How Will Google Page Experience Impact SEO in 2021?

Carmen Apostu
November 12, 2020 ·
Google page experience representation

Google recently announced page experience signals will become a major ranking factor starting May 2021.

In a move to improve the quality of site content that the Google search index displays to its users, the new page experience update will push marketers and search engine optimizers to up their game and create more meaningful experiences. Not only will this affect rankings, but also force websites to clear all the new metrics set by Google that are necessary to pass off as a great user experience-providing website.

Read on to see what exactly the new Google page experience update brings to the table and how it will impact SEO.

What Is Page Experience?

As per Google,

Page experience is a set of signals that measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its pure information value. It includes Core Web Vitals, which is a set of metrics that measure real-world user experience for loading performance, interactivity, and visual stability of the page. It also includes existing Search signals: mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS, and intrusive interstitial guidelines.

Put simply, Google is updating the algorithm it uses to gauge how useful and relevant your website is.

With the page experience update in 2021, Google looks to ensure that search results are more relevant to users and that the content is qualitative and authoritative.

This update is about to shift the way marketers use SEO to rank high in search results.

What Google Qualifies As Great Page Experience

The update revisits what qualifies as a relevant, high-quality page experience. Here are the individual factors Google uses to assess overall page experience:

  1. Mobile Compatibility: Evaluation based on how well your website functions on a mobile phone. You can check your mobile-friendliness index on the official test provided by Google here.
  2. Safe Browsing: To ensure that the page doesn’t include any malicious content (for instance, malware) or deception (for instance, social engineering). You can check if the site has any safe-browsing issues with the Security Issues report.
  3. HTTPS Security: HTTPS websites account for 70.4% of voice search result pages. This is going to matter to developers because of Google’s ambition to penalize non-secure websites. An HTTPS secure site is a non-negotiable standard when it comes to Google.
  4. Intrusive Interstitial Guidelines: An extensive set of guidelines to ensure that the content is easily accessible to the searcher of the page.
  5. Core Web Vitals: Core Web Vitals measure dimensions of web usability like loading time, interactivity, and the stability of content as it loads.

The easiest way to see how well your website fares is to check the Core Web Vitals report in your organization’s Search Console. Once you’ve identified the pages that need to be optimized, you can use Google developer tools like Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights to dive deeper into what needs to be fixed.

  1. Dwell Time: The duration or time spent by a searcher on a page.
  2. Site Load Speed: How quickly a webpage loads on the searcher’s device.

Do Content And SEO Still Matter With This Update?

Yes, they do. Google still considers good content as an essential factor for website ranking. Since the main goal is to deliver more valuable browsing experiences to users, stellar content with intelligent SEO will remain unparalleled among the rest of the factors mentioned in the section above.

As per Google,

While all of the components of page experience are important, we will prioritize pages with the best information overall, even if some aspects of page experience are subpar. A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content. However, in cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search.

Why Is The New Page Experience Important For Optimizers?

In 2019, Google accounted for just over 75% of all global desktop search traffic, followed by Bing at 9.97%, Baidu at 9.34%, and Yahoo at 2.77%. This means your audience likely finds you through Google. To hit your CTR and conversions targets, you need to play by Google’s rules and prioritize page experience.

If you’re hoping that your backlinks and buttoned up codes on the page bring you better results in rankings, you’re in for a grand toss, because from 2021, it will no longer be the main criteria to boost your visibility.

The good news is that if previously you couldn’t bring people to your website organically, this is an opportunity to rank higher even if you aren’t already well known. Google is bringing its operations in alignment with its original motto, which was to show users the pages and content that is most relevant and useful to them.

Google Search has been used 62.19 billion times this year. From a customer’s perspective, the update is great news, since the results will be more targeted and the pages more user friendly. This means there will be no place for confusing navigation, duplication, cloaking, and other sketchy practices that frustrate a user.

From an optimizer’s perspective, this is the time to reassess your optimization strategies and prioritize user experience. Since the update was announced way ahead of time, we may very well consider the implications of the indirect warning towards unfair and overdone methods of optimizing.

If you already have an experimentation program in place, you will need to pay closer attention to the new signals known as Core Web Vitals. Have you optimized your website to deliver a superior page loading experience? Are your site’s interactivity and responsiveness leading to a positive first impression? Besides the tools mentioned above, make use of the heat mapping, A/B testing, and analytics tools in your arsenal to gauge how well you fare and take your CRO strategy to the next level.

The Impact of Page Experience on CRO and A/B Testing

Page authority and relevancy will become the name of the game. In this context, A/B testing is more important than ever as its ultimate purpose is to give users the best experience possible. The page experience update acts as a magnifier in the case of CRO and A/B testing: it’s an opportunity to experiment with what the audience responds positively to in terms of design, functionality, interactivity, speed, and quickly adapt to visitor preferences.

The new Google page experience update has also created the perfect opportunity for search engine optimizers and conversion rate optimizers to work together. Optimizing page speed, loading time, interactivity, visual stability, and mobile-friendliness are no longer nice-to-haves, but must-haves.

The Google Page Experience Update: A Head Start And Golden Opportunity For Optimizers

Google has made its stance clear about the way the new page experience update is meant to benefit the visitor.

Considering the official update will be launched in May 2021 after it was announced in May 2020, it is clear that Google has given optimizers a fair head start. You’ve been warned. If you don’t want to drop in rankings next year, it’s time to fine-tune your website, run A/B tests, and tie up loose ends before the update is rolled out.

Originally published November 12, 2020 - Updated November 10, 2022
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Carmen Apostu
Carmen Apostu Full-time problem solver with a knack for writing and an eye for detail.
Carmen Apostu
Carmen Apostu In her role as Head of Content at Convert, Carmen is dedicated to delivering top-notch content that people can’t help but read through. Connect with Carmen on LinkedIn for any inquiries or requests.

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