How to manage Google’s Page Experience Update

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How to manage Google’s Page Experience Update

A lot has happened over the past 16 months or so, with first Brexit and then the COVID pandemic adding a considerable amount of stress and worry to all our lives and now there’s Google’s Page Experience update. UK GDPR also came into effect on January 1st 2021, and while it retains the same framework as EU GDPR, with everything that has happened since the start of 2020 some people may have forgotten that it is a legal requirement every website must adhere to.

It’s something we’ve been thinking more about recently following a conversation with someone who was building their own website using Squarespace. They performed a cookie analysis using Cookiebot (a tool that we highly recommend) and the report revealed a huge amount of cookies on the site.  

While the arrival of self-build and page builder providers like Wix and Squarespace (and WordPress page builders like Elementor) offer a lot of convenience to smaller businesses they also have a few major downsides. One of the key issues faced by many who use these platforms is slow page load times which can heavily impact the way people engage with your site and ultimately lead to a fall in visitor traffic. 

The issue is derived from sites being overloaded with excess code like CSS and JavaScript. For example, in the report produced by Cookiebot we mentioned above, a single YouTube embed was creating 6 tracking cookies. When you add in the countless other cookies and pieces of code all carrying out their own tasks you can understand why a Squarespace website struggles to achieve anything close to peak performance.  

Google and the new Page Experience update 

A slow-loading website will no longer just affect how people interact with your website. It will now also directly affect how Google rank your website in their search engine. This means the less attention you pay to page load times, the more it will negatively impact where you appear in search results. 

Discussion about the above leads us to an important Google update that has recently started its roll out. Since mid-June 2021 Google’s Page Experience became a key part of their ranking systems with completion currently due for the end of August. 

The update has introduced a number of new signals that will optimise the browsing experience for users. After analysis every website page will be given its own ‘Page Experience’ score which can be seen in Search Console. In order to achieve a good score it will need to perform well in the following areas:

  • Core web vitals: This can be found in the ‘Enhancements’ section of your Search Console. The three areas it covers is Largest Contentful Paint (loading speed for a user), First Input Delay (time taken to interact with your page) and Cumulative Layout Shift (if any elements of the page move around when loading).
  • Mobile usability: Assesses how mobile ready your website is and how easy it is for users to interact with it on mobile devices. The focus is more on how the website feels for the user rather than the actual aesthetics. 
  • Security issues: The Page Experience score takes into account any security issues that may exist on your website. If any exist you may be disqualified from achieving a ‘Good’ status until they are rectified. 
  • HTTPS usage: Your website must be served over HTTPS otherwise it will not be eligible to rank for a ‘Good’ status.
  • Ad experience: The advertising techniques used on the site must not interrupt or distract the user. Anything that affects the experience will have a negative impact on the score. 

Page loading speed has become increasingly important in Google rankings and optimisation in this area should be top priority. There are a number of things you can do to improve the loading speed, such as using a reliable hosting provider, optimising images and reducing the amount of cookies and plugins that are used on the site. 

The less load and stress you put onto your website, the faster and more efficiently it will run. Ultimately, you want as much control as possible over the cookies and code used on your website, which is only achievable by having professional build that doesn’t rely on third party software. 

Checking your current Page Experience status 

This is a big change to the way Google rank and show results to users, so it’s important that you understand what the next steps should be. Have a look at some of the below to get a clearer idea of your current metrics.

Head to the Google Search Console where you’ll find two key reports. When you achieve 100% in both then your site is fully optimised according to Google’s ranking system. 

Core Web Vitals report: The report will give you a comprehensive breakdown of the page URLs to show you which ones are poor, good and in need of improvement. When you click into any area of the report it will show you more relevant detail. However, if you want to improve the Page Experience all URLs must first be marked as ‘Good’ on mobile. 

Page Experience report: Once you have all URLs marked as ‘Good’ it puts them in a great position for the Page Experience report. This report reveals how well your site ranks in terms of usability for visitors. It will look at mobile friendliness, HTTPS status, security, ad experience and intrusive interstitials and tell you what percentage of URLs rank as ‘Good’.  

You can also see how your website ranks in real-time by checking Google PageSpeed Insights and once the report is run it will also show areas that need to be fixed. 

Google Chrome users can generate a Google Chrome Lighthouse Report directly from the browser. After you have loaded the page, right click and then choose ‘Inspect’. Go to the ‘Lighthouse’ tab and then ‘Generate Report’. The report will then be generated and show you any existing issues that needs to be fixed. 

How a bad Page Experience impacts your website 

While it’s important to see where the problems exist on your website and what needs to be done to improve the user experience, it might feel a little too technical and you may not know how to implement the necessary changes. 

If you are using a platform like Squarespace or Wix there is also a limit to the scope of changes you can implement – a limitation you won’t experience with a professional build. 

It also shouldn’t be forgotten that making these changes isn’t just a box ticking exercise to help your Google rankings. The various components included in Page Experience directly correlate to how well users are interacting with your website. 

So not only can a poor page experience negatively impact your rankings, reduce traffic and affect revenue, it will also change the way people look at your brand and products/services, which directly correlates to your online reputation. 

Changing your customer’s Page Experience 

The way to avoid many of these issues is to opt for a professional build that will enable you to decide the amount of cookies and third party software embedded in your site. The first step is to carry out a website review to understand the extent of the issues affecting your website’s performance. 

At JLWD we offer a free website review and take time to understand your business and what you want to achieve with your new build. To avoid being heavily impacted by Google’s Page Experience update contact us on 020 3637 1260 or email hello@johnlawley.co.uk

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