Google’s New Algorithm Putting the Spotlight on Page Experience
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Google’s at it again. It’s making more changes to the algorithm. It’s estimated that the search engine makes around 500-600 algorithm changes every year – but some are more significant than others. And this is one of them.
In 2021, we reported on how Google made Core Web Vitals a major ranking factor. The same year, they announced the roll-out of their Mobile Page Experience update. In March 2022, a page experience rollout to desktop search results was completed.
Dig into what’s happening and what it means for SEO with Abstract.
What’s happening with the algorithm?
The roll-out took 9 days to complete, finishing up on March 3rd 2022.
We’re now getting access to the desktop version of the Google Page Experience update. The new update will use the same ranking factors (aside from mobile-friendliness) as the mobile page experience update in 2021.
The desktop update will take into account:
- Core Web Vitals:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
- First Input Delay (FID)
- HTTPS Security
- Absence of intrusive interstitials (intrusive ads)
So, if your website doesn’t meet some of the above criteria, you won’t notice a ranking boost on desktop following the algorithm change. Plus, if your competitors do meet the new criteria, they could overtake you in search results.
Aside from that, we don’t expect this to have a massive impact on rankings. Google itself has said:
“...while this update is designed to highlight pages that offer great user experiences, page experience remains one of many factors our systems take into account. Given this, sites generally should not expect drastic changes. In addition, because we’re doing this as a gradual rollout, we will be able to monitor for any unexpected or unintended issues."
However – before you skip away feeling satisfied that this won’t affect you, do keep in mind that Google makes algo changes to reflect user demands. In other words, your website’s security, presence of intrusive pop-ups and core web vitals (speed, responsiveness and visual stability) all impact bounce rate. And that does matter to SEO. (Sort of).
How do bounce rates affect SEO?
Google wants to be sure users are satisfied when they land on a web page – are they engaging with said page or are they exiting without visiting any other pages (bouncing)?
Now, Google has repeatedly told us not to worry about bounce rate for SEO purposes. But here’s our take on it. If your site has a high bounce rate, this could signal other inefficiencies, such as a slow load speed, poor design, bad content or confusing navigation. It could also mean you’re targeting the wrong keywords and sending low-quality traffic to your website.
So, while bounce rate alone doesn’t directly affect your ranking, it’s worth chatting to an SEO consultant to uncover why your visitors aren’t sticking around.
Here’s how you can improve page experience
The page experience algorithm update is in place to encourage website owners to optimise for the factors that make the web more enjoyable to use. The idea is that your users can interact with your site with less friction, for a better online experience and therefore, more digital success for businesses.
To put it simply: Google wants the sites users love most to rank at the top.
To reach those top spots, consider the key desktop page experience signals and use them to your advantage.
1. Check your web vitals
Let’s touch on each CWV briefly.
• Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – how quickly does the largest content element load? Ideally, this should sit at 2.5 seconds or less.
• First Input Delay (FID) – how quickly does your web page become interactive? Aim for less than 100ms.
• Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – does your visual content unexpectedly shift around the page? Visual stability is the aim here.
•Don’t forget to make use of other Google tools like PageSpeed Insights, Lighthouse and Chrome DevTools as well as Search Console for an in-depth analysis of core web vitals.
2. Have HTTPS security in place
Your domain should have HTTPS – not HTTP – in front of it. This signals a good level of security to Google, as does a padlock symbol in the search bar. Google doesn’t want to rank websites that aren’t secure, especially as users are increasingly aware of privacy and data security when they surf the web.
Enabling HTTPS is pretty straightforward. Here’s a guide from GoDaddy to help.
3. Get rid of intrusive interstitials
“Intrusive interstitials” translated into non-digital speak just means content that disrupts the stuff your user was expecting. For example, they come along to read a blog but are bombarded with popups and banners that make it difficult to read that blog at all, unless they click off everything else.
We’ve all experienced it – it’s intrusive and it’s annoying, right? If you are using popups, consider how they fit into your page’s design and make sure they’re not blocking users from engaging seamlessly with your content.
Want to keep the search engines on your side?
That was a rhetorical question.
Every online business wants to keep the search engines on side.
Our SEO services include not only an in-depth analysis of your current search performance, but they also involve consistent improvements to your online presence and a guarantee that we’ll stay on top of algorithm changes and best practices.
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