Important time of the year coming up! No—not taxes… I’m referring to the Google Page Experience algorithm updates.
In May, Google’s expected to release some significant changes to their algorithm and it’s going to have some pretty big impacts to how websites and pages get ranked in search results.
In this article, I want to break down the important aspects of these updates and provide you with some tools to help improve and test your webpage performance heading into May.
What is Google Page Experience and Why Is It Important?
In this year’s major updates, Google Page Experience will be placing even more emphasis on page performance. This means technical performance (how quickly pages load and how visual elements display on various device sizes)—as well as other factors that impact user experience.
Among the algorithm tweaks—Google has highlighted three metrics that will play a more significant role in how webpages get ranked.
They refer to these as Core Web Vitals.
What are Core Web Vitals?
In addition to existing factors that Google already analyzed and scored for—like mobile friendliness, HTTPs/encryption, etc.—”the algorithm” will now place greater significance on each page’s technical performance.
These Core Web Vitals are related to page load speed, time to interactivity, and visual layout—which all have an impact on page (and user) experience..
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
Largest Contentful Paint essentially just measures the time it takes for the LARGEST visible element on your webpage to load. AKA load speed. That may be a hero image, slider, or a banner with text and a content form. Whatever the largest visual block is—it needs to be finished loading quickly in order to provide the best possible user experience.
If you can keep LCP under 2.5 seconds on every page—you should be in good shape.
First Input Delay (FID)
First Input Delay measures interactivity—or the time it takes for your website (server) to respond when a visitor first makes an interaction on a webpage. That may be clicking a navigation element, a button, or entering information into a form.
Regardless—if you can keep FID under 100ms (not much time) you’ll get a passing grade from Google.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Lastly, Cumulative Layout Shift. This measures visual stability on each of your pages. I’m sure that you’ve visited a webpage before—whether on your computer or smartphone—and had elements on the page shift and move around.. Inevitably, right as you go to click something, one of those elements shifts down and gets in your way—and you get routed somewhere you never intended.
CLS ensures a good user experience by measuring how much movement occurs on each webpage. Look to keep this measurement below 0.1.
I know what you’re thinking… What does that mean and how do I measure these Core Web Vitals?
Tools To Measure Page Speed
Of course—Google has a tool for that. If you run a business online or manage a website, you’re probably familiar with the following tools:
Both of these tools are free to use and can help you in your journey to measure and improve your webpage performance.
Tools To Improve User Experience
While these new metrics focus largely on technical page performance—the underlying theme for the Google algorithm updates is that Page (and User) Experience is going to play an increasingly important role in ranking.
So… You should continue to improve the technical performance of your webpages—but also—pay attention to how users are interacting with each page to improve their experience. For that, we’re going to need a different set of tools.
Hotjar and CrazyEgg are two great heatmap and analytics tools that will enable you to measure and improve the experience on each page of your website. By leveraging tools like these—you’ll be able to make data-driven decisions improvements to your webpages. For instance—where/how to change visual elements, Call To Actions (CTAs), or even headlines in order to have the biggest impact. And optimize each visitor’s experience.
More Website Performance Optimization Tips For Google Page Experience
Finally, If you’ve tried to improve your webpage performance but just can’t seem to get your scores into the green, you may need to consider different measures. Particularly if you’re currently using a “budget” hosting provider—it may be time to consider bumping up to a managed or performance website hosting provider.
Not only do these managed hosting packages provide 24/7 support in case you run into any website issues—you also get significantly better performance when compared to budget offerings…
Remember the old adage “you get what you pay for.”
Alternatively—you can find an agency like SequoiaCX. There are lots of agencies out there that can help you with everything from website hosting and maintenance to content management and updates to performance optimization.
If you need help or just have a question—don’t hesitate to contact us.
For more information on timing of the Google Page Experience update—you can go straight to the source.
For more on maximizing your website performance and making sure your site performs well with the Google Page Experience updates—check out our blog on Website Performance Optimization.
The Ultimate Website Optimization Checklist
We created this resource to help you make the most of your website and online presence. Inside, we cover over 34+ critical website elements across four (4) categories.