Today’s market is all about customers, their expectations, and satisfying them. That’s all.
All around the globe, business owners have been racing in order to better their services and meet the expectations of potential customers as well as bettering their online experience, starting from their website.
All search engines make their best efforts to come up with the most relevant results, in order to provide the best user experience. Hence it is quite understandable that they would expect the same from you as well.
Page experience, along with other factors, has become the ultimate driver for search rankings.
Google’s UX algorithm came in effect in mid-June 2021, which means that your website will rank based on new signals that reflect the user experience (UX) your visitors have. Called Core Web Vitals, these new signals were developed to reflect the speed, responsiveness, and visual stability of every site page.
If your site does not meet the new UX criteria and load speeds set by Google, your site may not rank as favorably on search engine results pages (SERPs). When you rank lower on SERPs or appear beyond the first page, you miss out on user traffic and, ultimately, new revenue opportunities. Core Web Vitals also affects whether your site appears in Google Top Stories, which is prime real estate for both desktop and mobile users.
Given that less than 15% of websites are optimized to pass a Core Web Vitals assessment, now is the time to break down what these new requirements really mean and how SEO practitioners can provide support. After all, Google’s own research shows that visitors are 24% less likely to abandon sites that meet the thresholds of Core Web Vitals.
How Google Measures Experience – Core Web Vitals
Google has three Core Web Vitals to measure site speed, interactivity and visual stability. They are:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), which is the total time it takes for the main content to load on a page. Google indicates that an optimal LCP measurement is 2.5 seconds or faster.
- First Input Delay (FID), or the time it takes for a page to become interactive. This should take no longer than 100 milliseconds, according to Google.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) is how much visual page content shifts throughout the loading process. An ideal measurement is less than 0.1 seconds.
Beyond the three Core Web Vitals, Google continues to evaluate mobile-friendliness, Safe Browsing, HTTPS, and non-intrusive interstitials. Together, these seven signals define how the search engine ranks the overall page — and user — experience. Let’s dive deeper into each, their potential challenges and the measures that SEO practitioners can take to improve the user experience.
Google Signals – Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
Google Signals – First Input Delay (FID) / Interactivity
Google Signals – Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) / Visual Stability
With Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), or visual stability, Google is reaffirming the correlation between user experience and SEO. It looks at how elements on a page shift. Think about the times when you go to a website and see ads, images and videos shift around on a page before it’s fully loaded. All of these “shifts” represent instability in the site design, which creates frustration for users. The goal is for all page elements to stabilize in less than one-tenth of a second. To achieve this, we must set width and height attributes for all image and video elements, including ads. All space should be reserved on the back end, so another doesn’t randomly pop in. By preloading fonts, you can also prevent flashing and paragraphs from shifting within the site as the content loads.
Google Signals – Mobile Friendly
A mobile friendly SEO strategy means thinking about the entire mobile experience — not just what people see when they go on Google. So, you need to think about how content loads and renders on your site across all devices, as well. Because so many people typically use their smartphones to search, you can’t afford to not think about it. After all, when you have a poor user experience through mobile, your prospects are unlikely to return. Companies going through a site rebuild can address these issues by making sure the user experience is mobile-first. That means creating the design concept and layout for mobile devices first and then scaling to larger screens. If that’s not in the cards, there are other common mistakes that you can address. For example, one of the biggest mistakes is having mobile display results for a website show on a subdomain.
Google Signals – Secure Website HTTPS
Data security has become a top concern for consumers, especially as they spend more time (and money) online. Consumers have cause for concern because hacks are becoming increasingly common for businesses of all sizes. Cyber threats are also not just evolving in sophistication; they’re also becoming more malicious. To create a secure website for customers, prioritize getting an SSL certificate, especially if you have forms or other data entry fields on your site. In cases when user-entered content is communicated to the server side and there is no SSL certificate, Google will tag your site as non-secure, which means users will see the tag in their URL bar.
SSL certificates provide three layers of protection in the authentication process, proving to users that the site they requested wasn’t hijacked by a malicious party. This HTTPS authentication, combined with Google marketing it as a secure website, helps improve overall user experience.
How To Optimize Your Content According to Google’s Page Experience Algorithm
In order to optimize your website based on the latest Page Experience algorithm update, understand the basics first. Essentially, the algorithm is concerned with two main elements of a page: content and responsiveness. It operates on the principle that users are drawn to fast load speeds and easy-to-read content that contains all the information they need. An effective on-page search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, together with great content, is what you need to get on top of this update.
Here’s how to get started:
First, run usability tests on your web pages. This test will give you an idea of your site functionality and pinpoint the reasons behind your increasing bounce rates. Is it the irrelevant content or the complex language you’re using? When done properly, the test will help you optimize your webpage and deliver the best page experience for your users.
Use of Content Management Systems
A content management system (CMS) helps website owners produce new content or edit already published ones while removing complex coding that’s otherwise involved in writing texts. Make sure you’re utilizing the right CMS to save on time and resources as you’re building your content.
Use of Content Delivery Networks
A content delivery network (CDN) is nothing, but a bunch of servers established to your nearest locations. CDNs work as a messenger for your content. The more CDNs you use, the faster your content will load up.
Suppose the website owners published the content from point A, and a user who’s thousands of miles away from point A searches for that content. With the help of CDN, the content from point A will reach the nearest server from that user. This will considerably reduce the load time and enhance the user’s page experience.
