Have you heard that Google is now ranking your website based on how well they perceive a user will experience it?
Imagine each user who visits your website is a customer entering a storefront — how quickly are their needs met? Did they get lost while looking for what they wanted?
To encourage websites to create the best experience they can for their users, Google has combined a set of search signals into a new category called Page Experience. While these signals were already affecting your page ranking, Google’s algorithm is now putting more emphasis onto them when ranking your page.
Now, what exactly are Page Experience signals?
A great place to start looking at improving the page experience of your users is the three core web vitals from Google.
According to case studies from Google, one of the largest contributors to an increase in bounce rate, how quickly a user leaves your website after viewing only one page, is a slow page loading speed. Google found that if a page load time changes from 1 second to 3 seconds, then the bounce rate increases by 32% and if there is a change from 1 second to 6 seconds, bounce rate increases by 106%. A clear indicator of a bad user experience.
Next is First Input Delay. This signal measures how long it takes for a user to interact with the content on a page. Depending on what type of content you provide, this can be quite important. For example, if you run a blog with mainly written content then the FID metrics will include interactions such as scrolling or zooming in on a mobile device — not too important to measure. But if your content requires a user to interact quickly, such as browsing through a slideshow of pictures or using a dropdown menu to select options, then how quickly the user begins interacting on your page becomes very important.
Finally, if your page elements move around while your page is loading, then the user can get confused and have to relearn where the different elements are being placed. The visual stability of the page should be clear to the user right away.
To further improve user experience, having SSL installed on your website has become the new industry standard. This keeps users’ information private and secure while reassuring the user that your website is not malicious or deceptive.
While we always need to be careful sharing our information online, Google is incentivizing websites to increase the security of their site by including this signal into the Page Experience category to affect your ranking.
Have you ever visited a website on a mobile device and found it difficult to navigate? Buttons are too small and the whole site feels clunky? Not the best page experience, wouldn’t you agree? As a part of this push to improve the experience for users, Google has included mobile friendly into the mix.
It’s very easy to become too fixated on how your website looks on a desktop and neglect how it looks on a mobile device. Think of how many people use a mobile device every day — when developing a website, be sure to test your website out on mobile devices and ask yourself if it feels smooth and displays well with the right proportions.
Intrusive Interstitial Content
Typically, this content comes in the form of a pop-up window after a page loads. You could be using it as an email subscription call to action, age verification, or a cookie usage reminder. Now before you panic and start removing your interstitial content, these can be good or bad.
With Google’s new emphasis on Page Experience, the keyword is ‘intrusive’ interstitial content. If a user loads a page and has a window pop-up, can they easily click a button for it to go away or are they lost looking for the smallest ‘x’ that is the same colour as the pop-up itself?
This content is perfectly okay as long as you give the user clear options to close the window and return to the original page whether it is an ‘Accept’ or ‘Okay’ button, an age verification field to fill in, or a simple close button. Don’t trap your users with an intrusive pop-up — let them move on to discover the rest of what your website has to offer.
Here are some examples from Google.
While all of these Page Experience signals were already best practice for constructing a high quality website, Google’s algorithm is now simply weighing them higher than before.
Keep in mind, it is still imperative to follow traditional SEO tactics such as providing your users with accurate, detailed, and high quality content through writing, images, and video — the emphasis on Page Experience is to continue Google’s mission to best match queries in their search engine with high quality websites that provide a great experience for the user.
If you feel that you need support in any or all of the areas above, then don’t hesitate to connect with us today.