Are you sitting down? We have some news. Google is changing things. We know you’re shocked. They only do that 3,000 times or more a year.
It’s true. Google likes to keep you guessing. So after a dumpster fire of a year where the economy has tanked and started to recover, Google decided it was a good time to completely rewrite the rules of what makes a good website. Is your site ready?
The thing is that Google rarely announces their algorithm updates or changes. Usually, SEO nerds figure it out when they see major drops in rankings. Then, they get to work reverse engineering as much as they can and write a series of articles for other SEO nerds. But, this time, it’s different. This time, they announced the changes.
You can bet that if they do that, it’s going to be big. Very big. Like, “Really. You need to pay attention to this big”.
They’ve announced some of the changes in the past. They gave us all fair warning that we all needed mobile-friendly websites. They also waved a flag when they decided to index our mobile websites first before our desktop sites. Why? Simple, they saw how people were searching more on their cell phones than desktop, so they simply prioritized what was already happening. Now, more than 60% of all searches are done on smartphones. And, does anybody use a desktop anymore? (the answer is yes.)
So, what’s the big announcement?
It’s called the Google Page Experience update. They’ve designed this new process to judge the effectiveness of pages of a website based on user experience and perception. This means that user experience just skyrocketed to the top of the SEO checklist of digital marketing firms across the globe.
The good news is that, according to Google, they’re not “officially” launching this new update until March or so of 2021. The thing you should know about any “official” launch that Google announces is that if they give you a deadline, they’ve already been running it for at least a year already.
Regardless, you still have time to get ready, but we all need to jump on it.
What is the Google Page Experience Update?
As the world of SEO evolves, page experience is seemingly emerging as a major playing factor in how well a website will rank among competitors. When it comes to page experience, Google uses specific metrics to understand how well a user will perceive a particular web page, thereby predicting the overall experience.
The Google Page Experience Update consists of several Google search ranking factors that digital marketing agencies and those familiar with web design should recognize. These page experience signals include page speed, having HTTPS security, the mobile-friendly part in place, intrusive ad penalties, and safe browsing factors.
Each of these rank components is refined around page load speed and browser usability. When combined, Google refers to these metrics as Core Web Vitals.
The Importance of Core Web Vitals
A crucial part of understanding Google Page Experience’s concept is embracing the Core Web Vitals that Google will use to decide if a user will stay on or navigate away from your website. While it may seem presumptuous of Google to assume that they can make such a call, trust us, they have the tools (humans) and the technology (web crawlers) to distinguish a fantastic website from a mediocre one.
Core Web Vitals are user-centered metrics that give your website a score based on specific components of your page, such as interactivity, content stability, and the amount of time it takes to load. These metrics fall under the following categories, as defined by Google (here comes the nerdy part):
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
The LCP measures the loading time and performance of your page. Google considers a load time of 2.5 seconds to the first ingestible content as good user experiences.
Please note, your entire page does not have to load in this frame of time, but the user has to take in something of substance within 2.5 seconds to enjoy your page.
First Input Delay (FID)
The FID metric will measure how interactive your page is. According to Google, if you’re FID is less than 100 milliseconds, then you’re in good shape.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
CLS measures the visual stability of your site and the pages within it. Web design agencies will be all too familiar with this metric and implement it for you on each of your pages.
Simply put, users don’t want to experience a layout shift during their visit, and Google expects you not to let it happen. Instead, everything on your site should load quickly and methodically, from videos and buttons to links and navigation menus.
Preparing for the Update
With Google promising to give web designers and publishers a notice before launching Google Page Experience, business owners can issue a sigh of relief for the time being- but not for long.
The time for preparation is now, and by focusing on the Core Web Vitals and the SEO essentials, you can get a jumpstart on the new algorithm and the competition. SEO experts everywhere remain unsure about the size of this update or its impact on current site rankings.
One thing is certain however, this is a big change. It’s one we need to take seriously, but no one needs to panic. All this will become part of the algorithm that Google uses, but there are well over 200 elements that make up that algorithm.
Website developers and marketing teams must keep in mind: great content will always reign. Google Product Lead Rudy Galfi confirmed that a poor page experience with excellent content would continue to rank highly in Google search.
“While all of the components of page experience are important, we will rank pages with the best information overall, even if some aspects of page experience are subpar. A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content. However, in cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search.”
The Strange Nature of Google’s Announcement
There is a bit of buzz surrounding the fact that Google made such a specific announcement regarding a change to their ranking algorithm. No matter how substantial, SEO changes are typically released by Google in casually mentioned updates and developer guides, and rarely notable announcements.
However, based on the economy’s state and the effects that so many businesses feel from the COVID-19 pandemic, rumor has it that Google doesn’t see additional stress on small (and medium) sized businesses as necessary. Things are complicated enough right now, and there is no need to make them worse for companies that are already struggling.
Regardless of the intention behind the announcement, it’s a big deal. Developers, agencies, and designers should pay close attention to ensuring that their sites and clients are ready to roll with the new changes when the time comes.
Changes to Google Analytics
Page experience isn’t the only change that Google has made recently, and the introduction of Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is mixing things up a bit for users that consistently track their metrics. Changes to audience reports and future conversion probability will make GA4 more reflective than it has ever been in the past.
The user journey is a complex one, and Google understands that brand expectations in 2021 are high. With the new Google Analytics, businesses can better track that journey, and in turn, learn what they need to know about their audiences and ways to create a great page experience.
Why You Should Care About This Update
When Google releases new updates that will affect the way they rank websites, every business site owner with an online presence should pay attention. Success with e-commerce and competitive local markets often depends upon proper implementation and utilization of search engine optimization.
Despite varying views, SEO is more important now than it has ever been. New businesses pop up online in your niche every day, targeting your audience, and SEO helps get better visibility than your competitors which means you’re more likely to get the sales.
With this announcement, Google has handed over a major play in their book to marketers worldwide. It’s a big move for them, and it will impact the way your business shows up in search results. Caring is essential.
Defining Your Strategy with Make It Loud
Make It Loud has been serving clients in the Atlanta area for more than 15 years. We fully embrace the changes that Google implements, and we create a sound digital marketing strategy for our clients based on what we know works.
We are only as successful as our clients, and we understand what it takes to help a website rank. If you’re ready to update your strategy to reflect the changes to Google Page Experience, call us today, and we’ll make sure you stay a step ahead!