With Google’s ever-changing algorithm, it can be challenging to keep up with everything new. While much of Google’s algorithm remains a mystery, Google recently announced that they were rolling out a new update that focuses on-page experience as a key ranking factor. You might be wondering, “how does this impact my church’s website”? The good news is that this update isn’t coming until 2021 so you have plenty of time to make sure that your site is optimized for page experience. In this blog, we’ll give you everything you need to know to ensure your site is set up for success once the algorithm update comes into effect.
What is Page Experience?
Over the past several years, Google has continued to make improvements to its algorithm and changes to prioritize user experience, mainly in the form of site speed and mobile optimization. Page experience takes UX to the next level by including new metrics surrounding how a user interacts with a page, in addition to site speed to get a better overall picture of a website. Google’s goal with this update is to make the web a more “delightful” experience for users so that engagement increases and they can get more done.
In Google’s announcement, they explained, “The page experience signal measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page. Optimizing for these factors makes the web more delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces, and helps sites evolve towards user expectations on mobile.” Yoast describes this further by stating, “This is about how a user experiences all those optimizations. The site might be fast according to the metrics, but does it feel fast? Thus, it’s high time to take a drastic look at page experience.”
What Metrics Are Related to Page Experience?
A few weeks before Google’s major announcement, they also rolled out a series of new metrics that impact page experience known as Web Vitals (full details here). In the past, user experience has been a bit of a vague guessing game to see what works versus what doesn’t on your site. These new set of Web Vitals metrics help to take away some of the guesswork by clearly defining components that lead to a better page experience.
Google outlined a set of Core Web Vitals that are the most important metrics to focus on related to loading, interactivity, and visual stability on websites. These metrics are:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – This measures how long it takes to load the largest content element within the viewport on the page. An example of this is a large hero image or video.
- First Input Delay (FID) – This metric looks at how long it takes from when a user first interacts on a page upon loading to when the browser responds to their interaction. This metric determines how responsive the site is.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – This metric measures the unexpected movement on a page and how unstable a page is. An example of poor CLS is when you are scrolling through a piece of content and suddenly the page jumps and you lose your place.
Sites should be scoring for each of the core web vitals within the 75th percentile to achieve a high-quality page experience for users.
Are These New Ranking Factors Replacing Old Ranking Factors?
No, these new ranking factors are not replacing pre-existing factors related to page experience. You still need to continue to optimize your site to ensure it is fully mobile-optimized, is a secure site (HTTPS), free of pop-ups, and overall a safe place for users. In addition to the new Web Vitals, the existing page experience ranking factors will remain important and impact your site’s performance. By combining these existing factors with the new Web Vitals metrics, Google can create a more holistic view of a page for UX.
How Does Content Relate to Page Experience?
When it comes to Google and SEO, you’ve probably heard that content is king. High-quality content is still incredibly important and a key ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. A great page experience doesn’t outweigh poor quality content. In Google’s announcement, they stated that they will continue to show in search results the best information overall. If a page has great content but has some minor issues with page experience, it will still perform well in search results. Page experience metrics become a more deciding factor when it comes to ranking pages that are very similar in content. If two pages are similar in content, the page with better page experience will outperform the other.
What Tools Are Available to Measure My Site’s Page Experience?
The good news is, there are a lot of tools now available to help measure a website’s page experience. Google rolled out some new tools, in addition to adding on-page experience metrics to existing ones. While some of these tools help predict what a page experience will be like for a site in development, other tools are created specifically for measuring live performance.
- Lighthouse in DevTools
- PageSpeed Insights
- Chrome User Experience Report API
- Experience section
- Search Console’s new Core Web Vitals report
- Web Vitals Chrome Extension
When Will This Algorithm Update Take Place?
Although Google has not given a specific date, they have stated that it will occur sometime in 2021. With everything going on in the world with COVID-19, Google wanted to allow websites to have plenty of time to prepare for the algorithm change and have stated that you don’t need to make any immediate changes. In their initial announcement, they stated that it will not be rolled out without at least 6 months of warning so you can gradually improve your site’s page experience.
Get Help Improving Your Page Experience
If you’re worried about the new algorithm update and want to make sure that your church’s website provides users with a great page experience, our team at Missional Marketing is here to help. Our search experts will audit your website and make any necessary changes to ensure that your website is set up for success once the algorithm change goes into effect. To speak with a member of our team, give us a call at 480-420-2007 of head over to our contact us page for more ways to get in touch with us.