the majority of updates generally go unnoticed.
These regular changes to the Google algorithm (the system they use to rank websites and content), such as the move towards a more mobile-friendly position, are typically designed to improve the search experience of their search users.
In short, delivering the best results based on the search intent of the user.
Last year Google announced a major update to the algorithm – The Page Experience Core Web Vitals update – which is a significant revision on how websites are measured, ranked and indexed by Google.
With a focus on the page experience, Google has evolved to promote websites that deliver the best possible user experience.
The Core Web Vitals Page Experience Google Update will start to roll out in mid-June and is in simplicity, designed to ensure better search results for the end-user.
The Page Experience Core Web Vitals update was, unusually, announced well in advance. It is considered a significant change to the Google search system and likely to impact the vast majority of websites.
Although it is accepted you should not ‘chase the algorithm’, being aware of these changes and implementing what are, in truth, beneficial improvements for your site visitors will only increase your brand authority and user page experience.
What exactly is the Core Web Vitals Page Experience Update?
In simple terms, Google rewards user-friendly websites that provide top-quality, relevant content throughout all pages, with higher rankings – irrespective of brand size and volume of brand search queries.
User page experience should form an integral priority element of your existing SEO/content strategy.
For example, You should identify site pages with a high bounce rate (visitors leaving a page within a very short time), as retaining site visitors on the page indicates a good page experience delivering the required relevant content.
Why does the Core Web Vitals update matter?
The Core Web Vitals are a set of user-centric metrics Google will use to measure and indicate how users experience a page.
Numerous surveys suggest that, on average, 60 per cent of brand content is considered inadequate – irrelevant – and fails to deliver.
With Core Web Vitals, there will be more focus on:
- User Experience;
- User Interaction and Satisfaction;
- Page Speed and Interactivity; and
- Removal of Intrusive interstitials (annoying and unnecessary pop-ups)
What is more important Content or Page Experience?
Relevant, high-quality content that meets search queries is still crucial to impactful SEO.
Page experience does not replace quality content – both are equally as important.
Why will Page Experience matter?
Your site visitors are looking for a fast user experience.
Users want web pages to load quickly, be mobile-friendly, intuitive, and accessible.
Delivering a quality page experience will impact engagement with site visitors and improve your search authority and ranking.
What are the three Core Web Vitals?
Google defines the three main elements as:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
Usability. How quickly above the fold page content loads and delivers the largest pieces of content?
Does the page display content for users to engage with?
- First Input Delay (FID)
Usefulness. How quickly the loaded page becomes interactive. First Input Delay is critical for user experience and measures when a user clicks a link, and the browser responds to that interaction.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Stability. The CLS metric measures how stable a site is.
Please note: The recommendations below are, by necessity, technical in nature and will require a degree of technical web design and SEO expertise.
It would be best to refer to your website designers/third party agency for an initial assessment or contact the author for further support.
How can I improve Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)?
The primary technical areas of concern are:
- Slow and non-optimised servers;
- Render-blocking scripts and CSS files;
- The load times of specific assets; and
- Relying heavily on unoptimized client-side rendering
How can I improve First Input Delay (FID)?
Examples of how to improve FID include:
How can I improve Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)?
The most effective ways to improve CLS relate to on-page visual media content, placement techniques, and web fonts.
Examples of how to quickly improve CLS include:
- Ensuring all images have the correct dimensions specified;
- Consideration of ad placement, iframes, and embeds;
- Avoiding the insertion of dynamic content above existing content; and
- Pre-loading of the essential web fonts to avoid layout shifting.
Doing nothing is NOT an Option. Do not ignore this update.
What actions can you take now?
- Audit your website
There are numerous ways to audit your website to identify elements that may be problematic for a quality page experience.
- Google Analytics/Google Search Console;
- Google Chrome DevTools/UXReport/Lighthouse;
- Image Compression/Optimisation;
- A Content Audit; and
- Specialist SEO software analysis.
- Improve Page Load Speed
The faster your page loads, the better the user experience, which applies to both desktop and mobile.
An estimated 40 per cent+ of site visitors will leave a website that does not load after only three seconds.
Test your site with Googles Page Speed Insight Tool
- Optimize for Mobile
Make sure your site is easy and intuitive to use on mobile devices.
Can users find information, buy products/services, contact you.
- Design for mobile devices;
- Optimise mobile navigation;
- Consider larger size touch buttons; and
- Use smaller sized images
Use the Google mobile-friendly test
- Audit and Update Content
A positive user experience is influenced by the content on-page that delivers relevant, informative and engaging information to page visitors.
- Audit your content and update old blog posts, articles;
- Check grammar, typos, format, layout links;
- Use an accessibility checker;
- Review keywords/phrases/semantic themes and topics;
- Review Image ALT tags;
- Include clear calls-to-action; and
- Follow EAT and YMYL guidelines to deliver content relevant to search intent.
- Review how you use Ads and Images
All on-page elements must add value to the user experience with minimum distractions. Keep pop-ups to a minimum and remove any unnecessary or annoying pop-ups.
- Safe and Secure Website
Safety and security are paramount.
- Use Google Search Console to check Security Issues Report;
- All sites should have an SSL (secure socket layer) certificate for HTTPS; and
- Check your site is Safe to Visit.
- Competitor Review
Check your top online competitors and learn from their successes:
- What could you do better;
- What content topics or themes can you add and publish;
- What type of content works best, video, images, word; and
- How can you create better quality content?
- Educate and Understand
Don’t dismiss this update as just another Google algorithm update. This is a significant revision on how websites will achieve authority and ranking.
Users want web pages to load quickly, be mobile-friendly, and intuitive.
Page experience can deliver both positive and negative emotion about a brand.
Take action and ensure a positive outcome.