And What It Means for Your eCommerce Business
Ranking high in queries takes time, effort, and a lot of optimization. So, now that you’ve finally reached the top of relevant search results, you’ve heard about the Google algorithm update and wonder if it can take you back from where you started. In November 2020, Google announced that the page experience signals would become part of Google search with the new “page experience update.”
“These signals measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page and contribute to our ongoing work to ensure people get the most helpful and enjoyable experiences from the web.” Google
Google will begin using page experience as part of the ranking systems starting in mid-June 2021, but it will gradually roll out and take effect until the end of August.
Google keeps updating its algorithms to provide users with the most helpful pages they will interact with, and probably that’s why it remains the best search engine in the world people use every time they need to find something. After the new update fully rolls out, websites offering poor user experience may drop in rankings.
Although it may seem straightforward to go ahead and optimize the user experience for the new algorithm update, you may still want to know if your eCommerce website will be affected by the latest update. If you wonder how to optimize for page experience and if you need to take action, here’s everything you need to know.
What is Page Experience in Google Search?
Page experience is a combination of signals that measure how users interact and benefit from a web page beyond its information value. So, if you sell a face mask for dry skin, someone searching for one may be happy to find your mask and may purchase it, but the shopping experience on your site may leave users frustrated.
Only because you provide what users need doesn’t mean your page will rank high in relevant queries because most of the time, shoppers will abandon your site when it fails to provide an enjoyable experience.
Page experience signals on Google include Core Web Vitals – a set of metrics that measure real-world user experience for loading performance, interactivity, and visual stability of the page.
Core Web Vitals apply to all web pages, and all site owners should measure these metrics now available across all Google tools. Each of the metrics represents a distinct facet of the user experience and is measurable across tools. The data about Core Web Vitals from the Chrome User Experience Report is based on actual user visits and interactions with web pages and not on a non-human visitor like Googlebot.
Understanding these metrics will allow you to see how your real customers use and interact with your pages. Core Web Vitals now focuses on three aspects of the user experience—loading, interactivity, and visual stability—and measures them using the following metrics:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures loading performance. For a good user experience, LCP should fall within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.
- First Input Delay (FID) measures interactivity. Pages with a good user experience should have an FID of 100 milliseconds or less.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures visual stability. Pages should maintain a CLS of 0.1. or less.
How Will the Page Experience Update Affect eCommerce Websites?
The Page Experience update is placing a heavier emphasis on high-speed websites. After all, a slow-loading website will never provide a good experience for any visitor. For eCommerce websites, it has become increasingly important to ensure your site speed is excellent. If you notice a drop in your rankings across the board, check your Core Web Vitals metrics in Google Search Console. If you see any issues, prioritize improving your speed to help your rankings back up. For more details on how to monitor the metrics, see the next section below.
Instead of seeing the new update as an obstacle to overcome, you should think of it as an opportunity to provide an even better user experience if your site needs improvements. A happy visitor is always more likely to convert to paying customers, so optimizing for the new update will not only perform better in relevant queries but possibly increase conversion on your site.
“…publishers should be focused on making those improvements a relative priority over time. This is because as more and more sites continue to improve their page experience, it will be the norm that publishers will want to match.”
Tools to Monitor and Improve Page Experience
Now that you have a clearer idea about the new page experience update, you may wonder where to get started and how to see if your pages provide users with a good page experience.
Google Search Console has already introduced the Page Experience report that integrates Core Web Vitals report with other components of the page experience signals, such as HTTPS security, absence of intrusive interstitials, safe browsing status, and mobile-friendliness. The report offers valuable metrics to help you understand how customers interact with your site, such as the percentage of URLs with good page experience and search impressions over time.
Google has also released numerous tools for site owners to start improving their page experience.
To begin optimizing for page experience, you should begin with a site-wide audit of your pages and see any user experience issues and what you can improve. PageSpeed Insights and Lighthouse can help you diagnose lab and field issues on a page and fix any problems you’ve uncovered in the Page Experience Report.
Lighthouse is an automated website auditing tool that will help you diagnose issues on your site and improve your customers’ user experience. The new version of the tool – Lighthouse 6.0, already includes three new metrics in the report for a better user experience. These are Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), and Total Blocking Time (TBT)— which correlates well with the field metric First Input Delay (FID).
For more guidance on improving your eCommerce site, visit web.dev/, type in your website URL, measure your page and see how it performs with metrics such as first paint and time to interactive to determine lag. It also checks your site for common issues that may prevent users from accessing your content and checks for best practices to ensure your site is discoverable.
Finally, the new updated algorithm incorporates safety and security measurements to rank eCommerce sites. It measures every website’s safety, and every eCommerce website should build a secure system to perform well in search results.
Although user experience is now an essential part of the Google algorithm, other factors such as high-quality content still play a vital or primary role in your ranking. To improve your ranking after the latest update, create the highest quality content possible and optimize your web pages for the best user experience.