If you are in the marketing sector or have an online presence of any kind, you may want to be aware of the new ranking factor which Google recently announced. The new ranking factor is associated with page experience and was announced by Google on the 28th of May. This blog post will be going over what we know so far and what you need to be aware of, however, it is worth noting that despite such an update being announced now, the update is not being implemented until 2021. Google also stated that they will be giving at least a 6-month notice before the update goes live.
What Exactly is the new Ranking Factor?
The new page experience ranking factor will essentially try to perceive the user’s web page experience on any given site. It attempts to do this by taking into account various different metrics (working on existing factors as well as other metrics). Some of the main metrics which will be taken into account are as follow:
o Load speed
o HTTPS – is the website secure?
o Any presence of bad or intrusive ads
o Content unnecessarily jumping around as the page loads
Above is what Google attempts to look out for and gauge on some kind of a scale, to which it can then compare to other sites in the search results. How it looks to do this is by looking at many specific and relevant metrics and setting a threshold for each of them. Such metrics is what Google now refers to as ‘Core Web Vitals’, and it will be key to understand for future reference. Please see below, the main ‘Core Web Vitals’ which will be considered as part of the new update.
What are Core Web Vitals?
As briefly touched on above, Core Web Vitals are basically user-focused metrics that Google are using to gauge a user’s page experience.
LCP – Largest Contentful Paint:
This is regarding load time. LCP should happen in the first 2.5 seconds of when the page was first loaded.
FID – First Input Delay:
This is the time the user interacts, to the time the site responds. The page must have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds for good user experience.
CLS – Cumulative Layout Shift:
This essentially tracks the visual stability of web pages. Pages should sustain a CLS of less than 0.1.
Some of the above metrics may be familiar, apart from ‘CLS’ (Cumulative Layout Shift) which is new. This is used to pick up on any web pages that may have shifting content (images, buttons or content), resulting in a poor page experience.
How Important will This Ranking Factor be?
As we know, there are an array of ranking factors which Google takes into consideration when ranking websites, but just how important will this ranking factor be? It is, of course, difficult to measure just how impactful this update will be with it not being live yet, however, you should note that Google recently stated that this factor will not override good relevant content. This means that, theoretically, a site which may have a sub-par page experience, can still rank above you if it has insightful and relevant content.
How to Track Google’s Core Web Vitals
Google realises that it may be hard for you to try and understand where your web pages sit on the Core Web Vitals, so they have ensured that such metrics are easily accessible. They did this by making them accessible from popular existing tools and introducing new tools. See some of the main places people can now go to get an insight into their page experience:
o Lighthouse in DevTools
o Chrome PageSpeed Insights
o Chrome User Experience Report API allows you to get up to 28 days of historical data from your URLs
o Experience section available in the DevTools Performance panel
o Google Search Console now provides a new Core Web Vitals report to give you a summary of how your site performs. You may have noticed that this has replaced the ‘speed report’ section and
o Web Vitals Chrome Extension which gives quick access to these metrics from your browser
To finalise this blog post, I thought I would cover the simple questions you may have right now, like, why is google suddenly cracking down on user page experience via this new update? Or, how should I respond to the update? (set to release in 2021).
Essentially, in answer to the first question, Google is continuously working on bettering the search engine in a seemingly endless attempt to better serve everyone, making sure that people find exactly what they are looking for. It does this via updates that span across the entire year, with only main or noticeable updates being picked up or announced.
This newly announced page experience ranking factor is essentially just another improvement to the search engine and has been curated in an effort to provide users with the best relevant content and page experience alongside it. Such updates are also addressed following internal research and industry research that Google carries out. Looking into this, it is clear that industry research dictates that users prefer pages with optimal page experience.
The Big Picture
Google’s algorithm is constantly evolving, and this introduction of yet another ranking factor just highlights this fact. Currently, Google’s algorithm fundamentally still goes off a massive series of somewhat ‘traditional’ data points/metrics to determine many things surrounding sites, links and more, to help rank sites. As well as this, it also has RankBrain which is a machine-learning artificial intelligence introduced in 2015. Going forward, the number of data points, as well as the advancement and involvement of AI will only increase, allowing Google to do things such as learn and evolve, which in turn would allow them to treat distinct niches differently and much much more.
It is safe to say that the future will be interesting in regards to Google. If you are a business looking at marketing, we are also aware that keeping track of such updates can be difficult. So, if you are interested in improving your online presence and overall ROI, be sure to give us a call on 01604 806020 or visit our contact page today for more details.