Search engine optimization is a tricky but necessary component of any business’s website plan. Website optimization is an on-going process. Why? Because Google is continually changing the algorithm that determines page rank. Most people don’t realize how often these algorithm updates occur. To put it into perspective, in 2020 there were 13 changes made, and there have already been three in 2021. However, not every update is monumental. They often aim simply to fix glitches or make minor adjustments to how rankings are determined. Occasionally, though, Google rolls out an algorithm update that can have a major impact on your business’s rank and how SEO should be performed. One such update is coming in May 2021—a set of metrics known as Page Experience.
What is Page Experience?
In Google’s own words, the page experience signal “measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page,” with the goal of encouraging “business success on the web as users grow more engaged and can transact with less friction.” In a nutshell, this new addition to the algorithm places more emphasis on user experience within a website. Google wants to ensure that the sites that they rank highly aren’t creating a poor user experience. What exactly is factored into the page experience metric? There are a number of elements, some old and some new, that come together to determine page usability.
Page Experience Algorithm Factors
One consideration that isn’t new is page speed. Users are more likely to stick with a page that gives them content quickly—slower loading time may mean a higher chance of users clicking away from you. You can test your page speed using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. Some ways to decrease loading times include compressing large image and video files, removing any unnecessary or outdated code, and utilizing an efficient caching policy.
Broken links are another current factor gaining importance. This can include links that point to nowhere or links that point to invalid URLs. Test all the links on your site, either manually or using an online link checking software. Once you have identified any issues, removing the link or redirecting it to the appropriate change will provide a resolution.
It’s no secret that we are living in the Golden Age of Mobile Devices. In fact, 70% of search engine queries are performed on a smartphone. Google recognizes this too and has put more and more emphasis on how well a site adapts to mobile screen sizes and capabilities. To ensure that your site meets these criteria, choose a theme with responsiveness built in and utilize design elements like flat, legible text in larger sizes and images that change size with your screen.
Security is a huge concern in the tech world today. For this reason Google penalizes websites that have not taken security measures and rewards those who have. Purchase and implementation of an SSL certificate indicates a safer site. Luckily, if your site isn’t secure, it’s an easy fix—you can purchase an SSL certificate through your domain provider or hosting partner.
Interactivity is one of two new benchmarks used in determining the page experience metric. This is measured as the time between a user interaction, such as a click or tap, and when the browser begins processing that action (source). You can optimize this by reducing page speed. Sites foster faster interaction when they are not bogged down with large images, broken links, or other problems.
The other new metric is visual stability, or preventing unexpected movement of page content. This is particularly important on mobile. You want to prevent pop-ups, announcement bars, or other features from shifting your content, which could lead to user frustration and impact your bounce rate. Your chosen layout should not shift in order to improve user experience.
Why is Page Experience Algorithm Important?
It’s important that website developers and managers are aware of Google algorithm changes because any time modifications occur, search engine rankings are in danger of falling. The page experience update in particular signals a significant shift in Google’s priorities, as they move away from elements such as backlinks and citations to focus more on usability.
The Time is Now
It’s rare that the team at Google gives website developers this much insight into an algorithm change ahead of time. That means this is a good opportunity to optimize your page early—and you may even be able to minimize the drop in rankings that this update could bring. If you’re ready to prep your business site for the Page Experience update, contact the Media Venue digital team today. Enhance your marketing investment with Media Venue!
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About Our Blogger
Sarah Kelley is the newest member of the Media Venue team and brings with her a wealth of insight. Her specialty is using SEO best practices to cultivate your business’s online presence. Her in-depth knowledge of website content and design allow her to constantly implement new and effective practices in her work.