Since its first updates in 2003, known as the Florida updates, Google has constantly been maneuvering its search ranking guidelines to provide users with the best possible result. From focussing on content quality over keyword stuffing to the core web vitals, it’s always been about the user’s complete satisfaction.
One of its most recent updates was the Page Experience update, which rolled out in 2021. Suggestive of the name, page experience refers to all the elements on your site that make them easier to use and navigate. And in today’s ultra-competitive world, having a flawless page experience won’t just increase your chances of conversions but also affect your rankings positively on Google’s SERP (search engine results page).
What is Page Experience?
Google defines page experience as “Page experience is a set of signals that measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its pure information value, both on mobile and desktop devices. It includes Core Web Vitals, which is a set of metrics that measure real-world user experience for loading performance, interactivity, and visual stability of the page. It also includes existing Search signals: mobile-friendliness, HTTPS, and intrusive interstitial guidelines.”
In other words, page experience is the ease of interaction between the users and your website. Google considers a website with a good page experience when the visitors can navigate the site easily and access its interactive features seamlessly.
The definition above sets the metrics Google determines for considering the page experience of a site. The updates mean the huge potential for those who offer high-quality content with stellar page experience, as the popular search engine will considerably favor their site over their competitors.
On the other hand, if your visitors find it rough to navigate around your site and find the information they’re looking for, you may see your rankings fall down the SERP. These updates have helped marketers and content creators to keep interactivity in focus along with informative and relevant content to improve the overall experience of their target audience who visit the site.
Google considers various metrics to measure the page experience of a website, and we’ll be discussing them below.
How Does Page Experience Affect Rankings?
The page experience includes technical elements of your web pages. These updates cover a lot more than content. With the use of page experience, Google will distinguish between two websites that offer quality content but differ in their user-friendliness. Needless to say, the more user-friendly site will be higher in SERP rankings than the other.
It should be remembered that user-friendliness shouldn’t substitute for providing quality content. Content is still king, but page experience comes in at a close second. Along with backlinks, content and page experience make the holy trinity of SEO.
Here are the factors that Google considers for page experience:
Core Web Vitals
Core web vitals are a set of quality signals that informs Google about the user experience of a site. It basically entails how your individual web pages perform when user accesses.
For example, a page with a longer load time will have a higher bounce, which means a user won’t stay on your website for long if they have a poor experience. As such, Google rewards websites with a great user experience and optimally performs.
The metrics that Google uses to determine core web vitals include your site load speed, interactivity, and visual stability as perceived by your audience. The overall page quality and load speed are the primary factors contributing to the core web vitals.
Core web vitals are amongst the main elements that inform Google about the page experience of a site.
There are over 3 billion smartphone users globally today, which is only expected to rise in the coming years. With so many smartphone users today, it’s normal that Google strongly emphasizes your website’s mobile-friendliness.
Mobile-friendliness or responsiveness means how your website is performing on mobile devices. A mobile responsive site means that all the web pages can be accessed on any mobile device and performs optimally with all visual elements intact across screen sizes and browsers.
The reason for giving importance to mobile responsiveness is that with so many smartphone users, mobile searches had overtaken desktop searches around half a decade back, and the trend isn’t going backward.
HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, which is an extension of Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). HTTPS is a secure way of transmitting data between a web server and a browser compared to its counterpart, which doesn’t secure the transfer.
HTTPS uses the SSL protocol for authentication and encryption, which secures the data against hacking. Google considers the data security of its users as of paramount importance and thus rewards websites with HTTPS with better rankings. More than 70% of websites that rank on Google’s first page have HTTPS. You can also see this on any SERP page.
Interstitials and Dialogues
Interstitials are pop-ups that appear on your webpage. They can be either for promotional purposes, a legal requirement, a dialogue box, cookie information, dialogues, banners, etc.
Interstitials overlay the whole web page and obstruct the user’s view of the page’s contents. This makes the content on your site hard to read and may end up frustrating your site visitors, leading to a bad experience.
Now, make no mistake. A site sometimes requires these dialogues and interstitials to convey useful information. But they shouldn’t be obstructive or make it hard for users and search engines to read or understand your content. In such cases, it may be detrimental to their overall experience, making them leave your site for a competitor, ultimately degrading your rankings.
Tips for a User-Friendly Website
Now that you know the factors that influence page experience on your site, you might be wondering what you can do to improve your website’s page experience and its ranking on Google SERP.
It’s worth remembering here that under no circumstance should you neglect the page experience updates by Google. These updates have created an equal footing for small businesses that have a chance to beat their major competitors in rankings with a few simple tweaks to their site. It also gives shows that a business cares about its target audience, adding to the credibility and trustworthiness of its brand.
Follow the tips below for optimizing your site for a superb user experience:
Optimize Visual Elements
While you do need to make your website appealing and aesthetic for your users, you need to ensure that you don’t go overboard with your designs.
All content and visual elements like graphics, images, etc., should be clearly visible and professionally presented as per your branding outline. Avoid fonts that may be difficult to read, and use styles that have good readability and complements your site aesthetics. Also, remember to use contrasting colors on fonts so that they don’t get mixed up with the background.
Navigation is fundamental when we’re talking about a user-friendly website. Navigation refers to the ease of movement of your users from one web page to the next or the ability to extract the relevant information they’re looking for.
Ensure that your pages are well-linked and highlight the most important features your target audience will use. For example, an e-commerce site should clearly define the product categories along with a smooth purchasing process so that the user doesn’t get interrupted while accessing your site’s contents.
With a poor user experience, you’re more likely to drive traffic away from your site, adversely impacting your rankings.
Improve Page Load Speed
As mentioned earlier, page load speed plays an important part in determining the user-friendliness of your website. Research has suggested that if a web page takes more than 3-4 seconds to load, the chances are that the user will leave your site for your competitor, increasing the bounce rate.
Optimize the visual elements in your site and do away with heavy graphics and imagery that may hamper load speed. A website with fast loading time has more user retention.
As generic as it may sound, your users mustn’t find it complex to use or understand the information provided by your website. Whether it’s the design, content structuring, unnecessary pop-ups, or whatever, you need to simplify your web pages to ensure a great experience for the user.
Focus on Page Experience for Higher Rankings and User Satisfaction
These were the elements of page experience considered by Google and how you can optimize to meet those guidelines.
A user-friendly website that can provide visitors with the information they need seamlessly with quality content and a fast load speed.
All-in-all, you need to step inside your customer’s shoes to find out what they expect and what they need and provide them with relevant information in the best way possible. It’s thus a win-win situation for marketers, small businesses, and content creators to gain an upper hand in this ultra-competitive world with minimal effort.
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