Google Page Experience: Is your website optimized for SEO in 2021?
In late May, 2020 Google announced a new algorithm update, called Google Page Experience (GPE), which is expected to take place sometime in 2021. Unlike previous updates, Google Page Experience will consider user experience (UX) as a ranking factor, signaling a further departure from keyword-driven towards experience-driven Search Engine Optimization (SEO). When it’s released, websites will have to comply with Google’s UX standards or risk losing visibility, leads, and sales.
Fortunately, though, Google has released a wealth of information that can help developers and domain owners to get ready ahead of time. So, if you don’t know where to start, here are 5 factors that the Google Page Experience update will prioritize in 2021.
Quick loading times
While loading speed has been a factor for years, Google Page Experience will increase its importance in 2021. To rank favorably, pages will need to have a Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) equal or lower than 2.5 seconds once the page has started to load.
The 2010s was the decade where mobile use skyrocketed. As of July 2020, there were 274 million mobile internet users in the United States, according to Statista, and this number is projected to keep growing in the coming years.
With such a huge market share, you can’t expect to rank favorably in 2021 if you ignore mobile device users. Using large fonts and accessible menus, keeping ads to a minimum, and ensuring your site is responsive and automatically resizes to fit the screen will guarantee you a great user experience and Google ranking.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS)
Is your site using a secure connection? If it isn’t, you are risking both your visitors’ information and your own page’s ranking.
For years, Google has actively promoted the use of HTTPS – a safer version of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) protocol most commonly used by e-commerce platforms. Unlike HTTP, HTTPS blocks unauthorized people’s ability to steal your users’ information. So, while in the past Google only encouraged sites that worked with credit card and personal information to use it, starting with GPE, Google’s algorithm will prioritize websites that offer secure access to its users.
This one is a no brainer. There isn’t a single internet user who enjoys pop-up ads interrupting their experience. Yet, despite this commonly-acknowledged fact, intrusive ads are found everywhere you look.
Whether it’s auto-played videos, untimely pop-ups, or flashy banners, intrusive content is meant to maximize revenue at the expense of user experience. However, when GPE arrives, pop-up ads will lose their profitability as advertisers will be forced to develop new marketing strategies that won’t mess up a page’s user experience and visibility.
Smooth layout loading
Nothing confuses web users more than seeing a page’s content bounce all over the place while they’re trying to read it. This layout shifting is particularly frustrating for mobile users, as the wiggling around the screen can transform domain navigation into a game of Whack-A-Mole.
The good news is that this problem is easy to fix. Most of the time, jumping content is caused by elements loading asynchronously – especially if you use Ajax on your website. However, by using some basic CSS, you can use smooth transitions to load your page without disturbing your users’ experience.
Google is notorious for changing its algorithm almost at random. However, when it comes to Google Page Experience, Google has warned website owners well ahead of time. Plus, with the wealth of information available online, there really is no excuse not to make your domain comply with this new update. So, whether your site is slow to load or is riddled with popups, make it your New Year’s resolution to increase your user experience for 2021!
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