What the May 2021 Google Algorithm Update Means for Your Pages
The latest Google algorithm update is coming in May 2021, and it will focus on Page experience. They announced this latest development recently and have provided some details on how it will affect rankings.
Google also plans to debut Web Vitals – a set of criteria for gauging and hopefully improving a user’s experience with a website.
What is Page Experience?
Page experience is comprised of all facets of user interaction with your website or page – for good or ill. Google will measure this experience through its search signals and the metrics in its Web Vitals. Currently, we know that the rating will be heavily influenced by at least three major factors:
- Load Speed, specifically, perceived load speed, or the point in the page load timeline when the main content has loaded. According to Google itself, as page load time goes from one second to ten seconds, the chance of bouncing increases by a whopping 123 percent. It’s also best to keep a page clean and simple, since increasing the elements on the page from 400 to 6000 destroys conversion rates – dropping the probability of conversion as much as 95 percent.
- Interactivity, as measured by the time between a user action like a click and how long it takes for the browser to process that action.
- Visual stability measures unintentional movement of page content.
Visual Indicators of Page are Experience Are in the Works
By next year, Google plans to roll out an indicator that will allow users to quickly and easily identify pages that meet all of their user experience requirements
Many sites will have already optimized these aspects, and while they have always had an influence on rankings, Google’s latest development will take them together, amplifying their cumulative impact on organic search results. This might take the form of something similar to the search engine’s previous slow and mobile-friendly labels, though there’s no information yet on exactly what these labels or icons will look like. One thing is clear, though: Google is intent on rewarding pages that meet their page experience expectations and penalizing those that don’t. It isn’t difficult to predict that pages that Google bestows their icon or indicator to will see greater traffic than those that don’t make the cut.
Content is Still King
For some readers, the takeaway might be that optimizing the three previous aspects of a page will result in a huge boost to rankings and a major increase in traffic, but be aware that Google’s blog itself has stated that
“Great page experience doesn’t override having great page content.”
There’s still no shortcut to rankings that doesn’t involve content creation. But if you’re competing with a page offering similar content to yours, checking the page experience boxes will give you and edge, no doubt.
You can’t afford to ignore these new metrics, because the upcoming visual indicators will guide users to some pages over others. Not only does page experience keep your visitors engaged and make a good impression of you and your business, but Google is clear that these aspects will influence ranking, and pages with poor user experience – as set by these guidelines – will certainly see their listings sliding to the bottom of the search results page.
The smartest strategy for any site owner or developer would be to work on improving these factors now, especially considering that aside from Google’s judgment, fixing page experience problems can only result in a more enjoyable interaction with your visitors and customers.
Improving Page Experience Ahead of the Launch
It’s never a page thing to improve the way your site or page conveys information to customers, and with the new algorithm Google plans to launch, it will be crucial to maintaining or improving your rank. Here are some steps you can take to not only create a better experience for your visitors, but stay ahead of the new metrics.
- To exploit the metrics to their fullest, you need to understand them. So far, these will include LCP (Largest Contentful Paint), CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift), and FID (First Input Delay). You can read up on these measurements here.
- Perform a site audit based on what you’ve learned, optimizing for the new measurements like UX, load speed, responsiveness, and security.
- Optimize for mobile search. Mobile search accounts for over half of all search traffic, and primarily uses the mobile version of the site to rank pages. Now is the time to eliminate junk code, simplify site structure, and ensure everything translates well to a smaller screen.
- Improve load speed. Today’s users have no tolerance for load delays of more than a second or two, and search engines will take this into account, so it’s crucial to do everything you can to keep your pages smooth and speedy.
- Assess page structure. Even pages that load quickly can frustrate users with disparate elements or illogical flow.
- Make sure you’re using Alt Text for all images. They should be short, accurate, and ideally, include a keyword.
- Don’t neglect content. No technical trick in the world will score your traffic if your content is substandard. Content should be informative, engaging, and fill a visitor’s need. Combining great content with an optimal page experience is a win-win combination that will please both Google and your visitors.