With the past year’s turbulent nature, Google decided to give us a heads up on the algorithm update and what exactly it entails – allowing you to adjust your website and ensure that the traffic doesn’t bottom out when the update decides to grace us with its presence.
So, what does the Page Experience update entail and what steps should you take to prepare for it?
Google in their 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.
They want to see exactly how usable your website really is.
An example of what they don’t want is as follows:
If a user is trying to click on something and then a pop gets into the way of their click and they are off on a journey that they did not want to be on, to a page that they do not want to be on, it’s very irritating.
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User Experience, as you know, is at the centre of everything that Google does and this is just another step in the right direction, to ensure that the experiences user’s hate are not ranking at the top on Google.
To put this in very simple terms, this update is going to make sure that user-friendly sites rank higher than sites that are not user-friendly.
The SEO landscape that we know right now will look so different.
Why is this update so important?
Here’s what I mean…
When you want to buy sports shoes, does a certain brand come to mind?
If I had to guess, I bet you’ll say Adidas.
This doesn’t just go for sports shoes, if you were then paying for those shoes, its likely that you have a Visa, AMEX or Mastercard, right?
Brand queries matter (how many people search for your brand name on Google and click on your website) and they have an impact on rankings.
Your SEO traffic will grow as your brand does.
Google’s algorithm has had this factor considered for years now though, although it is still very much relevant, it is old news.
But most people don’t have a huge brand, so can they still rank?
At Gekkoshot, we look at all of our clients and how they grow over time. We have some very well known brands that see huge brand searches, but that is a small percentage generally speaking and all of our other clients are still seeing traffic growth.
Google is adapting its algorithm to achieve its mission of showing the sites first that users love the most.
So, if we leave brand queries at the side here and look to focusing on user experience as it is the ranking metric at the core here.
So how do you optimize your user experience?
It starts with each page
The term itself ‘page experience’ would lead you to believe that they are going to focus the algorithm at a page level, and while this doesn’t mean that the overall website experience shouldn’t be good, that will just be a focus, that every page has the same experience.
I think that the algorithm is going to focus on a page level basis rather than website overall, but the aim should still be to have as much of your site as possible with the best possible user experience.
It doesn’t mean that your whole website shouldn’t have a good user experience, but instead, I bet they are going to focus on their algorithm from a page-level basis.
If a few pages had a bad experience, it wouldn’t make any sense that Google would penalise the whole site, especially taking into consideration that the general majority of your pages provide a much superior experience than your competition do.
Step One: Optimize your speed and reduce 400 errors
The faster your website loads, the better experience you’ll have, there are a lot of tools that you can use to test the speed of your site.
What you are really looking for here is the user experience, checking there are no broken pages, images, links and that there are no broken pages.
All of these inevitably lead to a bad experience. What you are looking for here is to
The faster your site loads the better. What you should be aiming for is under 3 seconds for both desktop and mobile.
If you have videos and images, run them through compressors or install a plugin that reduces the file size, there are tutorials, or you can save all of the drama and let us take care of the complex side of web design.
Step Two: Compare your experience to your competitions
How do you compare to your competitors? That is always the question, you might be good, but how good are they…?
Get the metrics on your competitors and do a comparison looking at their ranking, what content they were ranking the best for and how much traffic they are getting.
What are they doing and how does the quality of their content compare to yours?
When you look into and evaluate your competitors, keep in mind how they are making the user happy, This will give you a good scope of what you have to do as well content wise.
Always Remember: Don’t match your competition, beat them.
Step Three: Analyse your design
What is the best way to analyse user experience? A really good way is through the use of heatmaps. Just like this one:
As always there are so many tools and plugins that you can gather together and come to a conclusion based on their results, the one that I personally use is Crazy Egg.
To get a good set of results with this you should track about 3 URLs
In this snapshot, you can clearly see where the clicks are taking place, they are one the pictures, but there is an issue…
Nothing happens when they are clicked and the issue here that arises is that people think that they should be able to click, which could cause unnecessary frustration.
Either make them clickable and direct them elsewhere to more information on the small blurb section, or put more information there so that people don’t feel the need to click on it anymore.
Crazy Egg is pretty cool, so I could make these changes and then run another snapshot and see if the changes had an impact on the user experience on the site.
Step Four: Install Chrome extension
Whether you go for the likes of Ubersuggest or keywords anywhere, they all do really accomplish the same end goal, but what I recommend is using multiple, never relying on one tool to draw all of your conclusions.
Once you have your extension installed you will have access to data like search volume, domain authority, Facebook shares and backlinks.
The two main pieces of information that are highlighted by the various tools are the domain authority and the links.
The higher the number, the more authority the site had and then the more links, generally speaking the higher it will rank.
When you are on the search for sites that have a good user experience, look for those that have a lower domain score and less backlinks, but still rank high.
Chances are high that they rank well for user experience. Is their text more appealing than the competition? A low bounce rate perhaps?
Look at these sites when you stumble across them and see exactly what they are doing, this is where the art of reverse engineering comes into play.
Above, in the image, it is apparent that AMA ranks higher than Hubspot yet the latter seem to beat them in every way. AMA are clearly doing something right, so if you were trying to rank for a certain keyword, you would look to them.
With the update rolling out in mid-June, page experience is only going to get more and more important.
If everyone loves a website, then Google will want to rank it highly, and the reverse, if everyone is of the thinking that a website has a terrible user experience, then Google won’t rank that website as high.
Google, as you are probably more than aware will not just stop at this, but they will make multiple revisions and adapt to ensure that their algorithm is more effective over time.
You have the best warning at the moment for the upcoming algorithm update, so take the opportunity to get any usability issues fixed that you might have.