With Google’s recent site performance update in full effect, you may need to make some changes to maintain your site’s ranking in Google search. We’ll cover what the update is all about and what you can do to prepare yourself for the best possible results.
Why Did Google Update?
Google released this update to improve user experience by paying closer attention to how customers feel about their interactions with your web page. Part of the reason for this roll-out is likely because users often don’t experience pages the same way creators do during development. Regardless of how well your site might work for you, your rankings will suffer if it doesn’t offer a great experience to your end-user.
What is Google Measuring?
Google will now be looking at the following signals to decide your website’s quality of page experience:
Use of HTTPS
Absence or presence of intrusive interstitials
A new system of metrics called Core Web Vitals (CWV)
What You Can Do
Here’s how you can make sure your website offers visitors a better experience so you can qualify for a “Good” page experience rating:
Secure your site. Make your site more secure by serving it over HTTPS. SSL helps keep sensitive data safe from intruders when your website communicates with a user’s browser. Almost all good hosts include free SSL for your site these days. If yours does not, consider moving.
Check your site on phones and tablets. Make sure there are no mobile usability issues. This is important because more than half of all online traffic comes from mobile phones. You can see google’s opinion on your layout by testing it here[https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly]
Get rid of unnecessary pop-ups. Your site should also follow Google’s “Intrusive Interstitial Guidelines” by avoiding the use of pop-ups that cover important content, anything the user has to dismiss before viewing the content, or anything that forces content lower on the page. Exceptions include the use of pop-ups required by law, login dialogs on privately indexed sites, and banners that don’t take up too much space.
Google’s new Core Web Vitals look at qualities like speed, responsiveness, and stability of loading content. These vitals use a rating system of Good, Needs Improvement, or Poor. It is important to note that page experience metrics are URL-to-URL, meaning that one of your URLs could differ in rating from another. Naturally, URLs will require a CWV rating of “Good” to qualify for a page experience score of the same rating. If a URL does not appear in the CWV report, it will fail the page experience status in Google Search.
Here are the three metrics CWV uses:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
When your page starts loading, LCP measures speed performance based on how long it takes to render the largest image or block of text. The process should happen in under 2.5 seconds for a “Good” ranking. If it loads in under 4 seconds, you get a “Needs Improvement” rating, and longer than that will be labeled “Poor.”
First Input Delay (FID, also commonly known as Time to First Byte or TTFB)
This measures interactivity via the time it takes for your site to respond and begin processing a request when a user first interacts with your page. Google expects this in under 100 milliseconds for a “Good” rating. A “Poor” rating will apply if it takes more than 300 milliseconds.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
CLS is a measurement of the visual stability of your website based on unexpected layout shifts that happen over the entire lifespan of your page. Aim for a CLS score of 0.1 or less for “Good.” Beyond 0.25 is considered “Poor.”
Bonus points for understanding this: The CLS score is the impact fraction (the percentage of the total viewport impacted by the amount of space taken up due to the shift of content from one frame to the next) multiplied by the distance fraction (the largest shift in distance from a piece of content relative to the viewport divided by the viewport’s largest dimension, whether that be width or height).
More Actionable Insights
Google’s new Page Experience report is also coming into play to help you keep your site performing well. The report will give you all the necessary data around page experience and search impressions, like the percentages of failing URLs and succeeding URLs according to the CWV, mobile usability, security issues, HTTPS, and other factors. That way you’ll be able to make quick assessments of your pages, giving you the means to easily identify and improve areas of weakness.
Google also updated the Search Performance report to make it easier to track how your pages compare to each other by filtering them based on their page experience rating.
You can read more about the page experience report and click directly through to Google Webmaster Tools here: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/10218333?hl=en
Keep in mind that while page experience is essential, it can never replace great content. For the best possible results, ensure your website includes top-notch content and follows the guidelines for a good page experience status.