Google announced a new algorithm update that will be launching sometime in 2021. I covered it in detail in my story yesterday on Search Engine Land named the Google Page Experience Update. I personally would not go too insane about this update, it is a lot of stuff Google has algorithms for already all packed up into one new name – “page experience.”
It is important to note that this algorithm update is being pre-announced and it won’t be going live until sometime in 2021. Google said it will give us six-months notice before hand. So we have at least six-months and one day at this point in time to prepare for it. But probably a lot longer to be honest.
This Page Experience Update looks at elements; many of which Google already looks like. This has things like page speed, mobile-friendly, safe browsing, HTTPS, intrusive interstitials, and now also layout shifts. The page speed and cumulative layout shift is now coming from the “Core Web Vitals” which we have been covering a lot this week.
Here is a nifty chart that Google came out with to explain what is part of this Google Page Experience update:
Again, all of this we had already. Page speed is now using Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) and First Input Delay (FID). The LCP measures loading performance. To provide a good user experience, LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading. The FID measures interactivity. To provide a good user experience, pages should have a FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
The new thing is Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), that measures visual stability. To provide a good user experience, pages should maintain a CLS of less than 0.1. Google said Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) is an important, user-centric metric for measuring visual stability because it helps quantify how often users experience unexpected layout shifts—a low CLS helps ensure that the page is delightful.
So you don’t want pages that have elements jump around the page in this annoying way:
Let me bullet point the rest of this so you have these nuggets in a quick and efficient way to consume it:
- Google has a new algorithm update named Page Experience Update
- Not much is exactly new, outside of the core web vitals
- Core web vital metrics aren’t super new outside of Cumulative Layout Shift
- This is not live now, won’t be until sometime in 2021
- Google will tell us a date sometime in the future of when this will go live
- We will have six-months notice when given this date, so you have time to prepare
- This will somewhat remove the need for AMP
- In mobile, top stories will be available for non-AMP pages when this goes live in 2021
- Page experience scores will play a huge role in the Top Stories selection, instead of AMP
- Most AMP pages score well on page experience out of the box
- Page experience, in my opinion, won’t be a huge metric, similar to HTTPS and page speed that are small factors
- Google said great content is still more important and pages that have great content can still rank well with poor page experience
- We don’t know how big of an update this will be, Google doesn’t know yet, they told me
I have two larger articles on Search Engine Land (Page Experience Update and AMP requirement) on this announcement, but that is pretty much what you need to know in a nutshell. As more details come out, we will send them to you.
You can also check out this developer doc on Understanding page experience in Google Search results. This goes through (a) Understand how page experience will affect ranking,(b) Page experience signals and (c) Optimizing your page experience.
In short, I think overall this is a good thing – sites should get better with this update. But I don’t think we need to panic about it.
Google also had a roundtable with some folks in the industry. Here are tweets about that roundtable from Glenn Gabe and Aleyda Solis
First, the update will be page-level like some other algos (https, mobile-friendly, etc.) But if there are many pages that have the same issues, they can all be impacted. Hard to say yet how much impact that would be. Could be lightweight, maybe stronger. But again, page-level.
There will not be a *minimum* core vitals score to be eligible for Top Stories. They want all pages to be eligible for Top Stories. But the Page Experience update will be factored in rankings-wise.
The Page Experience update will combine the new core web vitals with previous factors like mobile-friendly, https, mobile-popup algo, etc. I asked if those would be changing strength-wise. They didn’t have anything to share about that. My guess is no, but anything is possible.
I brought up the page I shared yesterday with a whopping CLS score of 1.98… and explained that even if the content was great, I couldn’t even find it. 🙂 They understood that it seems that might be something they take into account. Hard to say at this point, but worth noting.
If a new core web vital is added in the future, it should not shock anyone. It won’t be out of the blue. The metric will be written about, talked about, documented, etc.
After Google’s earlier announcement about “a new page experience holistic signal as a ranking factor”
If a page has an AMP alternate that is shown to the user, then Google will take the AMP page into consideration to assess the page experience signal, since it’s the one that the users see.
* The ranking signal is going to be at a page level, not side wide.
* Asked if Core Web Vitals metrics focused on mobile would be taken for mobile search rankings and desktop for desktop rankings, but this wasn’t clear yet. Hope confirmation will come in the future
* The signals taken into consideration for “page experience” will evolve and be updated yearly.
* And a confirmation: The new Page Experience as ranking signal won’t be happening until next year, so there’s enough time to improve things if there’s the need 🙂