Google’s June 2021 Core update had a huge impact on search rankings of websites across categories. Websites across the board saw an average position drop of 16 positions. Sites that saw the highest visibility gains were mainly in F&C, Law & Government as well as Internet and Telecom Sectors.

Following close on the heels of the core update, Google announced the rollout of the June 2021 Google Page Experience update. This update takes into account a range of signals on a webpage that indicates the level of user-friendliness it offers. Website owners need to determine the extent to which their pages match these requirements in order to maintain their position on Search.

Google Page Experience update takes into account a range of signals on a webpage that indicates the level of user-friendliness it offers.

So, what signals does the Page Experience monitor, and do you need to drastically overhaul your website development and design?

Google Page Experience ranking factors

The Page Experience update isn’t a whole new set of ranking factors that Google is introducing, but rather, is a grouping of ranking factors that have long been followed. Simply put, if your website is already optimized, you might not have to make too many changes because of the update.

With this latest update, Google has identified critical factors that can impact the user experience. It takes into account off-page factors such as loading time as well as on-page factors like non-intrusive visuals and clean UX. The top Google Page Experience ranking signals of 2021 can be broken down into:

1.Core web vitals  

 The inclusion of Google core web vitals is arguably one of the biggest announcements of the Page Experience update. Core web vitals were first introduced in May 2020 and their increasing importance has created a huge buzz within the SEO community. Google core web vitals comprise of three main factors:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This is the first layer of the page that is loaded and contains the main content of the page. Ideally, the LCP of a webpage should be under 2.5 seconds.
  • First Input Delay (FIP): This is how long it takes for the page’s interactive elements, such as CTA buttons, to respond to a user. The optimal response time should be within 100 ms.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS):This metric measures the visual stability of a page. When images and graphics load, there is expected to be some change in the overall layout of the page, but this shift should be minimal. Google recommends a CLS score of less than 0.1.

2. Mobile-friendliness

With mobile searches outnumbering desktop searches, mobile-first pages, understandably, continue to be prioritized by Google. AMP was considered the gold standard for mobile-friendliness, but Google has now announced that it will drop the AMP badge for pages.

Despite these conflicting signals, mobile-friendly design and loading speed continue to be some of the top-ranking signals for Google. Google has floated the possibility of introducing new badges that indicate the quality of experience a webpage offers, but there have been no concrete announcements so far.

3. Website safety

Another long-standing ranking signal, website safety has been included as one of the factors for Page Experience. The most obvious safety measure to have is, of course, an SSL certificate and an https address. Other safety threats that Google is looking at include the presence of malware or misleading content that can trick users into providing sensitive information such as their credit card number or contact details.

4. Ads displayed

Page Experience also looks at how many ads are displayed on your page at any one time. Too many display or pop-up ads can come in the way of the user consuming the website’s content and are therefore a negative signal with the latest update.

Google Page Experience reports on GSC  

Along with the update, Google has rolled out a new feature on Google Search Console that lets site owners access specific reports on Page Experience. Each of the Page Experience ranking factors is listed in the report along with the website’s performance against them. You can also identify the pages on your website that score highest or lowest in terms of Page Experience to prioritize which ones need attention.

Is the Page Experience a Google algorithm update?  

Yes, the Page Experience update of 2021 includes Google core web vitals, but this is not to be confused with a core update. Core updates include broad changes to the Google algorithm for SEO. Typically after a core update, websites can experience fluctuations in their rankings. The Page Experience update, on the other hand, is simply the inclusion of ranking signals and does not change Google’s algorithm for SEO drastically.

Will my page rankings drop after the update?  

The Google Page Experience update is expected to be rolled out very gradually, so you are unlikely to see any changes in your rankings overnight.

In an announcement of the Page Experience update, Google likened the update to adding flavoring to food. Rather than dumping in all the spices at once, you add them gradually over the course of cooking the dish. Similarly, the Page Experience update will be introduced very slowly, possibly in an effort to understand its efficacy and make necessary changes. This gives websites ample time to ensure that their website meets the requirements of the new update.

The Page Experience update will be introduced very slowly, possibly in an effort to understand its efficacy and make necessary changes. This gives websites ample time to ensure that their website meets the requirements of the new update.

The Page Experience update is an important step towards providing the best browsing experience to users, but Google maintains that high-quality, authoritative content remains the most important ranking factor for websites. With the July 2021 core update soon to come, the best way forward for websites is to use the update as a way to provide a smoother user experience to site visitors but continue to focus on delivering quality relevant content that accurately addresses search queries.