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Core Web Vitals and Page Experience: Towards a Better User Experience

by Divij Mehta about a year ago in tech news

May 2020 has been a busy month for the search team at Google with many changes including the May 2020 algorithm update and the announcement of a new ranking factor, page experience. This blog discusses some of these changes in detail.

Core Web Vitals and Page Experience: Towards a Better User Experience
Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

At the end of May 2020, Google through its webmaster blog announced that page experience will soon be a ranking factor.

Over the years Google has emphasised on user experience in some form or the other including paying attention to page speed, mobile responsiveness, utilising the mobile version of a site to create their Index and quite recently core web vitals.

Here is some further information on each of these updates over the years,

• Page Speed or Speed Update: In 2018, the algorithms started to consider the mobile page load speed as a ranking factor. This factor was said to affect a very small number of pages on the search results given that search intent still played an important role in getting a top position on SERPs. In other words, if a page has a page has highly relevant content but a slow page load speed, it still has a high probability to coming up on page 1 of search results.

• Mobile friendliness: Another update by Google in the past included looking at the mobile responsiveness or friendliness of a page to determine its position on the SERPs. Given that the users have changed their browsing habits in the past 5 years, moving from desktops to mobile devices, this made complete sense. The aim was to provide users with a good overall user experience while they browsed a site utilising their mobile devices.

• Mobile-first Index: In 2018, Google rolled out a new update termed as the mobile-first index, this update meant that the search engines now focused on the mobile versions of a site to create their index and to provide ranking to a site.

In 2020 things look no different, users or particularly user experience is at the forefront of what Google is doing to evolve its search engines and as such they have announced core web vitals, a new standard in measurement of performance of a webpage.

More on Core Web Vitals

Core web vitals are a set of metrics that focus on the overall experience of a user while they browse a webpage. These metrics include:

• Largest Contentful Paint measures perceived load speed and marks the point in the page load timeline when the page's main content has likely loaded.

• First Input Delay measures responsiveness and quantifies the experience users feel when trying to first interact with the page.

• Cumulative Layout Shift measures visual stability and quantifies the amount of unexpected layout shift of visible page content.

Ways to Measure Core Web Vitals

Now in order for webmasters and website owners to measure their website performance in line with the newly launched metrics Google has provided core web vitals as a part of a number of different tools.

These include Search Console, PageSpeed Insights, Lighthouse, Chrome DevTools, Chrome UX Report and Web Vitals Extension.

Page Experience: The New Ranking Factor

Finally at the end of May 2020, Google also announced page experience to join the hundreds of other ranking signals that its core algorithm will use to determine the rank of a webpage.

Page experience is a set of criteria which will enable search engines to determine how a user might perceive a page as they land and browse through it. This includes the newly launched metrics core web vitals and existing signals such as mobile friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS and use of intrusive interstitials.

While these factors will play a major role, Google also said that content still plays the most important part in determining the rank of a page.

What Next?

I guess there is still time for webmasters and SEO experts to create a strategy on how they can work towards improving the performance of their sites in line with the above-mentioned changes.

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Divij Mehta



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