Google Page Experience – Desktop Algorithm Update

Google Page Experience - Desktop Algorithm Update

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In this video, we take a look at page experience, and in this case, how it pertains to Google’s desktop algorithm and what you need to do in order to prepare. We’re going to be taking a look at Google page experience update, this time it’s the desktop edition. A few big ideas is Google will be using page experience as part of the desktop ranking system as well, beginning in February 2022. According to Google, it should be finished by the end of March 2022. Now, this is bringing all of those page experience signals that we saw roll out in August 2021 on mobile into the desktop algorithm.

Video Transcript: 

What is Included in the Google Page Experience Update?

What is this going to include? Now, page experience includes all aspects of how a user interacts with your website and how well the website meets their expectations. This is more than just core web vitals. Now, core web vitals is a very important part of this, which is all about user experience. We’ve got things like Largest Contentful Paint, first input delay, and cumulative layout shift, but it also has a few other things.

Now, mobile-friendly doesn’t apply here because we’re talking about desktop, but it is part of page experience signals. A few other ones are HTTPS, so security, and the last one is no intrusive interstitials. This is making sure that the content on the page is easily accessible.

Following these best practices, or focusing on these areas, we can make sure that our website has a better experience for end users, and in return, hopefully, that will allow us to increase the visibility of our websites in search. Let’s talk a little bit more about each of these areas.

Understanding Web Vitals

Core web vitals, this is an initiative from Google to unify the guidance around quality signals and what they believe is essential for delivering a good user experience. Core web vitals, Google says, should be measured by all site owners. They’re going to start surfacing across Google Tools, and you may have seen them already and your Search Console if you’ve been in there and been active.

One thing they also note when they talk about core web vitals is that this will probably change over time and things will evolve. We’ve already seen some evolution of core web vitals. In the beginning, Google had some very strict rules, but then they realized, wow, this is a little bit harder for these website owners to actually achieve these rules, so they’ve shifted them a little bit.

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – Loading

Let’s talk a little bit about each of these. The first one is Largest Contentful Paint, and this is all about loading. Now they actually have parameters for what a good site, needs improved, and a poor site is. In order to be a good site, you need to load within 2.5 seconds. If you’re in the 2.5 to four seconds, you’re considered a needs improved, and anything over for your poor quality there for loading.

First Input Delay (FID) – Interactivity

We also have interactivity. This is how soon can somebody start to do something on your page, can they click on a button, submit a form, things like that. You have to be able to do this a lot quicker, as you can see.

Cummulative Layout Shift (CLS) – Visual Stability

The cumulative layout shift, this is how visually stable your site is. Does your site move around as it’s loading or is it visually stable?

You want to make sure that you’re meeting these requirements here and that you’re in, as best of your capabilities, in the good section in order to get good core web vital scores as part of your page experience score.

Understanding HTTPS

You also have HTTPS and this is all about security. Now, if you don’t know if your site is using this or not, you should have an HTTPS in front of your domain instead of HTTP. You can open up a page in Chrome and you can look for these little symbols here. If it’s got a lock, it means your site’s secure. If it’s got a circle with an eye in it, it means that it’s not fully secure. If it’s got this little red it’s warning sign, it means your site is not secure at all or you’ve probably got some malicious information here.

You can read a lot more about this if you just check out the Google page on HTTPS. We’ll make sure that those links are available for you in the video, as well as the blog that accompanies this video. But it’s really important that your site is secure. As more and more people are going online, data security is an extremely important thing. Google sees security as a signal for ranking because they don’t want to rank websites that are not secure.

No Intrusive Interstitials

No intrusive interstitials. Now, that’s a big word, but really what it means is watch what you do with popups, watch what you do with displaying content over an expected page. Have you ever gone to a website and you had this experience, you try to get to the website and all of these banners come at you and you really can’t see the website content until you start clicking off of these things. That’s considered intrusive and Google doesn’t like that. If you’re doing that over and over again, you’re creating a poor user experience, and because of that poor user experience, they’re going to start docking you in the search results.

It’s important if you’re using popups, your using slide ends, you’re using exit intent banners, all of those are good things. Think about how they fit into design and think about the experience the user’s having. Are you preventing the user from actually engaging with your website by using one of these types of attention grabbers or calls to action?

Don’t shy away from them altogether, I wouldn’t say I think these are really, really beneficial, but make sure that you’re doing it in a way that helps the user find the content they need or maybe moves them a little bit more through your funnel without obstructing the content. That’s really what Google’s getting at here.

How to Prepare for the Update

How do we prepare for of this? Well, it starts by checking out our page scores within Search Console. Let’s go ahead over to Search Console really quick and take a look at it. When you’re inside Google Search Console, over here on the left hand side, you’ll see a thing that says Experience. We’ve got three different sections. We don’t have to worry about mobile usability here because we’re talking about desktop for this video.

