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Get ready for the Google Page Experience update

Get ready for the Google Page Experience update

Website speed has been the hot topic in the web industry for the past year, ever since Google announced that a new set of page-quality factors named Page Experience will become ranking signals. Most importantly, this change will give a boost to faster web pages, making them appear higher in the Google search results, which leads to more organic traffic.

Google is measuring page speed with the Core Web Vitals, a set of 3 metrics that track real-user experience on your website. These metrics are used to evaluate content loading speed (how fast does a webpage display above-the-fold content), the responsiveness to user input, and how much the page layout changes and shifts while loading.

Google Page Experience signals
Google Page Experience signals

To get you informed and prepared for the new Google update, we’ve compiled a list of quick facts you should know:

  • Although originally announced for May 2021, this change will gradually roll out from June until the end of August 2021.
  • Only mobile search will be influenced by Page Experience signals.
  • The Core Web Vitals (CWV) speed metrics are collected by the Chrome User Experience Report – which is capturing your website performance only from users on the Chrome browser, and only if the user didn’t opt-out.
  •  Each web page is graded as “Poor”, “Needs Improvement” or “Good” – according to its Core Web Vitals scores.
    To get a “Good” grade, a page needs to perform better than the CWV thresholds for 75% of the time (visits or pageviews). Also, a page is graded by its worst-performing metric. If 2 CWV scores are “Good” but one is “Poor”, the webpage will be graded as “Poor”. See your Google Search Console to find out how many of your pages pass the Core Web Vitals assessment.
  • A single page needs to pass all of the Page Experience tests in order to get a passing grade and a ranking boost.
  • All of the Page Experience metrics, including CWV, are pass or fail, and passing scores are equalized.
    If two (same content quality) pages are both “Good” by CWV metrics, you won’t get any additional ranking advantage by making your page even faster than the competition. So, there’s no point in over-optimizing if you already achieved a passing score.
    However, if two (equal quality) pages both fail the CWV assessment, the faster one might get a ranking boost.
  • Speed signals will have the most impact on ranking in “tie-breaker” situations where multiple pages of very similar content and overall quality are competing for the same keyword. However, content quality will remain the most important ranking factor, so a slow page with the best content will still come up on top.
  • The Core Web Vitals data is aggregated by the past 28 days, so you might have to wait more than a month after your optimization efforts have been completed to see any improvements in the scores.
  • Google has stated multiple times that this update will not create a sudden jolt in the search results. The expected impact of this update will be small at first, and gradually more noticeable as the dust settles.
  • The Google Lighthouse Score (available through Page Speed Insights) isn’t used for search ranking and has no direct influence on your SEO success. Only the Core Web Vitals are considered.

To conclude, this Google update shouldn’t have a dramatic effect on anyone's website, at least not immediately.

We will closely monitor all of the sites that we manage, and as the update gradually rolls out, capture the changes in organic rankings. Then we'll correlate those changes with website speed performance and the Core Web Vitals.

It will be interesting to see how much, if at all, things start to shift in the various markets and verticals that we cover.

Read our full article on website speed that explains all the details and considerations of the new Google ranking factors, gives practical advice on using speed measurement tools, as well as the 4-step approach that we took to get ready for speed optimization at scale.