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What Google’s Page Experience Signal Update Means for User Experience in 2021

Google announced a 2021 rollout date for including page experience signals in Google Search rankings. Is your website ready?

Earlier this year, Google let us know that page experience signal rankings were coming, and now we know when. On November 10th, Google announced the update that will include page experience signals in Google Search rankings will arrive in May of 2021.

This update is a continuation of Google’s efforts to improve their own users’ experience by measuring different factors that contribute to the user experience (UX) of the ranking web pages.

When considering page experience, Google will look at Core Web Vitals, mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS-security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines. Though still in the testing phase, Google also plans to introduce visual indicators. These indicators will show when a page meets all UX requirements. That means that not only will these factors affect ranking, but also that users will be able to choose to click or not to click on a search result based on Google’s UX indicators.

Google’s Page Experience Signals

These are the signals Google will use to determine your page experience score. As you’re working to update your health system’s website, focus on these signals and the factors that can affect them.

Core Web Vitals

Google’s Core Web Vitals measure the overall perceived UX of your web page, focusing on three main factors:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
  • First Input Delay (FID)
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

Largest Contentful Paint

LCP measures your page’s loading speed by looking at how long it takes to render the largest visible image or text block. To be in good standing, your LPC should occur within 2.5 seconds of a user landing on the page. Curious how your site would rank? Visit Google’s PageSpeed Insights and see.

First Input Delay

FID measures your page’s responsiveness and interactivity by the milliseconds, with a “good” UX maxing at 100 ms. That means the time it takes between when a user first interacts with your page to when the browser can process the event handlers of the interaction should be less than 100 milliseconds.

Cumulative Layout Shift

The visual stability of your site is measured by your CLS score, which represents unexpected layout shifts on a page. Unexpected shifts in page content can be frustrating and sometimes harmful to your goals if calls-to-action or forms shift as users click. Your CLS score should be less than .1 to continue providing a good UX.

Mobile-friendliness

It may seem like a no-brainer in 2020, but mobile-friendliness continues to be an essential UX and ranking factor. You can easily test your web page’s mobile-friendliness with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

Safe-browsing

The safety of users is one of Google’s main priorities and, if it isn’t already, needs to be one of yours as well. Google uses safe-browsing to ensure sites do not contain “malicious or deceptive” content, which you can test with a Security Issues report.

HTTPS-security

The safety of your site is also an essential factor, both for the security of your site and for ranking. Make sure your site is secure by serving it over HTTPS, not HTTP.

Intrusive Interstitials

Content accessibility is an important facet of your UX, which can be hindered by intrusive interstitials. Examples include:

  • Screen-wide popups that appear when a page loads or as users scroll
  • Offers that must be dismissed before reaching the main content
  • Offers or information that take up the whole page and users must scroll past to get to the main content

Follow Google’s Intrusive Interstitial Guidelines to ensure you meet their UX requirements.

Page Experience Signals & Healthcare

UX is more important than ever across all sites, but especially in the healthcare industry. This year, users have turned to healthcare providers for information regarding COVID-19 symptoms and treatments, pandemic closures, and vaccine distribution. But a poor UX can mean fewer people finding or staying on your site.

As page experience signals gain more power, consider your own site’s UX. If you need help measuring the health of your page experience signals, contact us! Our digital experts are well-versed in optimizing for UX and Google rankings and are excited to help you provide the best possible web experience to your site visitors.

Ally Machala

Digital Marketing Coordinator

What Google’s Page Experience Signal Update Means for User Experience in 2021