If you have had a website for any length of time, you will know that Google often updates its algorithm and that can affect how your website ranks online which in turn affects the number of visitors and, ultimately, customers who find your website. Often these changes are small and don’t really mean a great deal for website users – as long as your site continues to meet normal SEO requirements you’re good to go.
However, in May 2021, Google is launching a change that is definitely for the better AND they are giving website owners a heads up before it happens so you have a chance to ensure your website complies.
So, what is this big update?
Here it is in Google’s own words:
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.
So, what does that mean in plain English. Well, simply put it means that your website has to be easy for a visitor to use. It’s all about user experience.
The update is divided into three rather long and techie elements which I have translated below:
1. Largest Contentful Paint – how long it takes for your website to load when someone first visits your site. This needs to be decent for both desktop AND mobile but will usually differ.
2. First Input Delay – how long does a user have to wait to interact with your website once loaded. Can they click a button straight away or is there a delay in how long they have to wait to actually move around the site?
3. Cumulative Layout Shift – how many popups/chatboxes and ads pop up to make it difficult to do what you want. Think of those annoying blog posts you read that keep interupting your scroll with multiple adverts, or trying to click a button and a chatbox is in the way!
I think you will agree that these updates (as a user) are important, even more so now that over 60% of all searches are carried out on mobile – so your website needs to perform well on mobile devices when visitors click through!
What can I do to make my Website compliant?
Take a look at your website from a user’s point of view and ask these questions:
- Is it easy to navigate and find information?
- Does it take a long time to load?
- Do pop-ups and chatbots get in the way when scrolling and moving around?
- Does it work as well on mobile as it does on desktop?
If the answer to any of these is not what you want to hear then make time to redesign your website with your user in mind. Strip out the fancy long-loading images and make it faster. Think about the placement of newsletter sign-ups and ad boxes. There are ways of keeping these items without annoying your users in the process.
TOOLS TO HELP
If you’re not already clear on how many people are looking at your website, then assessing the impact of Google’s algorithm change isn’t going to be possible. So make sure you have Google Analytics installed as a minimum.
I also recommend running your website through a free site checker tool like the Neil Patel’s SEO Analyzer. This will give you a report on errors and page speed with a list of changes you can make today.
Finally, I also love Hotjar – a website that lets you track how people actually interact with your website.
The heatmap above is a snapshot of my website homepage over the past 30 days and as you can see, the greatest concentration of activity has been on my SEO link. This helps me to understand HOW visitors are interacting with my site and to make my layout clearer if I need to.
The new Google algorithm update is not to be feared – in fact it is destined to make it EASIER for smaller businesses with less clutter and more value on their websites perform better. Just take some time to check out your own website and ensure that it is performing at its optimum for you AND your visitors.
And, if you get stuck along the way, remember that I offer an SEO Review service which addresses each of these elements to help you get started.