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Google page experience update to launch May 2021 with new labels in search results

08 April 2021

More than a year has passed since Google first announced the page experience update, with the launch set for May this year. Any updates to Google’s ranking system need to be seriously considered when planning search engine optimisation, and with just a few weeks left until the launch, we thought it would be useful to take you through the most important points.

What is Google page experience?

The main point to note is that user experience will soon be taken into account in Google rankings, with a visual indicator tool highlighting pages with a great user experience. As part of Google’s evaluation of a website page, a set of signals will be analysed. These include page load speed, mobile responsiveness, visual stability, and whether the site has HTTPS and intrusive interstitials.

So far, we know that the result of the user experience tests will be shown via a search page visual indicator. It is unclear how this will look; however, we have already seen similar labels used when highlighting AMP icons, mobile-friendly websites, and slow websites. Google has not released a sample of how this may appear, but with only a few weeks to go until the update there is not long to wait.

Improving search experience

The update is the latest feature to be announced by Google and it is obviously in line with the search engine’s goal of providing an excellent search experience. Result pages are continually developing to provide users with an indicator of page quality and relevance, with previous updates including the addition of page snippets and image previews.

It is expected that the new visual indicators will be used in a similar context so that searchers can quickly identify the best pages to visit based on the page experience criteria. At the moment it is unclear whether the visual indicators will be a permanent feature within search engine result pages, but with testing well underway we should soon start to see them making an appearance.

What makes a great user experience?

You may have already optimised for many of the user experience factors, however, if your site has been neglected for several years you may need to make some updates to improve visitor numbers. There are several factors which you will need to consider if you want your site to offer a great user experience, including:

  1. Page load speed – The faster your pages load, the better the user experience.
  2. Page design and structure – An easy to navigate page with a great structure and minimal pop-ups will be easier to use than a confusing design.
  3. Engagement – Website visitors want to be entertained and understood, so your website pages should engage visitors.

As you can see there are several factors that impact website traffic performance, but it is never too late to prepare for Google updates.

Preparing for the Google page experience update

There are a variety of tools which are available, including the Core Web Vitals report, which is available within your Google Search Console. This will provide an excellent overview of how well your site is currently performing.

Many of the details included within the report will form the basis of the new page experience criteria, which makes this a great place to start. For example, if page load speed needs to be improved you can start by minimising HTTP requests, improving server response times and reducing image sizes.

If you are currently publishing AMP versions of your content, the good news is that Google will continue to support it after the update launches. Google has confirmed that AMP continues to be one of the most simple and cost-effective ways to ensure an excellent page experience, so the search pages will continue to link to cached optimised AMP versions of pages.

You may have already noticed the rise in mobile visitors, with mobile devices generating more traffic last year than desktop devices for the first time ever. Google already uses the mobile version of your website in its rankings, so with the new update providing greater emphasis on this, you should ensure your website is mobile-friendly.

Until the update launches it is difficult to predict the scale of its impact, with some experts predicting the actual result page position changes to be relatively minor. However, the visual indicator tool could have a significant impact on website visitor numbers, so it is important to be aware of the changes.

Here at Health Hosts, we specialise in designing excellent websites whilst also offering a complete website support service. Whether you are looking for a new website or to tweak your current website with professional SEO ahead of the Google update, we can help. If you operate in the health industry and would like to discuss your requirements, please contact our team today.

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