24 Feb What Your Business Can Do Now To Prepare For Google’s May 2021 Algorithm Update
Focus on User’s Page Experience to Prep for Google’s Algorithm Update
Your business is already working hard to elbow it’s way to the top of Google searches – churning out quality content, SEO-driven text, and strategic online marketing campaigns. But as Google rolls out its new algorithm update in May 2021, Page Experience moves up as an important factor impacting your page rankings and visibility.
The new metrics will help your site “win the tie-breaker with better user experience” against others with similar results to the same search query, according to SEMrush. In addition to the hundreds of considerations Google uses to determine rankings, Page Experience will play a key role. And improving these areas on your site now, before the update rolls out in May, means you won’t be left scrambling to catch up.
3 Core Web Vitals for User Experience
Google outlines three major Core Web Vitals as you make these user-centric updates. Measuring these page experiences across both mobile and desktop devices is key.
- Loading – Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures how fast your page loads on the screen. Google recommends a load time of 2.5 seconds or less for main content in order to provide a good user experience.
- Interactivity – The First Input Delay (FIP) measures the time from when a user interacts with the page to when the browser is able to process that interaction – such as clicking a “shop store” or “chat now” button and the site’s ability to actually process the interaction. The goal is an FID of 100 milliseconds or less.
- Visual stability – Aiming for a low Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) score of 0.1 means your site’s elements are visually stable and won’t impede the user interactions – aka, the annoying text shift or moving graphic just as users attempt to click a button or link.
Bulking Up Existing Google Search Signals
The new Google algorithm will also give weight to existing signals that influence a user’s web page experience. According to Google, shoring up these four areas will help improve your site’s ranking.
- Mobile-friendliness – About 55 percent of all web views are via mobile device, making a positive user experience on phones a top priority. Check your page with the Mobile-Friendly Test.
- Safe browsing – Does your site contain any malicious malware or deceptive content (like revealing confidential information or downloading software)? Check with the Security Issues Report.
- HTTPS – Check the security of your site and make sure your site is served over HTTPS (verses the unsecure HTTP).
- No intrusive interstitials – Ensure that critical page content is not obstructed by these intrusive interstitials (essentially pop-up ads that cover entire page content that lead to a bad user experience).
How to Test and Improve Page Experience
Google offers plenty of tools for you to evaluate how your current website measures up. It’s time to gather your team – IT, web developers and designers, and your digital marketing experts – to conduct an audit and work through the recommended changes. Google announced this change in mid-2020, anticipating this update will require time and work of businesses — but getting ahead of Google’s May update ensures your site stays in the game.
- Start with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and Page Speed Insights to check performance across devices.
- For immediate improvements, experts at Search Engine Watch recommend starting with these four areas: mobile search optimization, page speed, alternate text for images, and separate Calls to Action. Whether a button or text, the CTA should be short, specific, and clear on what action users should take – buy now, sign up, download now, learn more.
- Perform a Core Web Vitals report, which will provide assessments for both mobile and desktop for LCP, FIP and CLS as Poor, Needs improvement or Good. These factors highly influence your bounce rates – if your page takes 3 seconds verses 1 second, bounce rates increase 32%. Focus on the “poor” areas in the most vital areas first (speed and mobile-friendliness).
Don’t Abandon Good Content
Finally, not to beat the drum of “content, content, content,” but you need to continue providing quality content that offers value to your users.
“While page experience is important, Google still seeks to rank pages with the best information overall, even if the page experience is subpar,” states Google on their blog. “Great page experience doesn’t override having great page content.”
It’s probably past time for a website check-up, and Google’s algorithm update is simply speeding up the process. The goal is to create a website that offers the best of both worlds: outstanding content and a positive page experience. Gather your team and work the next three months to get your page assessment in the green/good category – your users will thank you and your rankings will benefit.
Graphic source: Search Engine Journal