Google is finalizing updates for a search algorithm upgrade that will launch in May 2021.
Since it focuses on usability instead of keywords or search significance, the update is dubbed the Page Experience update. Google has released some details about the update, which will aim to measure and possibly rate the user experience while browsing a website.
As Google has sent too many warnings about the update, it should tell you everything you must know about how serious the update should be taken. We know it will influence organic search, but there is no news yet on if it will influence Google My Business ranks.
However, there is enough reason to get ahead of yourself and ask, “What would the Page Experience update bring for my local SEO efforts?"
In this article, we will look at how the update will function and some actionable steps to help you prepare your local business website for it.
What is Page Experience update all about?
At the highest level, the Page Experience update would include the Core Web Vitals, which Google introduced in 2020, into the search algorithm. The aim of introducing Core Web Vitals was to ensure that users have a site experience that is easy, safe, reliable, and works well on any device.
The update essentially turns such metrics from a ‘request' to a ‘demand’. So, in theory, at least, your local business website will do worse in search if your competitor performs well in Core Web Vitals.
The update is not just about the latest Core Web Vitals. It has several usability factors that are already necessary in search but could become even more important because of the update.
Let us look at some of the most important aspects of the Page Experience update.
Core Web Vitals
Google's Core Web Vitals are a new method of measuring website’s performance over the web. Nowadays, an everyday user expects smooth, quick browsing experiences, especially on mobile devices.
What are the metrics of Core Web Vitals?
- Largest contentful paint: Measures how fast the piece of content piece loads
- First input delay: Measure how fast the page responds to the first user input
- Cumulative layout shift: Measures the stability of the visual elements on the page
Site Design Intrusiveness
When surfing the internet, we have all been bombarded with distracting pop-ups and widgets. It seems that these have become more common in the past few years.
With an influx of newsletter opt-ins, cookie acceptance, and reminders that you are about to leave the site, it is no surprise that Google wanted to do act against these negative user experiences.
It is not all about negative experiences. Without you realizing it, your local content marketing activities may be delivering a negative experience. For example, elements can display differently on separate devices, such as those with different screen ratios.
The phrase "mobile-friendly" has evolved into "mobile-first." Since so much of the internet is accessible from mobile devices, it is important for Google that websites give an experience that performs just as well in hand as they do on a desktop or laptop.
With more than 3.5 billion mobile users worldwide, it is no surprise that Google is emphasising this statistic more than ever. Google also stated that the update would pay more attention to how your website looks on mobile devices.
This is also more important for local SEOs. Since mobile searches account for 60% of all local searches, optimizing website for mobile is an essential part of any local SEO strategy.
Safe and Private Browsing
Google has long been on the lookout for spammy and malicious websites. So, it definitely does not want users to be directed to a malicious website because of its search results, as this will give a negative search experience. As a small business owner, you should expect this to be one of the riskiest things you can do. However, beyond malicious behaviour, page experience will also mean that Google prefers protected sites(HTTPS). If you want your SEO activities to pay off in 2021, SSL certification will no longer be an option.
How can I keep up with the Page Experience update?
So, how do you stay ahead of this update and make sure it does not sabotage your local SEO efforts?
As always Google will be focusing on the page level. Sure, the site's overall ranking matters, but keep in mind that Google ranks pages and not complete websites.
Examine the pages and create an action plan based on them. Adapt these tips to your product/service pages and blog posts to understand where you need to change.
Here are some things you can do:
- Increase your page speed and reduce the chances of technical errors
- Compare your page experience with your competitors
- Spend some time and analyze your website’s layout and design
Google is getting better every day at understanding the value searchers or users get from browsing websites. While the Page Experience update is less likely to affect the site's ranking than off-page SEO, it can make all the difference in competing for the best organic search keywords.
This distinction can be extremely valuable to your business. You should consider more than just the financial advantages. It is usually a good idea to consider how your competitors’ websites are set up and what you can do better to beat them. Set some time aside to complete the steps outlined in this post, and you will be well on your way to achieving page experience success.