May 30, 2020
It's official: Google cares about the experience people have on your website.
In fact, it will factor in how well they rank you.
Google recently announced a project Web Vitals and the implications for founders, business owners, and website managers are staggering. This tool that Google released (full announcement here) allows you to view Google's official guidance on how they view the experience on your website, and how to improve it.
It's been debated for years: does page experience actually affect the rank of your website? With this project, and a recent post on the Google webmasters blog the answer is yes. Now it's been reported that this won't kick in until 2021, but you could argue, given how Google does things, this has already been in effect for a while and now is just coming to light.
By adding page experience to the hundreds of signals that Google considers when ranking search results, we aim to help people more easily access the information and web pages they’re looking for, and support site owners in providing an experience users enjoy.
Google Webmasters Blog
This means how quickly your website loads, how accessible it is matters.
It also means that if your site is loaded with popups or interactions are delayed, that matters too. If your site is clunky, slow, or full of crud then it can hurt your rank when compared to sites that are more svelte. Google does say that a page with better content can still win out, but if two pages have an equal quality of content then the experience will end of being the definitive factor in which one ranks.
In short, if you want to rank your website has to go fast.
Any time Google makes an announcement it's tempting to make a mad dash towards improvements and checking every little detail. Instead, slow down. There are tools out there that you can use to start assessing where to make improvements. This is the part of SEO that gets technical, so take a deep breathe, pull over your web developer (or a friend who's good with websites) and take an afternoon to start digging.
Most content management platforms will allow for the fixes outlined by these tools, depending on your platform of choice things can get more complicated but they should all be doable.
First off, try the new product! You can access Web Vitals right in the new chrome extension to start seeing your site performance live as you browse your pages.
The tool focuses on three core metrics now: how quick the page is to load, how interactive the page is, and the page's visual stability.
This sounds a bit technical already, but it's not too bad. Ask yourself, is your website slow to load or fast? When users click on things, are reactions immediate or do they take a while? Is content resizing or moving around as people interact with the site?
These core metrics capture crud and jank that get in the way of your content and turn visitors off.
Web Vitals isn't the only tool available though, Google Page Speed Insights is another excellent place to start as it provides a full technical breakdown of your website to go over with your web developer and start fixing. Most of the insights here related to page load times and ways to improve the overall experience. Simply plug any URL into the tool and it will return a full report complete with prioritized fixes (and it's completely free!).
At Centori we are looking into ways to surface data and insights in our optimization dashboard to show you how well your site is performing, and where improvements need to be made. Stay tuned for a future product update as we start introducing our own dashboards incorporating this data.
Start playing around with the tools and see where you can make improvements.
If the updates don't officially kick in until 2021 you've got plenty of time to get comfortable and start making changes.Every time Google announces a ranking factor it's another opportunity to improve your content and rank. This is definitely a big opportunity as any website - big or small - can make improvements here and start improving their rank.
Be sure to stay tuned for future announcements on our product blog as we explore how we can bring these insights to the Centori platform, giving your team a full view of how your site is performing and steps you can take to make it perfect. SEO can seem complex and complicated, but it's just boils down to creating great content that answers questions and formatting in a way that Google will like.
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