Senior SEO Consultant

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TLDR

Google has unveiled a fairly large update indicating that user experience metrics will become confirmed SEO ranking factors in 2021.

Some of these metrics include:

  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Visual stability
  • The interactivity of your page content
  • Load time
  • Safe-browsing
  • Stability of content
  • HTTPS
  • Not using intrusive interstitials

It’s also important to note that headless websites are not exempt from these new metrics, and will have potential issues if they perform poorly.

“Well, if you have anything that the user (and Googlebot) sees, your setup has a ‘head’. That’s what the core web vitals will be measured on.”- Martin Splitt, Google

Visualizing Web Vitals in Google Analytics through custom dashboards & a WP Plugin

Why We Should Care

Like most major paradigm shifts, Google has given us a lead time before these metrics become impactful so we can sort out our websites and any issues.

We can make use of tools such as the Web Vitals WP Plugin, the CRUX report in the data studio, and Google Lighthouse to monitor, measure, and resolve.

How Impactful Will This Be?

As mentioned, this isn’t the first time Google has given insights into upcoming updates but the level of impact they have does vary, for example, HTTPS has already been confirmed as being a small ranking boost, whereas the first Panda release affected an estimated 12% of websites and the initial BERT release impacted around 10% of queries.

Whilst not going live in 2020, Google has confirmed they will give a 6-month warning, but given some of these issues (such as cumulative layout shift) could be a wider business discussion and affect multiple website stakeholders and involve a large number of bureaucratic discussions.

Focusing On the User & Good Content Hasn’t Changed

Good content will still rank well within organic search despite poor metrics, especially if its a website/brand that a user would expect to appear for a query.

Even if some aspects of page experience are subpar. A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content. However, in cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search.

When you group these all together, you get this page experience name for all these elements. Google said page experience specifically is not a ranking score, but rather, each element within has its own weights and rankings in the overall Google ranking algorithm.

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