Google has recently announced that they will be launching an update to the page ranking system in 2021, called Core Web Vitals, and we have reason to believe this will be a huge update given the ample advance notice.
Currently, Google assesses the appeal of each web page based on a number of factors, including the following:
– Safe browsing: Is the page free of malware or unsecured content?
– Security: Is the connection encrypted through HTTPS?
– Mobile-friendly: Is the website optimized for viewing on mobile devices?
– No intrusive interstitials: Does the page contain intrusive advertisements or pop-up windows that may hamper a viewer’s experience?
However, Google has identified three more factors that will be used in the coming year to assess page rankings. In the words of the tech giant:
“Core Web Vitals are a set of real-world, user-centered metrics that quantify key aspects of the user experience. They measure dimensions of web usability such as load time, interactivity, and the stability of content as it loads (so you don’t accidentally tap that button when it shifts under your finger – how annoying!)”
The addition of the new Core Web Vitals will capitalize on these user experience aspects, adding the following three more factors:
– Loading (Largest Content Paint): How long does the web page take to fully load? Ideally, this should be no more than 2.5 seconds.
– Interactivity (First Input Delay): How long before the web page allows user interaction? This should be less than 100 seconds.
– Visual Stability (Cumulative Layout Shift): How much does the page content unexpectedly shift while loading, contributing to negative user experiences? This measurement should be less than 0.1.
Google’s Core Web Vitals – The Future of Page Ranking
All these seven factors will be combined into what Google calls the “page ranking experience”. The better a website fulfills each category, the higher it will rank on Google’s new algorithm.
Google’s reasoning behind introducing these new factors is simple – it intends to encourage web developers to optimize their pages for all these areas, making the user experience across all websites a more pleasant one.
Furthermore, the web is moving in the direction of mobile devices. With billions of people worldwide spending a fair amount of their browsing time on mobile phones or tablets, it is in websites’ best interests to design their pages with versatility and mobile experience in mind.
In the coming year, we can expect page rankings on Google to change, favoring websites that cater to user experience over those that do not. While it may be difficult to predict exactly what will happen to the websites that are currently clinching top page ranks, these changes make it sound like a lot more will be factored into sorting the results for every Google search. It is worth noting that Google’s other ranking algorithms still stand – it is unlikely that a website far behind in rankings will miraculously jump to the top just by providing the best page experience out there.
What this update suggests is that theoretically, when comparing two websites with very similar content for the same keywords, the one that provides a better page experience will likely rank higher than the one with a poorer page experience. As such, if your website has comparable content to that of your competitors and ties closely with them for top page rankings, having the better page experience could possibly be the tie-breaker that nudges your website into a higher ranking above theirs.
What Should Website Owners Do?
To see where your website stands on these ranking factors, load up your favorite developer tools such as Google’s Search Console, PageSpeed Insights, or Chrome UX Report and take a look at how your website fares. If there are any highlighted areas for improvement, it would be advisable to revise those before Google rolls out their new page rankings.
Additionally, since your website will be up against others vying for placements under the same keywords, it is a good idea to have a look at your competitors’ websites and take note of what they have done well and what they can improve. You will have a better idea of what needs to be done to beef up your page rankings and building on your site from these ideas can help to give you even more of an edge over the competition.
Lastly, never let a website be static. Always try to keep your page experience up to date, especially if your website was first built some years ago. Older websites may have some code that has become deprecated or layouts that no longer function on the latest browsers and devices.
Not to worry, though, as the update will not be hitting live so soon – Google promises to give at least six months’ notice before launching it. However, it is never too early to review your website and make a note of the changes you plan to implement.