In this week’s video, I share the important details about Google’s upcoming Page Experience update. Learn how the Core Web Vitals and other usability signals are being incorporated into the ranking algorithm, and what that means for your website.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Yesterday Google announced that the update has been delayed until June, but we already had this video shot, and it’s important info, so we’re sharing anyway…


Welcome back to another episode of Local Search Tuesdays. This week, I’m going to be talking about Google’s upcoming Page Experience update. It’s hitting next month, are you ready?

Google announced that the Page Experience update is coming in May 2021. Most business owners haven’t heard that it’s coming, or if they have, they don’t know what it means. Google rolls out thousands of updates a year, but it makes announcements about major ones when it’s likely that an update will affect a significant number of search results

This Page Experience update focuses on usability, not traditional ranking factors.

Google defined the “core web vitals” last year, but it was simply a suggestion for making your site more user friendly. Now they’re being added into the ranking algorithm, so it’s not an ask anymore, it’s a requirement. Here’s a graphic from Google that summarizes the update:

The core web vitals are highlighted in green, and include:
LCP, or “largest contentful paint”. This is how quickly your largest piece of content loads. For the home page of most sites, that would be your hero image, the big image at the top of your page.

FID, which is “first input delay”. This is how quickly the page responds to the first user interaction – so basically, if a user clicks a button or a link, how quickly does the site respond.

CLS, or “cumulative layout shift”. This is about visual stability. If the content visually moves or jumps around as the page loads, that’s bad.

The update also includes these others, which were already part of the algorithm, but are now being given more weight:
Mobile friendliness. Have you looked at your site on a mobile device? Is it easy to navigate? Check the size of your click areas – if you have to carefully tap to click the right link, that’s bad.

Safe browsing – clearly, you don’t want to land on a hacked site if you click a link in search results. Spammy content or malware on your site will cause a loss of visibility.

HTTPS – this one’s been around for quite a while, but you’d be surprised at how many sites still aren’t on HTTPS. If you’re one of those sites, you need to get secured ASAP if you want to continue to show up in search results.

Intrusive interstitials – more commonly known as “f’ing annoying popups”. If a popup happens automatically and covers site content, that’s bad for user experience. You don’t have to worry about popups that happen when someone clicks on something, or behavioral targeting that causes a popup when someone has exit intent. The popups that are going to cause loss of visibility are the ones that happen automatically, as soon as you land on a page. Get rid of them, they’re bad for user experience and they’re now going to be bad for SEO.

Remember – the algorithm considers hundreds of signals, so don’t lose sight of the basics because this update is coming.
And I want to finish with an important note…

If you’re testing your Core Web Vitals with a tool, remember that any tool you use is generic – it’s not specific to your vertical. For example, car dealers have unique needs that attorneys or dry cleaners don’t have to worry about. It’s perfectly fine for a car dealer’s website to take longer than a dry cleaner’s site to load.

Don’t freak out if one of these tools gives you a bad grade – the tools are a high level guide. For better insight, run the tools on your local competitors as well. You may have a bad grade when it comes to load speed, or First Contentful Paint, but if you’re in the same basic range as your competitors, it likely won’t matter.

But, if you check your competitors and you’re significantly slower than most of them, that’s a problem. Or on the flip side, if you’re significantly faster than most of your competitors, you’ll probably get a bit of a benefit from this update.

So now you know what’s going on with the Page Experience update that’s coming next month. Check your site and make sure you’re ready, and if you’ve got a digital marketing partner, talk to them about potential implications of the update.

That’s all the time we’ve got left for today, so you know what that means.
Put your hand on the screen right here:
We totally just high-fived ‘cause you learned something awesome.
Thanks for watching, and we’ll see you again next week for another episode of Local Search Tuesdays.