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Google Page Experience Update Checklist

The Google Page Experience update is rolling out right NOW and will be complete by the end of August 2021:

google page experience update announcement

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:

zero percent page experience score

Then now is the perfect time for you to get ahead of the algorithm and leave the zero percenters behind.

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.

(Click Here For 12 SEO Case Studies)

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
  • HTTPS
  • No intrusive interstitials

Page Experience & Core Web Vitals

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.

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:

LCP Important Elements

According to Google, the LCP of your web pages should be no more than 2.5 seconds.

Largest Contentful Paint

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.

First Input Delay

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.

YouTube video

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.

Cumulative Layout Shift

Why Is Page Experience Important?

Google mission accomplishedGoogle’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.

Google Core Web Vitals Report

The report categorizes URLs into three categories for desktop and mobile:

  1. Poor URLs
  2. URLs need improvement
  3. Good URLs

Clicking on any report will give you more information about the current issues:

details of problems with core web vitals in google search console

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.

Page Experience Report - Google Search Console

The report combines the Core Web Vitals report with other page experience signals like:

  • HTTPS
  • Safe browsing
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Intrusive interstitials
  • Ad experience violations

Page Experience Signals - Google Search Console
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:

pagespeed insights core web vitals

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:

things for you to fix

I’ll talk you through the easiest way to fix all of these types of problem in a moment.

PRO TIP: You can use BatchSpeed to run bulk Pagespeed Insights reports

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)

lighthouse report

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-

lighthouse recommendations

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.

YouTube video

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
  • PerfMatters – Allows you to control CSS and JS on the page level. Eg by default you load contact form javascript on every page, even when there isn’t a contact form
  • 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

That combination of plugins and services will absolutely transform your Google Page Experience metrics and Core Web Vitals.

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.

NitroPack Plugin

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

You can visit the NitroPack homepage to test your website and see what it can do:

nitropack test result

Take a look at my NitroPack Review to learn more.

Magento Solution

If you are running on Magento then the easiest solution available to you is NitroPack.

Just install the plugin:

magento nitropack plugin

And once you are setup…

…you can manage your Magento stores performance directly in the dashboard:

magento site performance dashboard

It doesn’t get much easier than that but take a look at this guide or this guide to learn more ways you can speed up Magento.

Shopify Solution

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:

Other than that I highly suggest you consult 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.

Mobile Friendly Test

#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.

Safe Browsing

#3 – HTTPS

If you haven’t already made the switch to HTTPS, there’s no time like the present.

HTTPS

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.

Interstitial Ads Types

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.

Google ad experience report

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

Google were kind enough to give us a headsup about the Google Page Experience update way back in November 2020.

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!

Click Here For 12 SEO Case Studies

search logistics

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