There’s one thing we must remember about the internet: it’s always changing. In order to keep up with user behavior and deliver the answers that consumers are looking for, Google makes regular changes to its algorithm. A side effect of these updates is that some websites may see major changes to their rankings, particularly if they aren’t adhering to Google’s best practices.
That’s why it’s important to take action when an algorithm update has taken place. But while we often won’t be notified until after one has been rolled out, we actually know in advance that Google is planning to launch its Page Experience update in May 2021. In order to prevent any issues with your site’s search rankings, you’ll want to take action now. But what exactly do you need to know about this update? Let’s dive in.
What is Google’s Page Experience Update?
Google actually launches thousands of algorithm updates every year, but many are minor enough that you might never realize they’ve happened. Others, however, have sent shockwaves throughout the web. While these updates have targeted a number of different issues, they all are meant to improve the experience for web users and ensure the right websites are being rewarded for their work.
This upcoming update is focused on user experience on specific web pages. Google will take a number of ranking factors into account when evaluating websites, but most will focus on site speed, security, interactivity, responsiveness, and ease of use. In order to build momentum on the work you’ve already done to improve your website visibility and reputation, you’ll want to pay attention to the recommendations we’ve made below.
What Do I Need to Do to Prepare For the Algorithm Update?
- Speed Up Your Site – Site speed has already been a ranking signal for some time, but the release of Google’s Core Web Vitals has made it more important than ever. Largest Contentful Paint, or LCP, is the amount of time it takes for the largest element of content on a page to load. Your LCP rating should be under 2.5 seconds in order to rank well during this update.
- Reduce Interactivity Delays – First Input Delay, or FID, is another one of Google’s Core Web Vitals. This refers to the amount of time it takes from when a user first interacts with your site to when the browser responds to that action (which allows them to click other elements). You’ll want to reduce any delays so that your FID score is less than 100 milliseconds.
- Stabilize Page Layout – When a page’s layout jumps around unexpectedly, this is referred to as a layout shift. Another one of Google’s Core Web Vitals is Cumulative Layout Shift, or CLS. To avoid a disruptive experience for web visitors, make sure that the combined number of layout shifts during a page’s lifespan is below 0.1.
- Eliminate Page Errors – You’ll also want to eliminate any navigation issues and site errors to prioritize user experience. Fix any 404 errors, redirect problems, or broken links to make certain nothing will take away from what your site can offer.
- Boost Site Security – You need to show that your site provides a secure browsing experience for users. One of the best ways to do that is through the use of SSL protocol. HTTPS allows for site security when exchanging private information, but even sites that don’t offer a shopping experience or a login portal should still obtain secure site certification.
- Focus on Mobile – Mobile traffic is dominating the landscape, so it’s essential that your content is easily accessible to mobile users. Remove any intrusive interstitials and ensure that your site design is fully responsive to provide an impeccable user experience across all devices.
With this information in mind, you’re ready to work with your SEO agency to prepare for the Page Experience update. By being proactive, you’ll be able to maintain (or even improve) your rankings in 2021 and feel confident in the experience you’re providing for web users.