The term “user experience”, also referred to as “UX”, often comes up when having a chat about web pages. It is a known fact that UX holds a high position on the list of important factors that add to the success of a web page and it is about to become even more important in the context of web design.
Too often users leave web pages out of frustration and a negative user experience. We could go on with the many instances that lead to user frustration, but the first ones that come to mind are slow loading times, badly designed user interfaces and pages that shift in place as they load (which distracts from the content on the page). At last, Google has taken note of these and intuitive, user-friendly page design is now on Google’s radar as far as web page experience is concerned.
This past week Google announced that there will be an upcoming Google Search ranking change – namely that “page experience” will become a signal that will affect the ranking of Google Search results.
Google introduces page experience as a set of signals that measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page further than its pure content value. The impact of the new signals is that Google will start factoring UX into its Search results (as well as in the top stories feature in mobile Search). Therefore, Google is no longer simply optimizing for information that is closest to your keywords but optimizing for a more enchanting web.
The new ranking factor will include quantifiable metrics related to the loading performance, interactivity, and visual stability of web pages – these are also collectively known as the Core Web Vitals. It also includes existing Search signals such as mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS, and intrusive pop-up windows. Hence, these are new metrics should be measured by all site owners.
Unpacking how Google will analyse these metrics can be quite tricky, but the long and the short of it is that web pages should load within 2.5 seconds, users should be able to interact with a web page within 100 microseconds, and a page should maintain a cumulative layout shift of less than 0.1 (this means that the page should be visually stable and should not unexpectedly shift around).
To ensure that you’re reaching the recommended target for each of the above metrics, a good threshold to measure is the 75th percentile of page loads, segmented across mobile and desktop devices.
Google has stated that the ranking changes won’t happen until 2021, and the company will provide at least six months’ notice before they’re rolled out. But then again, it’s not too early to see how your web page currently hitting the mark.
Below are some useful tools to help you measure and monitor your current page experience:
Measure your Core Web Vitals here.
Check to see if your site is mobile-friendly here.
Check to see if your site has any safe-browsing issues here.
Check to see if your site’s connection is safe here.
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