User Experience as a ranking signal
Making your website better for users is always a good idea, people navigating through your website on slow connections specially, need the website to be quick and easy to process by the browser. Google has confirmed now that page experience will be included as a ranking signal at some point during 2021.
Google’s advocacy for a great page experience is not a secret, as they mention in this post, they have been researching and conducting studies to set the key elements for a good page experience. These key metrics called Core Web Vitals will be used together with their existing signals for page experience (mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, intrusive interstitials) to deliver a better picture of how good the page experience is for users on a web page.
Google has also confirmed that they will give at least six months notice before rolling this out. However, making sure page experience is as good as it can be for your webs pages is something you should be working already. Fortunately, there are tools available to help web developers to work on-page experience. These tools below can definitely help you to analyse your website and define what changes towards improving UX are needed, you will obviously still need to prioritise changes and set what is achievable with your current CMS or framework, but gain the tools can be very helpful, let’s check which ones are available and what are they useful for.
Evaluating Page Experience and Tools available
As mentioned above we have a set of tools that Google recommends to measure Core Web Vitals so you can then create a plan to improve performance:
- Obviously, you can start with the new Search Console’s Core Web Vitals report to get some insights into how your site performs in terms of page experience.
- Google’s PageSpeed Insights, which incorporates now the new metrics, you can use this test to quickly check a singular page, or even use Screaming Frog to check recommendations for all your website’s pages through its PageSpeed Insights API integration.
- The latest Chrome User Experience Report API, which now lets you access up to 28 days of historical data for your URLs, it’s going to be very helpful to analyse the Real-World Field Data regarding page experience, gathered by Google for your website. You can use this jsfiddle.net example provided in the documentation to try it (remember to insert your API key).
- The new Experience section in Chrome DevTools Performance panel, can provide interesting insights about Layout Shift events and quantify unwanted visual instability.
- Lighthouse in DevTools (now at version 6.0), which introduces three new metrics to the report towards improving user experience. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), which are Core Web Vitals Metrics and also Total Blocking Time (TBT), which correlates well with another Core Web Vitals metric such First Input Delay (FID).
- There is also a Chrome Extension available to quickly access metrics from your browser.
Action Plan and Recommended Workflow
Using the tools to analyse pages and spot problems is great, but you need an action plan. If you need some inspiration towards crafting your master-plan to use these tools on improving user-experience, Google suggests within its documentation a workflow to start with.
Take Action Now
Now is time for you to start improving your website, Google has now provided clear guidelines about what should be expected in terms of page experience, and a relative deadline for the new ranking factor to be rolled out.
If you feel that you need some extra recommendations about how to improve page experience for a particular website, our tech team is available to deliver you the best advice to boost your performance and increase conversion.
Article by Joaquin Morales,
Search Director at New Horizon