The Google Page Experience update fully rolled out on September 2nd 2021:
So that means if you have not paid any attention to Core Web Vitals…
…or your Page Experience report in Google Search Console looks like this:
Then now is the perfect time for you to get ahead of the algorithm!
We’ve helped all of our clients prepare for this update already so I’m going to show you how to measure and improve the core page experience metrics for your website.
What Will I Learn?
- What Is Page Experience?
- Why Is Page Experience Important?
- Google Page Experience Update Checklist
- Measuring Page Experience Metrics
- Fixing Your Page Experience Problems
- Other Page Experience Signals
What Is Page Experience?
Page Experience is a combination of existing Google ranking factors with the addition of a new set of performance-related factors called Core Web Vitals.
These pre-existing signals are:
- Mobile friendly
- Safe browsing
- No intrusive interstitials
What Are Core Web Vitals?
Core Web Vitals are a set of three performance related metrics that look at the loading, interactivity and visual stability of a page.
This is done with 3 core metrics-
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
- First Input Delay (FID)
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Get those right and you will beat the Google Page Experience update.
So let’s take a look at what each of those metrics actually mean and how you can turn the dials in your favor.
Click here to see how to improve Core Web Vitals.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures the loading performance of the largest piece of content on a web page.
More specifically, LCP looks at the time taken for Google to render “the largest image or text block visible within the viewport, relative to when the page first started loading”.
The types of page elements that are considered for LCP are:
According to Google, the LCP of your web pages should be no more than 2.5 seconds.
First Input Delay (FID)
The First Input Delay (FID) metric measures the interactivity of a web page.
FID looks at the time the browser takes to respond to the user’s first interaction on a page.
Examples of interactions include:
- Clicking on a link or button
- Clicking on a checkbox
- Inputting text into a form
…or selecting an option from a drop-down menu.
Note that scrolling or zooming in or out of a page is not considered interactions.
A good FID score is 100 milliseconds or less.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures visual stability.
This is a relatively new metric that accounts for unexpected layout shifts on a web page.
In the example provided by Google below, you can see how the contents of the page shifts after the “No, go back” button is clicked.
The idea is to minimise sudden shifts in the content that result in a poor user experience.
You should strive to have a CLS score of less than 0.1.
Why Is Page Experience Important?
Google’s core mission is to:
“Organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”
With this in mind, the user’s search experience is crucial in ensuring that this mission is accomplished.
After all, if the results Google displays don’t provide the user with what they’re looking for, then Google’s entire model falls flat.
Therefore, the fact that Google has now dedicated an update specifically targeted towards page experience, emphasises the importance of making sure that your website delivers an engaging and useful experience to users.
So it’s worth putting Page Experience into the context of the other 200+ ranking factors that Google uses to determine search rankings.
Google Page Experience Update Checklist
We’ve helped all of our clients prepare for this update so I want to share a quickfire checklist to help you overcome the Google Page Experience update.
First I’m going to show you how to measure your problems, then I’m going to show you how to fix them!
Measuring Page Experience Metrics
Before we do anything else, we need to find out where we stand right now.
There are a few tools that you can use to do that:
Google Search Console
There are two reports in Google Search Console that allow you to measure page experience metrics accurately.
These reports are the “gold standard” and ultimately you want to see 100% good URL’s in both the Core Web Vitals and Page Experience reports.
The Core Web Vitals Report
The simplest way to measure the Core Web Vitals metrics for your website is via the Core Web Vitals report in Google Search Console.
The report categorizes URLs into three categories for desktop and mobile:
- Poor URLs
- URLs need improvement
- Good URLs
Clicking on any report will give you more information about the current issues:
It’s important that you are reporting 100% of your URLs as Good on mobile because that is the only way to improve the Page Experience report below.
The Page Experience Report
Once URL’s are showing as Good on mobile in your Core Web Vitals report, this qualifies them for the Page Experience report.
Google introduced the Page Experience report in GSC which summarises the user experience of the pages on your website.
The report combines the Core Web Vitals report with other page experience signals like:
- Safe browsing
- Intrusive interstitials
- Ad experience violations
The Page Experience report tells you what percentage of URLs are deemed to provide a good user experience along with the number of search impressions over time.
