What is the name of the Google Update? The Page Experience Update
What’s new? An increased focus on Core Web Vitals.
What are Core Web Vitals? Loading, Interactivity and Visual Stability
When are these changes due? There is no set date, but they’re planned for at least 6 months’ time.
Where can I read more? You can find more information about page experience here.
A closer look at Google’s Page Experience algorithm update
Anybody who has worked in SEO knows that Google isn’t afraid of releasing sweeping updates to its organic search algorithm — and from what we know so far, the upcoming Page Experience update is no exception.
The proposed algorithm will significantly change the way results are presented in SERPs. The ranking ability of any page will now be affected by a number of new factors that Google has collectively termed “page experience”. This represents how the user interacts with the site, and how convenient it is for them to find the information they’re looking for.
In short, the more accessible, understandable, and user-friendly the website, the higher it will be displayed in the SERP.
Numerous parameters are in place to determine the overall Page Experience score: the algorithm will take into account download speed, interactivity, stability, and much more. Google calls these key parameters Core Web Vitals.
Current metrics will also be taken into account, including mobile-friendliness, browsing security, HTTPS support, and the absence of intrusive advertising. At the same time, AMP support will no longer be required to achieve top positions for mobile searches.
Google plans to implement these changes after 2020. A reminder will be sent six months in advance of the new algorithm’s launch (at some point in 2021) so that site owners have time to prepare.
“We’re providing the tools and documentation now to get you started, but there is no immediate need to take action now. We will give a six-month notice before implementing these changes.
Once the changes mentioned in our roadmap are rolled out, page experience will join the hundreds of signals that Google considers when generating Search results.”
Google launches Web Vitals: Important health performance for your site
What are Core Web Vitals?
Loading / Interactivity / Visual Stability
Core Web Vitals
In Google’s announcement of the Page Experience update, it’s mentioned that optimizing sites for good behavioural indicators is a strategically important area for the development of the web industry. Therefore, Google has decided to combine all the tools that measure site performance into a separate core service.
All Google web dev tools, including:
- Chrome DevTools
- PageSpeed Insights
- Search Console’s Speed Report
have been updated and can now measure Core Web Vitals.
How are Core Web Vitals measured?
Measuring site user satisfaction is a challenging task. Google has determined that download speed, interactivity, and visual stability are critical factors in determining the quality of a site.
Google identifies three critical indicators which form the basis of Core Web Vitals metrics:
More information on these metrics
Largest Contentful Paint measures the rendering time of the most significant visible part of the content on the first screen of your site. It can be an image, a caption, or raw text.
First Input Delay measures the responsiveness of your site. The lower this indicator, the more confident users are that they’re able to interact with your site.
In the new update, this parameter will be replaced with Total Blocking Time, which takes into account the time between rendering the first significant visible content (First Contentful Paint) and the time taken for the site to reliably and rapidly respond to user input (Time to Interactive). TBT measures the time during which the main thread is blocked from responding to user input.
Cumulative Layout Shift measures the degree of stability of the content on your site. If core page content is pushed back by ad units or other content when loading a site, this parameter will evaluate how critical the prioritized content is for visitors. A score between 0 and 1 is assigned, with a lower score representing a better result.
All these indicators can already be tested in the new version of Lighthouse.
More useful information from Google
Google has claimed that live data — that is, data sent to their database when you visit each site — is the most valuable. This entire database is stored in one Chrome User Experience Report. Guidelines for working with the file are described here.
Web Vitals Chrome extension
For ease of determining page loading speed, a new Web Vitals extension has been released for Chrome to help determine whether the page you’re on is fast enough.
When you visit any site, the extension automatically measures it for speed, interactivity and stability and displays a green or red colour rating. When you click on the coloured square, a window with specific measurements appears:
How to optimize for Web Vitals
If you would like to learn more about how to optimize for Web Vitals, you can visit web.dev/LIVE between June 30 — July 2, 2020.
If you would like to find out more about working with the upcoming Page Experience update, or anything else SEO-related, please contact us and we’ll do our best to help.
Max Brockbank is Head of SEO at The Media Image. He previously served as Global Director SEO at Hilton Worldwide and Senior Client Success Manager at SearchMetrics. As a journalist, Max worked as a reporter and editor with regional and national newspapers including the FT and the Sun, and on global publications such as TIME Magazine.