Google’s algorithms are an extensive system used to retrieve data from its index and deliver the most relevant results for a query. Over the years, Google has made thousands of updates to its algorithms, most small, but also some notable changes once or so per year.
The latest major Google algorithm - the “page experience” update - was announced in November of 2020, and will begin a gradual roll-out beginning in June 2021. As part of this update, “page experience” signals will be included in Google’s search ranking. According to Google, these signals “measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its pure information value.”
Included in the page experience “signals” are Core Web Vitals, metrics measuring real-world user experience for:
- Loading performance
- Visual stability of the page
Also included are Google’s existing search signals:
- Mobile friendliness
- Safe browsing
- Intrusive interstitial guidelines
Highlighting Great Experiences in Google Search
“We believe that providing information about the quality of a web page's experience can be helpful to users in choosing the search result that they want to visit. On results, the snippet or image preview helps provide topical context for users to know what information a page can provide. Visual indicators on the results are another way to do the same, and we are working on one that identifies pages that have met all of the page experience criteria.”
It’s really all about your audience
The goal of this update - and really any of Google’s algorithm updates - is to ensure that websites are providing the most relevant, useful information possible to users, and that the information is well-organized and easy-to-use. At Werkbot, not only do we strive to make our sites easy-to-use, we pay close attention to the ranking factors Google has said are taken into account when determining the quality of a website. The ranking factors we believe will be most impacted by this update include:
- User Experience
- High-Quality Content
- Page Speed
- Secure Website (HTTPS)
- Voice Search
This has always been a hallmark of sites we design. If you want to attract the right business, or customers, you must be able to get from A to Z with as few interruptions and as little friction as possible.
The more relevant and useful the content is on your website, the more likely users are to engage with it. Updating your website on a regular basis with content that helps people make better decisions will improve your ranking in the organic search engine results.
We watched traffic go from <5% in the 00’s to 60+% in 2021. It’s no longer a “bonus” to have a mobile-friendly website - it’s a necessity. If users are not able to browse and interact with content on your website as easily on a mobile device as they can on desktop, they’ll head to another site. Sites that are not mobile friendly are not given the same importance in the search results, and do not have the same visibility to searchers.
Page speed is another signal we focus on when we design and develop websites. Slow page speeds not only frustrate users, they make it more difficult for search engines to “crawl” and index the pages.
Accessibility has become more and more important in recent years and we ensure each site we design meets WCAG AA Compliance. Making a website accessible means designing and developing it, as well as organizing the content, so that users with hearing and visual impairments who are using screen readers to “view” content, are able to access everything just as easily as a user without any hearing or visual disabilities.
Secure Website (HTTPS)
HTTPS stands for “Hypertext Transfer Protocol Security” and helps create an encrypted connection between devices communicating with each other. Google prefers the more secure HTTPS over HTTP, and favors sites using HTTPS by increasing their ranking in the search results. Sites that just have HTTP are shown as “not secure” so users understand they are less protected if submitting sensitive information.
It's estimated that that 128.0 million people in the US will use a voice assistant at least monthly in 2020. That's up over 11% from ther previous year. It is one of the fastest-growing forms of search. Whether it is in the form of a command or posed as a question, internet searches using voice-enabled technology are becoming more frequent. At Werkbot, optimizing for voice search is an important part of web design.
So what does it all mean?
While it is a change, this page experience update to Google’s algorithm isn’t really a new concept. Websites that strive to provide users with the best, most secure experience possible, including the most relevant content, organized and easy-to-find, will be rewarded with better rankings in the search engine results.