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Google’s upcoming update to focus on UX | The Audit Lab
Google's latest update, to be released next year, will make user experience a key part of ranking. So get your websites in gear!
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Google’s upcoming update to focus on UX

Google’s upcoming update to focus on UX

Towards the end of May, Google announced that they would be introducing a new ranking algorithm to the search engine which will judge websites on perceived user experience when interacting with a web page. 

Some parts of user experience have already been considered to be ranking factors – such as site speed – but this update will make it concrete. What this means is if Google thinks that the users of your website are having a poor experience, then they may not rank as high as they used to. Hence its name; the Google Page Experience update.

The announcement, which you can take a look at in full here, says that the update will be introduced in 2021, and that they will give us all six months advance notice. They say that this timescale is to give businesses some ‘breathing room’ as they deal with the impact and aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, what is page experience?

A page experience signal “measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page.” By optimising for these factors, a website is more enjoyable for a person to use, and it works well across all web browsers and devices. According to Google, they believe “this will contribute to business success on the web as users grow more engaged and can transact with less friction.” 

Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals is a ranking signal that will be incorporated along with the update in 2021. They are real-world and user-centered metrics that are able to turn key aspects of the user experience into quantifiable data. It measures dimensions of a website’s usability – like interactivity, load table and content stability.

Here’s a more technical overview…

  • First Input Delay – Also known as FID, is how interactivity is measured. For the best user experience, pages should have a FID of under 100 milliseconds
  • Largest Contentful Paint – Also known as LCP, this is a measurement of loading performance. For the best experience, this should occur within 2.5 seconds of when a webpage first starts to load
  • Cumulative Layout Shift – CLS measures visual stability, which should be maintained at a level of 0.1

When all of the ranking factors are grouped together, they all contribute to page experience. And while this specifically is not a ranking score, each element pulls its own weight in the overall searching engine algorithm.

In case you didn’t know, here’s a few more factors…

  • Mobile-friendliness – Is the page mobile-friendly? Does its design adapt and change depending on the device it is viewed on? If you’re not sure, you can test your website’s mobile friendliness here
  • HTTPS – Do these letters appear in front of your site’s URL? If they do, it means your site’s connection is secure. Click here to find out more about securing your site
  • Safe browsing – Is your site safe for the people who visit it? Is it free from malware hidden and deceptive content?

What can I do to prepare for this update?

Just focus on making your website as user-friendly as possible. If you’ve got any gaping issues – such as images that appear and shift important buttons down or pop-ups that are activated 0.5 seconds after someone lands on your site – then you might want to get those taken care of. Not to worry, you’ve got plenty of time, but it’s never too early to start!

Have impartial people run through your website for the first time, and ask them to point out anything that makes their journey awkward or difficult. Partner with a digital marketing agency or user experience specialists who may be able to find problems you couldn’t. What matters most is that you make navigating your website as easy as possible for your customers; every little change helps!

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