We can go ahead and click on Page Experience. Now, some of you may experience this where you’ve got zero data when it comes to page experience, and that’s just because Google doesn’t see your site having enough traffic. I don’t really know what that threshold is, they don’t always tell us what that threshold is, but if I go over here to our SMA or agency site, we have quite a bit more traffic than our training site. You can see here that we’ve got a number of pages and 83.3% are good, which is awesome, which is a really good thing to see, but it also says, “Hey, we’ve got some pages that can use some improvement.” We can see here, we’re doing good on mobile, we’re doing good HTTPS, but we’ve got some URLs that are failing core web vitals and we need to take a look at them.

What’s nice about this report is you can go ahead and scroll down here, this is all the mobile data, because Google’s mobile first, and we can go here desktop and they’re not giving us as much, but as we can see here, we are still seeing the same issues with core web vitals. Search Console is really great tool to look at your core web vital scores.

Let’s go back to our training site here, as you can see, we’ve got a little bit of desktop data here underneath a page experience review. Let’s go ahead and click on these URLs. Now, you can see that we’ve got none that are poor anymore, but we’ve got 14 that have issues. Notice what the issues are, we’ve got a content layout shift and then we got an LCP issue, loading issue.

If you click on one of these, what it’s going to do is it’s going to give you an example URL. It’s not going to give you all your URLs. Once you click on this, it will then give you the URLs here in a list. It’ll tell you what your average CLS is. Remember, from our deck, we want this to be 0.1 at the most.

They’re not going to give you a ton of information, like what’s causing those issues here, but they are going to surface those issues. If you want to see what’s causing the issue, you actually have to run it in Page Speed Insights. All you have to do is click that button and it’s going to start running Page Speed Insights. Just click right here. It’ll open up in a new window and it’ll start running this analysis. Now, this may take a few minutes depending on the size of your website page, but after it runs, you should have some good information to work with.

Now, as you can see, it didn’t take super long, this is a pretty small page. In this case, I actually want to look at desktop, because again, we’re trying to optimize right now for desktop page experience. I can see this report. They’re telling me that my First Contentful Paint is 1.4, speed index, we’ve got some things that we can do to speed this up.

What I really like about this Page Speed Insights is I zoom in, it can actually show me the audits related to the issues. Let’s say I want to focus right now on cumulative layout shift. We’ve got these two different elements that are shifting. We need to go and look at these elements and see how we can make them a little bit more stable, which is really cool. They allow us to kind of work inside of our website to figure out what’s causing these issues.

I can also look at Largest Contentful Paint because I want to speed it up. Eliminate render blocking resources, this is very common, especially when you’re using WordPress. You’ll notice that there’s WordPress plugins that can help with this. Now, Google’s even bringing this to our attention here.

This is really important for WordPress users, is when using these types of plugins or when you’re inlining your assets, make sure that you’re checking your theme and other plugins that they’re still working. Sometimes by doing this, it can actually break your theme or your style. Your site may be faster, but now your site looks like junk. Do this to the best of your abilities, but just be cautious a little bit when you’re making these different changes.

But I can go through here and see all the different things that are maybe causing issues on my site and I can try to figure out how to solve them. This isn’t something that’s super easy all the time, sometimes it does take some technical acumen to fix these, but Google tries to give you some help.

Again, let’s look at this eliminate render blocking resources. If you’re like, “I don’t really know anything about that,” they’ve always got these Learn More. We can go to web.dev, which is the core web vitals. And they’ll walk you through what does this actually mean, how do you identify them, and how do you solve that problem, which is really cool. They really try to help educate the end user on how to solve these problems, and they can even give you specific guidance based on what you’re building on, so WordPress, Joomla, Droople, or whatever you’re using. This is really cool because it’s going to help you solve those issues and make sure that your site is meeting the page experience for your end users.

Make sure that you are using Google Search Console, make sure that you’re coming into this report, that you’re understanding how your website is performing and what things you need to do to help improve the page experience of your website. Not only is it going to help with ranking, which is obviously a really good thing and something we’re trying to do with SEO, but it’s going to create a better end user experience. At the end of the day, that’s what you want, because people are going to stay on your site longer, they’re going to engage with you more deeply, and hopefully you’re going to get more conversions or more engagement in the long run.

Thanks for checking out this video. I hope you guys learned something today. If you’ve got any questions of what we talked about, please comment below. We’d love to continue that conversation with you. Don’t forget to subscribe and turn on your notifications so you’ll know each and every time we create a new video. Thanks again for watching and we’ll see you next time. Happy marketing.

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