Google Algorithm updates over the past few years have been focusing on the user experience and making sure their results are high-quality so that they continue to grow and improve Googles platform.
Google are taking it one step further with their next Algorithm update now due for roll out from June 2021, with it fully released in August. The new page experience update will be a new ranking feature.
When Google rolls out a new Algorithm update, they don’t usually give much notice. But due to the Coronavirus, Google wanted to give businesses time to prepare so business owners can update their website in time for the new changes. They’ll send out another update 6 months before the roll-out is due to take place.
To measure your website’s page performance, Google has introduced a page experience metric system called Core Web Vitals. It’s guidance for quality signals that are essential to delivering a great user experience on the web.
What are Core Web Vitals in Google’s Algorithm Update?
According to Google’s Algorithm update announcement, the current Core Web Vitals for 2021 focuses on three aspects of the user experience – loading, interactivity, and visual stability.
These are made up of the following metrics:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): LCP is all about loading performance. It measures the time taken from the start of the page load to when the first large image or text block has fully rendered. To provide a good user experience, sites should load the largest bit of content within 2.5 seconds.
First Input Delay (FID): This measures the amount of time it takes for a user to be able to interact with a page, for example, from when a user clicks a link, taps on a button or uses a custom control. Pages should have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): The CLS measures visual stability; this is the total of all individual layout shift scores for every unexpected layout shift that occurs during the entire lifespan page. An example is where part of the page hasn’t fully rendered, and when it does it pushes all other elements further down the page, such as buttons or interactive areas, which can negatively impact the user’s experience. Pages should maintain a CLS of less than 0.1.
These three measurements are to check that the page offers a good experience to your users. However, Google has stated that these tools are not perfect and future improvements or additions should be expected.
Other important page experience elements to consider are:
- Mobile responsiveness
- Lack of interstitial popups
- Safe browsing with no malware
You can view the page experience results by using the PageSpeed Insights tool – here are the results for the BBC News website using PageSpeed Insights:
Why are Core Web Vitals measurements important for SEO?
When the Google Algorithm update rollout starts in June 2021 with completion in August, you should test your web pages on the above metrics of LCP, FID and CLS. If your page scores poorly in the lab test then it is possible your competitors, with a better performance score, will overtake you in SERPs.
Although there are many other considerations when it comes to ranking well in Google, this will be a new part that will help show Google your site is easy to use and loads fast enough so that users have a good experience.
If your website is slow in loading and interactivity is poor, then you may be downgraded in SERPs. It’s worth testing your website now to see what updates or adjustments need to be made.
To update your website and get it ready for the new page experience ranking feature, you need to focus on reducing unnecessary code, sort any caching issues and ensure all imagery is compressed.
If you utilise the tools available to measure your page experience, it usually gives you the reason why the results are low and how to fix the issue for both mobile and desktop versions of your site.
For example, these are a couple of the issues that come up for the desktop version of the BBC news website:
How to measure the Core Web Vitals for your site with the Google Algorithm update
Since the announcement of the Algorithm update, Google has updated the PageSpeed Insights tool and Google Search Console Core Web Vitals report which both use the Chrome User Experience Report. You can also use the Performance Inspection tool to understand and see how your web pages load.
PageSpeed Insights is essentially a lab test, it may be different each time you run it, but it will generate results based on loading speed. The Google Search Console Core Web Vital report is essentially an overview for your website and using the Inspection tool on chrome and viewing the performance will help indicate loading times on individual pages.
To see page performance in Chrome, right click on the webpage you want to measure in Chrome, click “Inspect” and on the top tabs select “Performance” To measure the page, click the refresh button which is between the “record” and “clear” button. This will then reload the page and gives you an idea on how your page loads in the below report:
To view your UX report in Google Search Console, go to your Google search account and click on the “Core Web Vitals” under “Enhancements” – this will give you simple detail on how your web pages are performing and the option to review the page once the issues have been fixed.
And of course, there is the PageSpeed Insights tool that covers any issues found on the web pages as stated above. These tools are free to use to understand your website pages experience.
Google has recently announced that the algorithm update is due to roll out in June 2021 with roll out complete in August, giving us time to make any necessary changes to our website. Check through your website on Google Search Console or PageSpeed Insights and schedule any fixes raised from the results.