What You Should Know About the 2021 Google Algorithm Update

May 20, 2021

Google keeps updating their search algorithms, and this year there is an update coming. In May 2021 Google announced that search ranking will include page experience signals. This algorithm update will be effective by June this year. User experience or UX is an important aspect of a successful website. Now, it will be one of the ranking factors for web pages. Page experience signals measure how the users feel about their experience with any web page. This helps Google provide the users with websites or web pages that are useful and fun to interact with.

The goal with these updates is to provide the users with more relevant and quality websites. Along with helping users find the right information, it will also ensure a seamless user experience. In this article, we will discuss all the changes that are going to happen with this update so that you can be prepared for it. Keep in mind that page experience is not the only ranking factor. However, you need to be aware of these updated metrics as you can use them to optimize your website to help improve your search engine rankings.

Let’s look at the algorithm update which Google is going to launch in 2021.

Page experience signals

Page experience considers how users interact with any website or web page and their experience with it. Along with a great page experience, Google also looks for relevant and quality content.

Here are the signals that are important for to create a good page experience for Google Search:

Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals are metrics which focus on loading, interactivity, and visual stability. They are as follows:

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This focuses on measuring load speed of a web page. Loading speed is an important element that determines the quality of a website. According to Google, sites should aim to have LCP occur within the first 2.5 seconds. Faster loading webpages, create a good page experience.

First Input Display (FID): This measures the time from when a user first lands to the time the browser begins processing the interaction. To provide a good page experience, sites should aim to have a FID of 100 milliseconds or less.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This metric measures the sudden and unexpected movements on a web page. It tracks how many unexpected layout shifts occur during the entire lifespan of a page. A CLS score of less than 0.1 is ideal to create a good user experience.

Mobile-friendly

Majority of Google searches are done through mobile devices. Hence, to have a good page experience, a website should be mobile-friendly or optimized for mobile devices.

Safe browsing

The web pages should not contain any malicious, spammy, or unresponsive content. The page should be safe for users and not direct them toward any other harmful sites.

HTTPS

The security of the user’s data contributes to creating a good user experience. HTTPS is an internet communication protocol that protects the confidential data between the user’s computer and the site. Users need to feel safe when using your website as that helps increase trust. Adopting HTTPS to protect your user’s data and improve page experience.

No intrusive interstitials

When a user comes to your site, they should have access to your content without any interruptions. If there are any disruptions like pop-ups, it can annoy the user. This leads to them leaving your webpage without interacting. If you use interstitials, ensure that they are minimal and do not interrupt the users.

A new page experience report in Search Console

Along with the page experience update, Google is also introducing the page experience report. This report provides existing insights of Core Web Vitals report along with its other elements like safe browsing, HTTPS, mobile-friendliness and more. Page experience report provides useful metrics like percentage of URLs with a good user experience and search impressions over time. This allows you to measure your website performance effectively.  To make improvements you can also analyze the different components of page experience we discussed above.

In addition, Google has also updated the Search Performance report that enables you to filter pages with good page experience. It helps you keep a track of how these pages perform compared to other pages on your website.

Tips to boost page experience

Now that we are aware about the algorithm update, let’s find out how we can be prepared for it.

Optimize for mobile search

As discussed above many people prefer doing Google searches through their mobile devices. Previously, Google has already made an update called mobile-first indexing, where search engines first scan whether the web page is mobile-friendly. Even in the current update we see the importance of optimizing your website for mobile devices. Check to see if your website is mobile-friendly.

If your website is not mobile-friendly, then you should optimize it. It helps your website to be more accessible to people using mobile devices. The website layout should be simple and functional. It should look appealing on small screens to promote more engagement.

Page speed

Another element to create a good page experience is to improve the page speed. When users land on your website they should not have to wait long for the web page to load. This leads to increased bounce rate, where people exit your website without interacting. There are many reasons that can cause your web page to slow down. Heavy files on page, server response times or any other errors.

Track your page speed and analyze what may be causing delays on your web page. Compress the size of your images and videos to help the page load faster.

Make content more accessible

Intrusive interstitials can discourage users from interacting with your content. Even though you may have the content that users are looking for, interstitials can visually obscure it. This can frustrate the users as they are not able to access the content easily. Pages that have intrusive interstitials provide a poor page experience compared to the pages that have content which is easily accessible.

Showing a popup that covers the entire screen when a user first lands on a webpage will hide the content. Similarly, displaying a standalone interstitial that users must close before accessing the content can be annoying. To create a good page experience, allow the users to freely access the content without interrupting them with annoying popups. Keep interstitials minimal so that it allows users to interact with the content easily.

Keep your site secure

Security issues can hamper your page experience. Users are now very careful about the type of site they interact with. Trust and security are an important factor that helps create a good user experience. Check if your website is safe for browsing with the Security Issues report.

Security issues may be related to the following categories:

Hacked content: This content is placed on your website without your permission due to the lack of security on your site. To protect users from hacked content, Google tries to keep these pages out of search results.

Malware and unwanted software: This is the software that harms the user’s devices. It may be installed by a hacker or the site owner.

Social engineering: This tricks users into taking an action that can be dangerous such as sharing their confidential information.

Ensure that you keep a check on your website and analyze the issues further to deal with them. Security issues can have a negative impact on your search rankings.

Now that you are aware about the upcoming algorithm update, you can prepare your website. As mentioned earlier, page experience is not the only factor determining your search rankings. However, it is an important one as not paying attention to this aspect can hamper the overall success of your website. Take this opportunity to review your website and improve it to create a better page experience for your users.

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