Page Experience – Let’s Get Your Website Set For Google’s New Algorithm

Page Experience is Google’s Incoming New Ranking Algorithm. But at its Heart is Our Old Friend User Experience

Even a cursory look at the demonstrates the importance we place on UX. After all, user experience is at the heart of every successful website. Get it right and it’s a win-win for everyone: you, your business and your visitors.

UX, though, is also a discipline that never sits still. That can be a challenge for organisations large and small. But as new advances emerge, so do new opportunities. Smart businesses are those whose websites embrace and exploit change. And that’s why at Hookson we ensure we’re on top of all of the major UX developments.

So when a giant like Google changes the game – as this new algorithm will – we’ll help you not only keep pace, but also leave the competition standing.

Announcing Google Page Experience

So, what’s the big deal with Google’s Page Experience? In short, it’s a brand new ranking algorithm pointed squarely at user experience.

Look under the bonnet of Page Experience and you’ll discover, perhaps unsurprisingly, that residing there is a bunch of super-technical phrases.

Here at Hookson, Largest Contentful Paint is our favourite. But wipe the grime from that beauty and others (First Input Delay, anyone? Cumulative Layout Shift?) and the great news is that Page Experience actually runs on regular unleaded common sense.

The truth is, this is an advance that’s all about ensuring your website is providing the best possible experience for your users. And, connected with that, it’s also about ensuring poor UX won’t consign your business to the rankings scrapheap.

The Time to Act is Now

Page Experience is rolling out in 2021. But right now is the time to get on board. And Hookson can help you zoom way ahead of the pack.

Sitting comfortably? Let’s open the book on Google’s new Page Experience algorithm – and why it matters to your business or organisation.

The New Algorithm in Google’s Own Words

A good place to begin is with Google’s definition of Page Experience:

Page Experience is a set of signals that measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its pure information value.

All things considered, that wasn’t too bad. But now let’s look at precisely what Google means when it talks about the signals that constitute Page Experience. There are seven of these. And the good news is, every one of them makes perfect sense. You’ll almost certainly be familiar with most, if not all, of the areas it’s going to improve:

  • ·        Load times
  • ·        Interactivity
  • ·        Layout shift
  • ·        Mobile optimisation
  • ·        Safe browsing
  • ·        Secure connection
  • ·        Content accessibility

Now we’ll take a closer look at how Page Experience impacts each of these elements.

When a giant like Google changes the game, we’ll help you not only keep pace, but also leave the competition standing.

Core Web Vitals: Measuring Page Experience

The first three of our Page Experience metrics sits below the heading Core Web Vitals. Satisfying these is essential to ensuring your website pages are in great shape for a terrific UX.

Largest Contentful Paint: Ensuring Bright and Breezy Page Loads

Let’s translate. To you and me, this is all about load times. And when it comes to loading, no visitor wants to wait (and few will). But ensure fast-loading pages across all devices and you’ll reduce bounce rates, increase interaction and keep visitors on-side. Satisfy this metric by ensuring the main content of any one page is all set for interaction in the opening 2.5 seconds of your load.

First Input Delay: Clicking With Your Visitors

Interaction is at the core of this metric too. Specifically, Google looks at your website’s response-time to an interaction (like clicking a button or link). How fast is fast enough? Sub-100 milliseconds is ideal.


Cumulative Layout Shift: Keeping Things Steady

We’ve all been there: you make to click on a link, but a sudden often-inexplicable shift in the page – almost as if it’s just woken up with a start – takes you way off course. At best it’s frustrating. At worst, it can send your visitor elsewhere. So this metric – actually the only new one among the collected-together Core Web Vitals – will measure these incidences and score your site accordingly.

Search Signals: Showing You The Way

Completing the Page Experience set, Google has added the tried and trusted search signals below.

Mobile Friendliness: Packing a Pocket-Sized Punch

Responsive, mobile-friendly design is something we commented on in our recent UX blog. But it’s worth restating that ensuring a seamless experience across all devices is essential. As it’s a component of Page Experience, Google clearly agrees (and has done since 2015).

The answer isn’t to sacrifice the content your visitors love. We can optimise even the richest websites so they'll look amazing, offer intuitive UX and function like a dream.

Safe Browsing: Securing Your Online Reputation

Google detests malicious content. Page Experience will identify these sites and won’t rank those that carry it. For businesses and organisations it’s essential therefore that websites are kept free of malware, viruses, scams and other assorted nasties.

HTTPS: Letters To Depend Upon

A security staple, and an absolute must for e-commerce websites, the little padlock in the browser bar says buy with confidence.

Visitors understand HTTPS. And so does Page Experience. Consequently, its absence will harm your ranking. At Hookson, all of our e-commerce websites connect effortlessly with big-name security-conscious players like PayPal, Shopify, Stripe and WooCommerce.

No Intrusive Interstitials: Ensuring A Clear View  

Interstitials. Hard to say. But easy to understand. Interstitials are whole-page ads that, depending on your mood at the time, either complement or interrupt website content.

Used well, they’re powerful marketing devices. But when they attempt to persuade at the cost of making content less accessible they encroach on UX. And it’s, again, something Page Experience will detect and act upon.

Effective use of Interstitials is a bit of an art form. And it’s something that at Hookson we’ll be happy to advise you on.

Page Experience V Human Experience?  

So, there you have it: the seven metrics that Google’s Page Experience algorithm will soon be applying to your website’s pages.

But with the emphasis seemingly favouring the technical – load speeds, say, and interactivity and page stability – is Google forgetting all about what makes the search experience great in the first place?

In other words…

…What if I Have a Content-rich Website? Will I Have to Strip Away the Things That Make My Site Fantastic?  

Great question. And the answer is: not at all.

Applying Google’s Developers Tools to your website may well reveal areas for improvement. Slow load times, for example. A security flaw. Or maybe a mobile issue.

But the answer isn’t to sacrifice the content your visitors love. Instead, at Hookson we can optimise even the richest websites for Google’s new Page Experience algorithm. Your business can absolutely have a site that looks amazing, offers intuitive UX and functions like a dream.

Content Will Always Count

To wrap things up, Google itself concedes that amid its reliance on metrics and measurement, great content – content that engages, informs and delights – will remain a key factor in website search ranking.

Here at Hookson, we welcome that view. So, whether you need a hand to optimise an existing site or you’d like a new site created from the ground up, let’s get on the same page.