Google has given us an entire year to prepare for the update on user experience (UX) that will be making its debut next month.
You read that right – in May 2020, the global search engine, Google, announced that their upcoming upgrade would start to include user experience, among other metrics, to rank site performance. UX will also affect your company’s placement in Google Search.
While user experience will not be the sole factor in your placement, it will become increasingly more important from here on out. Let’s take a look at the main markers you will want to keep in mind for May 2021, so that your site does not vanish off the face of the web (or trickle down to the 2nd or 3rd page on Google).
The highly favored search engine has been preparing for this update for over a year now so there are quite a few opinions on the topic floating around. However, we prefer to get our information straight from the source. According to Google, the user experience update hopes to improve the way we interact with content, and how to decide which pieces are most important to the consumer.
They note: The page experience signal measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page. Optimizing for these factors makes the web more delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces, and helps sites evolve towards user expectations on mobile. We believe this will contribute to business success on the web as users grow more engaged and can transact with less friction.
In other words, Google is going to gauge how useable your site is, especially across different devices and platforms to make sure that the user-friendliest sites make it to the top during your research. How? By measuring your core web vitals, comparing them to your competition, and ranking accordingly. We will show you what this means and the best practices your company can take to prepare.
DOWN TO THE CORE
Core Web Vitals are new metrics that Google is rolling out to measure things like speed and accessibility on any given page on your site. Adjusting your site to fit these standards will impress Google, as well as your clientele! Creating a more enjoyable user experience is Google’s goal for a reason. In order to quantify UX, there are three core vitals highlighted across several sources: page speed, page interactivity, and page stability. Let’s take an even deeper look into what these vitals mean for the future of your site.
Last but certainly not least, Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), is the core web vital that measures page stability. This is the most frustrating feature for users, for good reason. Page stability means that the elements on any given page do not shift while loading. Every element has a place on each page, and if your site is stable, they will never budge or shift while the rest of your content loads. 0.1 is the goal here, anymore 0.25 or over is going to need adjustments. This is the easy part, you will need to specify the size dimensions of every single image or video on the page for best results. These, among other valuable components, like accessibility across devices and platforms, and rich content, will all be taken into consideration whilst your website is being assessed by the algorithm.
CONTENT STILL MATTERS
Any time “updating the algorithm” is mentioned, we cringe a little. But the bulk of ranking will still stem from authentic and useful content. Google has made it clear that while the UX update will alter how sites are displayed in the search engine, the content on your site itself, still plays the largest role in ranking. If you already consistently update your content, minimal modifications will be needed.
To quote: While all of the components of page experience are important, we will prioritize pages with the best information overall, even if some aspects of page experience are subpar. A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content.
TIPS AND TOOLS FOR TRACKING UX
As your marketing mavens, Power On has plenty of tricks to try for a seamless transition into the core web vitals world. The first steps to improving your UX ranking are internal. Optimize each page on your site for speed, reduce 400 errors, and fix any and all broken pages/links as they appear. These each contribute to a negative user experience and drag your site performance down.
After an internal assessment comes a comparison to your competitors. While you may think your site is fine and dandy, your competition could be blowing you out of the water! It is important to check up on your competition to compare speed, SEO health, and so much more. Tools like page speed insights will allow you to search yourself and/or competitors to see where you stand in several areas. Google has released several tools to test, track, and enrich your user experience in terms of Core Web Vitals.
If you are keeping up with the competition, or beating them, you should still analyze your site design for layout shifts and other usability issues. To identify any issues more easily, try using a site like Crazy Egg on your popular pages. We suggest testing at least three of your top-performing URLs to review your usability, site structure, navigation, and more. You can always experiment with additional tools and plug in’s to monitor rankings and other data over time.
SUMMARIZE THE STREAMLINE
Google updates are not new, they just decided to brace us for impact this time around. The User Experience Update combines site functionality with SEO structuring in hopes of creating the ultimate user experience. Successful sites will be enjoyable, equitable, usable, and useful while providing inventive and original content.