Google Confirms May 2021 Launch
In October, we talked in-depth about the Google Page Experience update. And, last week Google confirmed that this new algorithm is set to launch in May of next year, which gives businesses six months or so to prepare for the launch.
The update is designed to allow Google to assess the kind of experience a user might have on a website and reflect this in the search results to help further define website rankings.
Google also announced it will be using a visual indicator to highlight which search results have the best page experience.
To see the full update from Google, click here>.
Page Experience: Explained
To get to grips with how a user will interact with a specific webpage, Google will be evaluating a set of signals, which among other things will include:
- Page load speed
- Mobile friendliness
- Intrusive interstitials
- The position of content as the page loads
For a list of all the signals, click here>
As we outlined in our previous post, page experience will incorporate several existing Google ranking factors from previous updates. These include the mobile-friendly update, page speed update, HTTPS ranking boost, intrusive interstitials penalty, and safe browsing penalty. These are put together as “Core Web Vitals.”
What Are These Visual Indicators of User Experience?
Once the new Page Experience algorithm is fully rolled out, Google confirmed it would experiment with ways to display some kind of visual indicator for searchers. This is expected to inform a searcher if they can anticipate a good experience from a website, or not.
“Google has tested similar visual indicators before when using AMP icons, mobile-friendly labels, and slow labels,” said Quibble’s Co-owner and Technical Director Adam Mason.
“I’m not sure how long the user experience indicators will appear in search results; it all depends on if Google decides, based on the data they gather, if it is worth displaying over the long-term.” He concludes.
In a statement, Google said, “We believe that providing information about the quality of a web page’s experience can be helpful to users in choosing the search result that they want to visit.”
“On results, the snippet or image preview helps provide topical context for users to know what information a page can provide. Visual indicators on the results are another way to do the same, and we are working on one that identifies pages that have met all of the page experience criteria.”
Google said you might see these icons and labels in the search results imminently, “we plan to test this soon, and if the testing is successful, it will launch in May 2021.”
Preparing the Page Experience Update
“Ideally, you should begin preparing for the update as soon as you can,” says Adam. “Use the Core Web Vitals report in your Google Search Console to get a sense of how your site is performing in those key areas.”
It’s been confirmed that AMP isn’t necessary for articles to appear in the “Top Stories” carousel in search after this update rolls out in May too. Google will continue to provide support for AMP though, branding it “one of the easiest and cost-effective ways for publishers looking to achieve great page experience outcomes.”
If you publish an AMP version of your content, Google Search will “link to that cache-optimized AMP version to help optimize delivery to users, just as is the case today,” continued the Google statement.
“How big an impact this will have on rankings isn’t obvious at the moment. Many professionals in the industry expect them to be quite minor, considering that most of the Page Experience signals are already in place.”
“However, this could be wrong and it could become a larger ranking factor since it is not very often that Google provides a clear ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ with the tools they provide and they have does pretty much this in the recent Google page speed tool updates.” Explains Adam.
“But the visual indicator that Google have announced will give marketers, particularly those working in-house, more wiggle room when trying to push for more focus on these crucial areas of page experience.” He concludes.
From now until the update in 2021, you need to be specifically ensuring the following are up to scratch on your website:
- Load speeds.
- Visual stability.
- Mobile friendliness.
- Safe browsing.
- HTTPS enabled.
- No intrusive interstitials.
Login to your Google Search Console to check these elements more closely.
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