Google Search will rank websites based on “page experience” starting May 2021 What this means for your Website

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With the changes starting to role out for May 2021 there are some big changes which will affect the “traditional” methods of Keyword focused SEO. At Agility Digital we have always been big advocates for doing things right from the ground up. Google’s new Search Algorithms are now supporting what we have always said: SEO is a by product of exceptional website design and well thought out customer journeys – not paying for “Keywords”.

So what are the changes?

On the 11th of November 2020, Google announced a new ranking algorithm that will start taking “page experience” into consideration. “Page experience” is all about how users perceive the experience of interacting with a webpage. Simply put, if Google thinks people don’t enjoy using a website, it will not rank it as highly in Search results. There are a number of metrics and considerations used to understand how a user perceives the experience.

Some of these considerations include page loading speed, interactivity, and the stability of content as it loads. Google calls these things “Core Web Vitals.” In addition, Google is using some existing signals, including mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS, and intrusive ads. All of these things together make up the “page experience” Google Juice.

If you’ve ever accidentally tapped the wrong thing because content on the page was jumping around, that’s something Google Search would consider a bad experience. It’s important to note, however, that page experience isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to ranking.

The company says it will still rank pages “with the best information overall, even if some aspects of page experience are subpar.” In other words, delivering the information that the user is looking for is still ultimately the goal. But if there are pages with similar content, page experience becomes a differentiating factor.

In addition, the changes for non-AMP web content to become eligible to appear in the Top Stories feature in Search for mobile devices will also roll out in May 2021. Google says that any page that meets the Google News content policies will be eligible, but Search will prioritize showing pages with “great page experience”, regardless of whether or not they’re implemented with AMP or not.

Finally, Google says they’re planning to test a visual indicator that identifies pages that “have met all of the page experience criteria.” If this test is successful, Google will show this visual indicator for search results in May 2021.

What Does That Mean for You?

Well it means you need to make sure you’re your website is running quickly, you are using website platforms that are fast performing and not loaded down with unnecessary data, large images or videos which could slow down load speed.

This means it is important for website owners to review where their websites are hosted? Are you using a private or shared server or are you hosting your website on a local high-speed cloud based hosting like AWS or our own Agility Hosting platform? This is a huge starting point for improving your load speed and therefore Google ranking.

We also recommend a review on your customer journey. Does your site lead your customer through to the right pages and have them engaging with a range of content like videos, accordion drop downs, flip boxes, Call-to-Actions etc. If not, then you are at risk of providing web visitors with a poor “page experience”

It also means that SEO optimisation is now moving into the hands of your Web Development company, if your web site isn’t getting designed and created with SEO in mind then, simply put you are not getting value for money. Because SEO starts at the ground up and is a by product of doing things right.

It’s also no surprise that it’s time to Stop paying for Keywords! Unless you are actively engaged in Google Keyword advertising (an even then you shouldn’t be paying “per word”) keywords don’t cost anything. Yes, it is important to focus on keywords when building your content and meta data, but it should never be a quantifiable or ongoing cost.  

Ultimately Google is now aligning the SEO algorithm to what we have always preached – It doesn’t matter if you have everyone in the world coming to your website, if your customer journey, customer experience and message isn’t clear then you are going to struggle to drive conversion and customers through your site.

At Agility Digital we recommend if you haven’t updated your website or reviewed your customer persona or customer journey strategy in the last 2-5 years, now is the time to do it.  Getting your new and improved website in front of google search console before the changes happen is your pathway to SEO success.

If you’re interested about learning more or want to discuss your current digital presence and how it might perform under the new changes feel free to book a Free consultation with one of our Customer Success Managers and we will be happy to point you in the right direction.