Google announces new “page experience” ranking algorithm for 2021

Google announced a new ranking algorithm that is going to go live in 2021. The new ranking algorithm has a focus on good user experience. If the user experience isn’t good, websites won’t be ranked as highly as today.

Google's page experience update 2021

What is page experience?

The page experience algorithm tries to understand how website visitors perceive a web page: how quickly it loads, how well the page is displayed on mobile phones, how ads are shown on the page, etc.

The new page experience algorithm uses existing Google ranking factors. For example, the page speed update, the mobile-friendly update, the interstitials update and the HTTPS update are part of the new algorithm. Google is going to refine the metrics that deal with usability and speed.

What are core web vitals?

Google’s announcement also explains core web vitals. These 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).

The core web vitals signals and the existing ranking signals make Google’s new page experience algorithm:

Google's page experience algorithm (Source: Google blog)

These are the core web vitals metrics:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): how quickly a web page loads. The LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.
  • First Input Delay (FID): how quickly users can interact with a page. Pages should have a FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): the visual stability of a page (jumping buttons, etc.). Pages should maintain a CLS of less than 0.1.

In addition to this, a web page should work on mobile devices, it should not contain malicious or deceptive content, it should not contain intrusive interstitials, and it should be servers over HTTPS.

When will this update be live?

According to Google, the ranking changes will not happen before next year, and Google will provide at least six months notice before they’re rolled out. There is no immediate need to take action.

Good content will still be the most important ranking factor: “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.”

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Johannes Selbach

Johannes Selbach is the CEO of SEOprofiler. He blogs about search engine optimization and website marketing topics at "http://blog.seoprofiler.com".