Clicking each of the components of the other page experience signals provides further opportunities for improving your scores.
You can find out more about the new Page Experience report in GSC here.
Google Pagespeed Insights
If you want to get a real-time look at your Google Page Experience & Core Web Vitals metrics then you can use Google PageSpeed Insights:
It only takes a moment to run a report…
…but unlike Google Search Console you can scroll down for a list of things to fix:
I’ll talk you through the easiest way to fix all of these types of problem in a moment.
Google Chrome Lighthouse Report
If you use Google Chrome you can generate a report directly from the browser.
Just load the page you want to test, right click anywhere and click on inspect (ctrl+shift+i)
Then navigate to the Lighthouse Tab and click on Generate Report.
Once it is finished you will have a complete report that shows all your problems-
Then you just have to fix them!
Fixing Your Page Experience Problems
If you’re running on WordPress then fixing your Page Experience problems is easy!
But if you are running on a platform like Shopify or Magento, you’ve got a bit of a fight on your hands but I’ll cover all of the options.
Wordpress Solution #1
You can fix most of your problems by using the right combination of plugins and services to optimise your sites speed.
If you are on a budget here are 6 ways you can do that for free.
But given that the user experience of your site touches everything from search traffic to conversion rates, I highly recommend you get setup with-
- Good Hosting – I recommend Kinsta or WPX Hosting (see my fastest wordpress hosting testing)
- WP Rocket – Includes tons of features like Google Font optimization, Facebook pixel optimization and too many other things to list
- ShortPixel – The best way to compress images and generate webP as well as AVIF versions of those images
- CloudFlare Pro with APO – Takes care of a ton of speed optimisations and makes your site fast globally. Make sure you enable Automatic Platform Optimization
It will take you around 3 hours to setup and there’s no need to hire an expensive developer.
Wordpress Solution #2
Another way you could go is with NitroPack.
It only takes a few minutes to setup but is jam-packed with features:
- CSS Optimization – It will extract and load the CSS you need first
- JS Optimization – That actually works without breaking your entire site
- Image Optimisation – Webp images, adaptrive image sizing, compression and lazy loading
- CDN – Including Brotli, Gzip and HTTP/2
- Other Features – Automatic ad, pixel and Google Font optimizations
Take a look at my NitroPack Review to learn more.
If you are running on Magento then the easiest solution available to you is NitroPack.
Just install the plugin:
And once you are setup…
…you can manage your Magento stores performance directly in the dashboard:
If you are running on Shopify, you have an uphill battle ahead of you.
Unlike Wooocommerce and Magneto, we don’t have control of all of the most important factors on Shopify.
There are two Shopify Apps that can help you though:this guide or this guide as speeding Shopify up usually needs developer support.
Other Page Experience Signals
In addition to the Core Web Vitals, you should also pay attention to the other pre-existing page experience signals that Google has already been using.
#1 – Mobile-friendly Test
To check whether your web page is mobile-friendly, use this tool.
#2 – Safe-browsing
To check whether your site has any issues that are related to safe-browsing, use the Security Issues report in Google Search Console.
#3 – HTTPS
If you haven’t already made the switch to HTTPS, there’s no time like the present.
Follow this guide to check whether your page is secure.
#4 – No Intrusive Interstitials
Help users access your website’s main content by reducing any intrusive interstitials that spoil the user experience.
This includes minimising the number of popups that cover large portions of the main content.
You can find examples of interstitials that are considered as intrusive along with those that would be accepted by Google here.
#5 – Ad Experience Report
You can use the Ad Experience Report to make sure you are not using ambitious advertising techniques.
If you are showing any problems here fix them immediately because they directly affect the Google Page Experience report in Google Search Console.
Wrapping It Up
The Google Page Experience update means that now is the time to ensure that your website:
- Includes great content (which should be the primary focus in your SEO efforts)
- Provides the user with a positive, engaging experience
So if you haven’t yet made a start on optimising your website’s page experience…
…right now is the time to do so because you’re losing out on search traffic every day!