What to Expect From Google’s Upcoming Page Experience Update

June 4, 2021

6 minutes

OK ladies and gents, grab a drink and hunker down because in this post we are wading deep into the nitty-gritty details of the big 2021 Google Search engine update that everyone’s talking about.

Since this post has the potential to get complicated, allow us to front-load the value for you here at the beginning:

If you own a business and have a website, you must make sure that your website meets Google’s criteria to rank high on the search engine results page (SERP). This is accomplished alongside a thorough Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy  that keeps your website on top.

At the end of 2020, Google announced that it would be making big changes relative to page experience to its search algorithms in 2021. In the past, major core algorithm updates have caused significant changes in how websites rank in search engine results.

Google was kind enough to give us all a heads-up about these coming changes so that our websites are ready when the changes roll out over the summer. Most of the 2021 core algorithm updates are technical in nature, have big implications for mobile, and may take time to adequately address.

In this blog post, we will break down why this matters to you and what you need to do to make sure that your website is up-to-date with Google’s new ranking standards.

Why Google Algorithm Updates Matter to Your Business

Talk of SEO, SERPs, and other web-related acronyms is enough to make anyone’s eyes glaze over a bit. You may think that all this techie talk doesn’t really matter to your bottom line, or that your IT person has it all under control, and maybe to some extent that’s true. But if that’s you, we urge you to stop and consider the significant marketing implications SEO can have on how your website delivers leads to your sales funnel.

Your ideal customers are Googling questions that your products and services solve. In order for them to find you, your website needs to be developed, designed, and written in a way that makes it easy for Google to recognize and understand that your website answers these questions. It’s one part art and one part science, but you need both to have a website that performs well in the search engine rankings.

(Read More: Six Questions to Help You Evaluate Your Website)

The technical term for how Google does this is called a search algorithm. Google is the number one search engine in the world because they work around the clock to make sure that their algorithms are sophisticated enough to decipher the intent behind the user’s search query and deliver the best results.

SEO includes all the various steps a website owner must take to ensure that their website meets all of Google’s standards. In order to rank on page one for specific search terms, a website must meet specific criteria relative to content, authority, and technical capabilities. If you ignore these criteria it will be difficult to nearly impossible for your website to appear in organic search results for specific keywords related to your business.

SEO brings more traffic to your website. More traffic means more opportunities to lead prospects into your sales funnel. Without an SEO strategy, you’re very likely losing business to competitors that are already paying attention to these details.

If you’re trying to hit specific sales goals, or if your website is experiencing an unexpected dip in traffic, contact us right away. We can audit your site and recommend improvements to help more people find your business online.

(Read More: Here’s Why Web Design Can Make or Break the Buyer’s Journey)

Important Info About Google’s Core Web Vitals & Page Experience Update

Google search algorithms use several different metrics to evaluate whether or not a webpage matches a search query. These metrics, often referred to as signals and search algorithms, are programmed to quickly recognize websites with the right signals. There are many, many, factors that play into this overall evaluation, but here we are going to focus on changes relative to core web vitals and user experience

This is where it gets a little complicated so let’s define a few terms.

1. What are Core Web Vitals? 

Core Web Vitals are metrics Google uses to evaluate the user experience (UX) of your website. UX is just a fancy way to describe how easy it is for a visitor to interact with your website. Core Web Vitals focus specifically on three aspects of UX including load time, interactivity, and visual stability.

2. What is the Google page experience update?

Between June and August 2021, Google will make updates to its search engine that evaluate websites’ UX based on criteria such as Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), and First Input Delay (FID). Page experience ranking signals combine Core Web Vitals and previous UX-related signals.

3. What is Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)?

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), refers to how fast a page loads on the device you are using. LCP is a user timing metric that says a website needs to load in 2.5 seconds or less in order to receive a passing score.

Things that can make it difficult for your page to load this fast:

  • Too many third-party scripts
  • Large image files
  • Unused plug-ins
  • Poor hosting services

If your website is experiencing lag time of any kind, work with a developer now to identify the source of the problem and make changes to speed up your website.

4. What is Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)? 

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) evaluates whether or not the content on your pages shifts in ways that would negatively impact the user experience while navigating your website.

For example, web pages with ads or videos that automatically shift the on-page content will need to make adjustments to ensure that there are no added elements contributing to a clunky website experience.

The Google page experience update will give a positive score to websites with a CLS of 0.1 or lower.

5. What is First Input Delay (FID)? 

First Input Delay (FID) measures the time it takes your website to respond to the action. In other words, FID measures the dead air between your click and the website’s response to your click.

If you’ve ever clicked something on a website and nothing happened, then you have experienced negative UX relative to FID (we told you it’d get complicated).

Google recommends that sites should have an FID of 100 milliseconds or less.

Bottom Line: This Update is About User Experience (UX)

Complicated technical terms aside, how this plays out in the SEO world is this: if your site and your competitor’s site both have the answer to a search query, you have to best your competitor on Core Web Vitals to get the higher page ranking.

There are tools you can use to check your website’s Core Web Vitals score in the Google search console or you can give us a call and we will walk you through the entire process. Because let’s face it, this core update is highly technical and even the experts who are dedicating 100 percent of their capacity to preparing for the update are working 24/7 to identify the tiniest detail that will give their websites a leg up on the competition.

If you can’t get the Core Web Vitals where they need to be before the end of the summer, it’s not the end of the world. There are still multiple other factors that heavily influence your page rank. But these metrics are here to stay and will only get tighter as more websites adapt to the standards.

If you can come out ahead of the pack and be a leader within your niche, you will enjoy a more secure hold in the top of the page ranks while your competitors struggle to keep up.

Confused About Google Algorithm Updates?

If so, you’re not alone. Entire careers are devoted to anticipating and making sense of these complicated metrics and signals. What people outside of the SEO world may not understand is that algorithms evaluate desktop websites differently from mobile websites. These new updates will have significant implications for mobile websites so be sure that your website has a mobile-first design and is performing well on all types of devices, not just desktop computers.

You shouldn’t have to spend time figuring this out on your own. All of these details require an experienced web developer to achieve proper form and function. Find a good team (like us!) to partner with you and shoulder the tech burden for you. Doing this will help you get ahead of your competitors who may not be tuned into the changes that are coming.

We are here to help. Contact us today and we will schedule a time to make sure your website is prepped and ready for the page experience update!

Cross & Crown

About Cross & Crown

Cross & Crown is a team of creatives who are passionate about solving problems through design and technology, taking what is there and making it better. Based in Chambersburg, PA, we strive to help educate, advocate, and thrive in a digital world.

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