What is Google’s Page Experience Report?
You may have noticed Google’s new Page experience report which was added to search console in April 2021.
This report is designed to alert site owners to user experience (UX) issues that may affect their site’s usability and – in turn – lead to a drop in rankings when Google’s ‘Page experience’ search algorithm begins in June 2021, with full rollout expected by the end of August as explained by Google below:
“We’ll begin using page experience as part of our ranking systems beginning in mid-June 2021. However, page experience won’t play its full role as part of those systems until the end of August. You can think of it as if you’re adding a flavoring to a food you’re preparing. Rather than add the flavor all at once into the mix, we’ll be slowly adding it all over this time period.”
The new Google Page Experience report offers useful metrics to measure your site by, such as the % of URLs with good page experience and search impressions, as well as pass/fail details on each of the signals. By clicking on the failed metric you can see individual URLS that are causing these issues.
Below we look at why your site may have a poor score and how these can be fixed:
How is the Page Experience Score Calculated?
1. Core Web Vitals
The page provides a good user experience, particularly concerning site speed and making sure the visuals are stable (elements don’t ‘jump around’ the page on load making it difficult to click on them):
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): Measures loading performance. According to Google, sites should strive to have LCP occur within the first 2.5 seconds of the page starting to load.
First Input Delay (FID): Measures interactivity. According to Google, sites should strive to have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): Measures visual stability. According to Google, sites should strive to have a CLS score of less than 0.1.
There are some useful tools around that can help you measure and monitor Core Web Vitals, but a good quick overview is the Page Speed Insights test which breaks down specific issues with site speed and also lists elements causing cumulative layout shift.
To improve cumulative layout shift you want to see which code elements are listed in the ‘Avoid large layout shift’ section of the Page Speed Insights report and then identify why these are causing a shift. Common reasons include images not having fixed dimensions; pop up banners and other embeds loading without dimensions and fonts loading improperly.
Is the site Mobile-friendly?
The page being mobile-friendly (meaning it is well-designed and responsive on both mobile and tablet devices) is also a factor in core web vitals. Use the Mobile-Friendly Test to see if you have any issues.
If you have several mobile-friendly issues you may need a site redesign to make it responsive on different devices in the worst case scenario, although it may be a case of simply making a few tweaks such as increasing font size on mobile on your existing site.
Does the site have safe browsing?
The page doesn’t contain malware or deceptive content.
Removing malware can be very tricky and it’s best to consider using a cyber-security specialist for this. Try running you site through Sucuri’s free website malware scanner for a good idea of any issues.
The page is served over HTTPS. You can see if your site’s connection is secure by checking the padlock icon in the browser by your site’s URL. In order to serve your site over HTTPS you will need a valid SSL certificate and redirect your site from HTTP.
You can read more about what an SSL is here, but the best way to configure this is usually through your hosting provider.
No intrusive interstitials
Interstitials are elements like pop up ads, newsletter sign ups and other content which makes the content inaccessible – even for a few seconds.
This doesn’t include cookie pop ups which are considered essential and small unobtrusive pop ups you may use on the site to promote offers etc. Google have a useful guide with specific examples of what is permitted and what isn’t here. It’s definitely worth considering whether the pop up on your site is ‘essential’ or is actually hindering your site’s UX.
Should you Worry about your Site’s Page Experience Score?
It can be easy to panic when you get an alert about your site’s poor experience score – we’ve seen many cases of ‘Your site has 0% URLs with a good page experience’, which can cause alarm bells ringing.
However as Google outlines below these factors are not completely new, they are already considerations in their search algorithm (which has over 200 factors!) and so your site’s rankings shouldn’t change too drastically if you aren’t fully compliant.
“While this update is designed to highlight pages that offer great user experiences, page experience remains one of many factors our systems take into account. Given this, sites generally should not expect drastic changes. In addition, because we’re doing this as a gradual rollout, we will be able to monitor for any unexpected or unintended issues.”
It’s also important to note you are only competing against your competitor’s sites – if they are also poor you should retain your ranking advantage over – try running their sites through Page Speed Insights for an overview.
However, the importance of these metrics aren’t going away – Google is basically looking to reward fast sites with a positive UX experience. Therefore making a few tweaks to your site could give it a boost in the rankings and improve usability and conversion rate – what’s not to like?
How Can I Improve my Site’s Page Experience Score?
Depending on the number of issues on your site, improving your page experience’s score could be as simple as making a few tweaks to your website code right through a complete site redesign.
If you aren’t sure where to start, contact Content Drive today – we are SEO specialists that can help improve your site’s Google page experience score and, ulitmately, improve your rankings.