For the past six months, website developers and SEO professionals have been sounding the alarm regarding Google’s upcoming algorithm update. Known as the “Page Experience update,” this change to Google’s algorithm was set to roll out in May 2021. Now, Google has announced a slight delay in the update’s launch, giving business owners and webmasters a bit more time to prepare.
Let’s take a closer look at the latest developments surrounding this algorithm change, as well as the key considerations to keep in mind when updating your website to align with Google’s best practices moving forward.
Google Postpones Update Until Mid-June 2021
In late April 2021, Google made an official announcement that the Page Experience update wouldn’t take place in May as originally planned. Instead, Google will use its page experience metrics as part of its ranking systems beginning in mid-June 2021. This rollout will be gradual, according to Google, and won’t take full effect until August of this year.
As Google pointed out in its blog post, “You can think of it as if you’re adding a flavoring to a food you’re preparing. Rather than add the flavor all at once into the mix, we’ll be slowly adding it all over this time period.”
Google hopes that by delaying the update and opting for a slow and steady approach, website owners will be in a better position to make pertinent changes and monitor potential issues. The company also hopes to minimize any drastic ranking changes with this approach and will provide ongoing guidance to help site owners provide a better page experience for visitors.
What to Know About Google’s Core Web Vitals
Google updates its algorithm hundreds of times a year. These updates aim to improve the search experience for users and can often impact site rankings as a result. We may not always know when an update has taken place or when one is coming, but Google did us the favor of letting us know about the Page Experience update in advance.
In general, the Page Experience update is meant to address specific characteristics that can either make or break a visitor’s impression of (and interaction with) a given webpage or website. Some of these factors aren’t exactly new; website security, mobile friendliness, and a lack of intrusive interstitials have long since been a part of creating a great user experience. But Google has included some brand new concepts as part of this rollout, known as its Core Web Vitals.
These Core Web Vitals have been around for a year now, but they might not yet be on your radar. They’ll certainly be included when the update takes effect this summer, so you’ll want to familiarize yourself with them and address them by making any applicable changes to your site. The Core Web Vitals include:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This metric refers to the amount of time it takes for the biggest piece of content on a page (which is often a visual element) to load completely. It’s basically a way to measure the loading performance of a given page. A page’s LCP rate should ideally be less than 2.5 seconds.
- First Input Delay (FID): This metric involves interactivity — specifically, the amount of time it takes for the elements on a page to provide their intended features (like clickable buttons). A page’s FID should be lower than 100 milliseconds for best results.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): If you’ve ever seen a loading page jump around and change its layout, you’ll understand how jarring these shifts can be. Understandably, a layout shift can disrupt the user experience. Your CLS score throughout a page’s entire lifespan should be lower than 0.1.
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How to Get Your Website Ready Now
Now that you know a bit more about what Google will be looking for once this update takes place, your next step will involve preparing your website for what’s to come. Here are just a few things you can do to get your website ready and ensure you’re providing a solid experience for site visitors.
- Use the Google Search Console’s Page Experience report to learn more about current page performance
- Ensure your website is truly mobile-friendly and accessible across all devices
- Improve your site’s loading speed (compress images, eliminate unnecessary codes, and enable browser caching, for starters)
- Obtain HTTPS certification and bolster your website security
- Identify pages with high bounce rates and troubleshoot to limit site abandonment
- Limit your site’s use of pop-ups and eliminate any intrusive interstitials
- Fix broken links, webpage errors, and navigation issues
- Keep creating high-quality content with an emphasis on E.A.T. (expertise, authority, and trustworthiness)
As of now, we may not see major drops or boosts in rankings as a result of this update. But over time, we will see the effects — and you’ll want your site to be ready for whatever happens. By keeping this information in mind and taking a proactive approach, you’ll provide an even better experience for visitors while maintaining (or even improving) your search engine rankings.
About the Author
This blog post was written by Semify, a team of marketing professionals who focus on supporting agencies as a white-label SEO and PPC solution.