No Intrusive Interstitials
Interstitials are intrusive pop-up ads that appear on a webpage and block the content from view. In order to optimize user experience, minimize the use of interstitials across your pages. Not only do they undermine page experience, but they can also force users to mis-click other links while trying to get rid of the ads.
There are, however, instances where you might want to keep them, usually when they’re used as login or free subscription prompts. But if the interstitial is unnecessarily blocking the content, it will have a negative impact on the users and by extension, Google.
Webpage Optimization Strategies to Increase UX
Page experience is all about providing the best possible information to users in the least amount of time. To ensure this, Google has updated its guidelines and added hundreds of signals a web page must have. Here’s what you should focus on:
1. Core Web Vitals
Core Web Vitals are measuring standards primarily centred on users. They involve three basic aspects of user experience: page speed, responsiveness and visual stability. Satisfying these metrics decreases your bounce rates, meaning you’re keeping your visitors on your page longer, and ultimately, creates a superb page experience for all your readers.
Mobile devices are used 70 percent of the time to access the internet. For brands, making web pages mobile-friendly is not just a plus – it’s a must. Make sure your website is accessible and responsive across all devices: desktops, smartphones and tablets. You can check your site’s mobile-responsiveness by using Google’s mobile-friendly test.
3. Safe Browsing
Although Safe Browsing was recently removed as a page experience ranking signal, your website should still be safe to browse. This means your content should neither be misleading nor ask for any type of confidential information from the users. The intent behind your content should be crystal clear. Failure to meet these guidelines can lead to major consequences. One, you will lose reader trust. And two, Google will display a DECEPTIVE SITE AHEAD warning for users whenever they try to access your site. To make sure users know your site can be trusted, Google’s Safe Browsing protection should be enabled.
Make sure that your webpage loads with HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS). Mixing your webpages with both HTTP and HTTPS tags will not make your website fully encrypted, and the activities of the user may be tagged unauthorized and even lead to on-path attacks. This phenomenon is known as mixed content, which Google strongly advises against. Avoid it at all costs by having HTTPS on all your site resources. You can also check whether your site connection is secure.
How To Take SEO Action?
You may wonder how to prioritize this work at scale, especially with all the other SEO tasks you need to complete in a normal day. There are a few tools you can use to evaluate pages, identify specific pages that are hindering performance, dig into their templates and identify problems that exist within them. By working in tandem with your development team, you can develop a scalable workflow that keeps your Core Web Vitals at peak performance.
Deep crawl Performance Metrics
Conductor customers have access to Deepcrawl, which highlights the key performance indicators that connect directly to Core Web Vitals. When you perform a web crawl, it groups pages based on whether they’ve scored “good,” “average” or “poor” based on the key benchmarks. This helps you to discover and prioritize issues at scale with your development team or webmaster. Some rumors suggest that Core Web Vital metrics largely applying to mobile devices, so it might be wise to look at your mobile device pages first, make improvements and work your way up to your desktop pages.
Google Search Console
SEO experts can register with Google Search Console for alerts to malware, deceptive pages, harmful downloads or abnormal downloads that can occur on their sites. If Google detects these things sitting on your website, it displays a warning screen, which will quickly prevent them from clicking through to your home page. Register for these updates so that you can quickly solve problems as soon as they arise.
Page Speed Insights
PageSpeed Insights is a great tool that lets you test different page templates and track their overall performance. That way, your developers can easily understand what’s causing or hindering page performance more quickly.
Now check out this list for some points that you should always keep in mind.
How to Create a Better Web Page Experience
- Break up your content into smaller paragraphs.
- Use meaningful Heading Tags (accurately describe the content that follows).
- Use bullet points and ordered lists.
- Use more images that illustrate what you’re trying to say.
- Choose images that are inherently lightweight (light shades, less colors, fewer micro details like gravel or leaves).
- Optimize your images.
- Replace images that cannot squeeze down to less than 50 kilobytes (or at least no higher than 100 kb).
- Do not require a minimum word count from your writers.
- Write content that provides useful answers.
- Use graphs.
- Test your pages on different mobile devices.
- If possible, reconsider the use of sliders.
- Consider using fonts that are already on visitor’s computers or simply update your font to sans-serif.
- Run your URLs through the PageSpeed Insights tool and follow directions for improvements.
Acknowledge & Mirror Your Site Visitors
Always seek out the opportunity to mirror your customer and site visitor in the images that you use.
Be diverse in your image choice. If your visitors tend to skew older and middle-aged, use images that reflect those users.
Do not make the mistake of mirroring yourself or those within your cultural bubble. Make your web pages welcoming for every segment of society that needs your information.
People tend to see themselves in the images that you use, and it makes them comfortable to see themselves or people like themselves reflected in the images used in your web page (if it’s appropriate to use images of people!).
How Does User Experience Impact SEO?
Google tends to rank sites that are relevant to user queries.
Google also tends to rank popular webpages that users expect to see because the goal is to satisfy users.
Creating a site that is frictionless and that people enjoy is one of the fundamental ways of building popularity with users. When people share about a site, what they’re really sharing is the experience they had with that site.
And those are the kinds of pages that people tend to feel enthusiastic about enough to tell their friends about, link to, and recommend. Sites that rank well naturally are the kinds of sites that users feel enthusiastic enough to link to and recommend.
Creating a positive user experience is one of the building blocks of creating good search performance.
From attracting links, increasing page views, improving conversion rates and earnings, a site can’t lose by focusing on the user experience.