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

SEO Done Right

Want to show up well in major search engines like Google? You will hear a lot of things that make it sound hard. But, really, SEO is all about paying attention to the basics of having a good web presence.

Provide Excellent Content

Create the best quality content that you can, and consistently review and improve on it. Your content should demonstrate your expertise.

  • Say something worth reading
  • Be current
  • Answer the questions your audience is asking
  • Use the words your audience uses (not insider or corporate jargon)

Speak to Your Audience

Focus on what your audience wants and needs. If you offer the content that your audience is searching for, you will come up well in searches.

Make sure your website offers the things your audience needs in a straightforward manner. Don’t hide the good stuff in a lot or paragraphs and words. Straight up, offer the info that people are looking for. Make it about your user, not yourself!

Be Authentic

You may be tempted by offers to quickly get you to the top of search results, to sell you leads, to manage your Adwords campaign and more. Don’t.

Search engines have a very fine tuned radar for anything that does not appear to be authentic to the site. If your content or activity gets flagged you are worse off than when you started. It can takes weeks or months to get back on track. Your reputation may suffer irreversible damage.

Give your visitors high-quality content, a great user experience and a secure, technically superior website. It may take more time, but it will build you the right base.

Optimize Site Speed

As far as search engines are concerned, the fastest websites are the best websites. This is because people expect content to served to them quickly. Nobody waits.

Build Links

Make sure that related content within your site is interlinked. Don’t rely on navigation or your site search to do this for you. If content is related, link it.

Likewise, link to external sites that will help your audience. The better you are at completely serving their interests, the more valuable you become.

When you have great content, it also puts you in a great position to earn links from other sites. Reach out to places that make sense and ask for links. Be sure to be specific about what page and where your content is a good fit. Make it as easy as possible for the webmaster to act on your request.

Stay Fresh

Search engines love new content because people do, too. This means removing content that is out of date or no longer relevant. You can move it to draft if you think you may need it some day. Just don’t keep it live on your site to clutter out the newest, best content.

Also, make sure to keep track of your content and the topics it covers helps to avoid keyword cannibalization. Offering too much similar, competing content can actually harm your SEO.

Do a site search for one of your most important keywords and see what comes up. Do articles overlap, and do you still need to keep everything? How are pages performing? Merge or delete content as warranted.

SEO Tools

I find there is no one tool that helps with all aspects of search engine optimization (SEO). Here I offer some SEO tools that I recommend.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is the foundation of SEO strategy. Different tools will provide you with different information, like the number of searches, related searches, and competitiveness.

Site Speed

Search engines downgrade slow sites. And, people are quick to move off of a site that doesn’t load quickly.

Search engines favor sites that other related sites link to.

Duplicate Content

If Google finds the same content within a site or across more than one site, it can downrank the sites with the duplicates.

Mobile Experience

Search engines assume every site will be accessed on mobile. In fact, today many websites get more traffic from mobile devices than desktop computers. Google’s Mobile-Friendly test rates your site on various aspects that matter for the user’s mobile experience.