What Google’s Page Experience Rank Means for Your Website

Google has announced a new ranking factor for 2021 – page experience. The reflects an ever greater emphasis on user experience as a website quality factor.

Google has developed a new set of metrics called the Web Vitals to measure Page Experience. There are three core metrics: Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay and Cumulative Layout Shift. These represent performance, responsiveness and visual stability — the three pillars of Google’s page experience update.

Google Web Vitals Defined

Google now identifies three core web vitals. They define three pillars of page experience.

  • Loading performance (how fast does stuff appear on screen?)
  • Responsiveness (how fast does the page react to user input?)
  • Visual stability (does stuff move around on screen while loading?)

To measure page experience, Google chose three corresponding metrics:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): A measure of how long it takes for the largest piece of content to appear on the screen.
  • First Input Delay (FID): How long it takes for the site to react to the first interaction by a user.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS):Measures the visual stability of your site. In other words, does stuff move around on screen while it is loading.

The core web vitals are factored with other metrics to determine your Google page rank.

LCP: Largest Contentful Paint

Largest Contentful Paint measures the point at which the largest content element appears on the screen. It doesn’t measure the time it takes for your page to fully load, but it simply looks at when the most important part loads.

By getting your largest or most significant content element to load quicker, your site can appear much faster.

According to Google, you should aim for the LCP to happen within the first 2.5 seconds of the page loading. Everything over 4 seconds is considered poor.

FID: First Input Delay

The First Input Delay measures the time it takes for the browser to respond to the first interaction by the user. The faster the browser reacts, the better.

Google ranks highly when FID is less than 100ms. Anything between 100ms and 300ms needs improvement.

JavaScript is often the culprit of bad grades. If you work on improving your JavaScript code and the handling of it, you will improve your page experience scores.

CLS: Cumulative Layout Shift

Cumulative Layout Shift determines how often elements jump around while loading and by how much. These layout shifts happen a lot with ads.

The Cumulative Layout Shift compares frames to determine the movement of elements. It takes all the points at which layout shifts happen and calculates the severity of those movements. Google considers anything below 0.1 good, while anything from 0.1 to 0.25 needs work.

Tools to measure Web Vitals

Cutting Through the Google Analytics Data Clutter

Google continues to add complexity to the Google Analytics tool. It is great to be able to take a deep dive, but Google Analytics data can also be overwhelming. Here’s a guide to getting the insight from analytics that you most often need.

Page Level Analysis

Google analytics data can tell you how popular a page is and if it’s worth the effort to spend time and resources on the page. Go to the All pages report in Google Analytics: Behavior> Site content and search for the page

  • Note the overall position among all pages
  • Note how often the first page or “entrance page” is visited

Click on the page name to see the metrics of that page. Try to understand what the metrics are saying and how it compares to the site’s average.

Trend Analysis

Look at the page over time by expanding the date range of the data. Does the page perform best during certain days, weeks or months of the year?

Session Level Analysis

In the Sessions area, go to landing pages and look at the All Pages report. The number of pages per session, the bounce rate and the number of new users can all be insightful.

Google Search Console Analysis

In addition to Google Analytics data, take a look at Google Search Console to find information about the keywords that your site ranks for. Go to your Google Search Console account and click on Search results. You can look at data for your entire website or filter to look at a specific page.

Listen to the Data

Analytics and search data can help you get the most from your efforts to market online. Pick a few data views that are most meaningful to you and take time to review them periodically.  Also, look for other sources for great data to inform your digital marketing.

Check Web Page Performance with Google Tools

Google Analytics Page Analysis

First, look at the page data. Go to the All Pages report under Behavior>Site content and search for the page you want to assess.

Click on the page to look at the number of page views and other metrics. Note how often it is the entrance page – the first page visited. Look at the device category to see how many people visit from desktop versus mobile devices.

Look Over Time

Play with the time frame  to see how your page performs over time. This can help you see seasonal differences. You can also track the impact of changes made by looking at the data before and after the change date.

Google Search Console Analysis

Look at Google Search Console to find information about the keywords and phrases a page ranks for.  Once logged in, click on Search results. Set a filter that exactly matches the URL of your page.

You will see the queries and position of the page. Take a look at the metrics to understand how the page is being used.