Google introducing page experience as a search ranking factor

Google

Google said that through both internal studies and industry research, users show they prefer sites with a great page experience. In recent years, Search has added a variety of user experience criteria, such as how quickly pages load and mobile-friendliness, as factors for ranking results.

Google will be introducing a new signal that combines Core Web Vitals with other existing signals for page experience to provide a holistic picture of the quality of a user’s experience on a web page. These page experience metrics will soon be incorporated into an upcoming Search ranking change.

Earlier this month, the Chrome team announced Core Web Vitals, a set of metrics related to speed, responsiveness and visual stability, to help site owners measure user experience on the web. Google also updated their developer tools to help site owners optimize their page experience.

As part of this update, Google will also incorporate the page experience metrics into the ranking criteria for the Top Stories feature in Search on mobile, and remove the AMP requirement from Top Stories eligibility. This is a much welcomed change as many websites (including all of mine) chose not to use AMP for various reasons. Google said it continues to support AMP, and will continue to link to AMP pages when available.

What Google said about page experience:

The page experience signal measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page. Optimizing for these factors makes the web more delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces, and helps sites evolve towards user expectations on mobile. We believe this will contribute to business success on the web as users grow more engaged and can transact with less friction. Core Web Vitals are a set of real-world, user-centered metrics that quantify key aspects of the user experience. They measure dimensions of web usability such as load time, interactivity, and the stability of content as it loads (so you don’t accidentally tap that button when it shifts under your finger – how annoying!).

We’re combining the signals derived from Core Web Vitals with our existing Search signals for page experience, including mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS-security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines, to provide a holistic picture of page experience. Because we continue to work on identifying and measuring aspects of page experience, we plan to incorporate more page experience signals on a yearly basis to both further align with evolving user expectations and increase the aspects of user experience that we can measure.

Page experience ranking

Great page experiences enable people to get more done and engage more deeply; in contrast, a bad page experience could stand in the way of a person being able to find the valuable information on a page. By adding page experience to the hundreds of signals that Google considers when ranking search results, we aim to help people more easily access the information and web pages they’re looking for, and support site owners in providing an experience users enjoy. For some developers, understanding how their sites measure on the Core Web Vitals—and addressing noted issues—will require some work. To help out, we’ve updated popular developer tools such as Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights to surface Core Web Vitals information and recommendations, and Google Search Console provides a dedicated report to help site owners quickly identify opportunities for improvement. We’re also working with external tool developers to bring Core Web Vitals into their offerings. While all of the components of page experience are important, we will prioritize pages with the best information overall, even if some aspects of page experience are subpar. A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content. However, in cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search.

Page experience and the mobile Top Stories feature

The mobile Top Stories feature is a premier fresh content experience in Search that currently emphasizes AMP results, which have been optimized to exhibit a good page experience. Over the past several years, Top Stories has inspired new thinking about the ways we could promote better page experiences across the web. When we roll out the page experience ranking update, we will also update the eligibility criteria for the Top Stories experience. AMP will no longer be necessary for stories to be featured in Top Stories on mobile; it will be open to any page. Alongside this change, page experience will become a ranking factor in Top Stories, in addition to the many factors assessed. As before, pages must meet the Google News content policies to be eligible. Site owners who currently publish pages as AMP, or with an AMP version, will see no change in behavior – the AMP version will be what’s linked from Top Stories.

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About Konstantinos Zournas

I studied Computer Engineering and Computer Science in London, UK and now live in Athens, Greece. I love domains and building websites. I am online since 1995, learned about HTML in 1996 and about domains in 2002. I started publishing the OnlineDomain.com blog in 2012.

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