Those who work in search engine optimization (SEO) or website design know that Google adjusts its search algorithms pretty frequently, usually with tweaks too small to even notice. Every now and then, the search engineers trot out a truly significant algorithmic overhaul that sends the entire industry into a frenzy; the Google Penguin and Google Panda updates are a couple of historic examples.
Soon, Google will be unveiling another fairly robust algorithmic update, this one devoted to the concept of Page Experience. What’s unique about this update is that, for the first time ever, Google is actually giving us all some time to prepare. Rather than spring the update on us overnight, Google is promising a six-month lead time, something that’s pretty unprecedented in the history of algorithmic updates.
So when precisely will the Google Page Experience update transpire? All we know right now is that it will be sometime in 2021, and that Google will alert us when we’re six months out. The fact that Google is offering this heads up may mean that they’ve listened to the concerns of frustrated SEOs, tired of being caught flat-footed by these algorithmic shifts; or, it may mean that this is an especially impactful update that requires a lot of advanced preparation.
What We Know About the Page Experience Update
So what else do we actually know about this looming update?
The focus of the update is on how users perceive their experience on an individual webpage. Google has provided some detailed information about the specific criteria that will be used to make this determination, and we encourage all website developers and SEO professionals to read this document carefully. With that said, a lot of what’s on it is probably pretty intuitive: To ensure you’re providing website users with an optimal page experience, it’s important to verify the page loads quickly, works properly on mobile sites, is correctly encrypted for maximum data security, doesn’t have a lot of annoying ads or pop-ups, etc.
If all of this sounds like something that Google’s search algorithms should already be accounting for, that’s partially correct. The Google Page Experience update combines a number of previous, smaller updates to Google, including the Page Speed update, the mobile-friendly update, the HTTPS ranking boost, and more. Additionally, the update helps to refine and consolidate Google’s standards with regard to page speed and ease of use.
All of these refinements exist under what Google calls its Core Web Vitals… that is, real-world, user-centric metrics that are scored for each website, helping developers and site owners see how Google evaluates their load time, content stability, and interactivity.
Preparing for the Google Page Experience Update
Basically, Google is going further than they’ve ever gone before to encourage developers to really put the user experience first, and to ensure that websites provide a positive experience for the end user.
So what are the steps that developers and SEOs can take now, to start preparing? To begin with, it’s worth reiterating that this update isn’t coming particularly soon, and you’ll have some advance notice to make any necessary changes to your website.
Second, we’ll affirm what we’ve said many times before, which is that if you put your effort into developing a website that consumers will actually want to visit, that’s probably going to get you to where you need to be in order to please the Google search algorithms. They’re not looking for gimmicks, tricks, or technical SEO wizardry here; what they’re looking for is content that’s easy to use, doesn’t cause your browser to crash, and doesn’t take forever to load.
With all of that said, the Google Core Web Vitals report is now available in the Search Console. If you want to see whether you’re set for this update or need to make some modifications, downloading this report is a pretty good place to start.
How Big of an Update Will This Be?
To wrap up this discussion, let’s turn back to one of the questions we broached earlier: Is this shaping up to be a pretty massive update, or a comparatively minor one?
There’s not yet a clear answer to that question. We know, for instance, that Google Panda impacted almost 12 percent of all search queries, and other updates have resulted in similarly high percentages. Google isn’t divulging how many queries they think will be affected by the Page Experience update. What they are telling developers is that high-quality website content will continue to be the most important consideration of all.
We’ll keep you posted on any additional news or rumblings from Google. In the meantime, if you have questions about what this update might mean, or how you might prepare for it, we’d love to hear from you. Reach out to enCOMPASS Agency today, and let us help you make sure your website is ready for the new Google Page Experience update.
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