How to get ready for Google’s Page Experience update

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Google has decided to be kind to us for once. Due to the Covid-19 crisis, they have given us a heads up that they will be introducing a Page Experience update to their algorithm in 2021.

Of course, they haven’t confirmed the date as of yet, but it is likely to be early in the year.

This means you have got plenty of time to get your website ready for the Page Experience update.

What is the Google Page Experience update?

We have all found ourselves getting frustrated when trying to use a website – annoying pop-up ads, slow loading time or designed for desktop alone, rather than being responsive.

All of these are problems which are likely to turn users off.

The Page Experience website will rank your website based on how users interact with a webpage. This means that Google may penalise your website if it thinks that users have a poor experience on your pages.

Of course, we have known for a while that user experience is an important factor in increasing conversions and decreasing bounce rate.

And some factors like page speed and mobile optimisation were already included in Google’s ranking factors.

But Google will be refining these factors and placing more emphasis on the importance of user experience.

How can I find out what needs to be improved?

Compare your website to your competitors

Do not underestimate the importance of competitor research.

Have a look on your competitors’ websites. Examine what they are doing differently to you and whether there is anything you could implement on your own website – but better!

Analyse your website using heatmaps

A good way to get a feel for how your customers use your site is to use heatmapping software to see what users are clicking on and where the busiest areas of your page are.

This will give you some valuable insights to seeing where you need to improve.

User testing

User testing is a technique often used to optimise user experience.

These tests are usually done under laboratory conditions with a panel of users who have not used your website before, in order to get valuable insights.

If you cannot afford professional user testing, why not ask some family and friends for a favour? Get them to run through your website and ask them questions while they are doing it to help inform your design decisions.

How do I get my website ready for Google’s update?

Google has published a detailed document on page experience which is aimed at developers but we have put together a list of the most important things to fix or update on your site, ready for the algorithm update:

SSL and https

Having a secure site will keep hackers at bay and protect your customers’ sensitive personal information.

When your website is secure it will result in a better experience for users and your search rankings are likely to improve.

You should therefore get an SSL certificate and migrate to https. Both of these will encrypt your website whilst keeping threats out and improving your rankings.

SSL certificates are sometimes available free of charge through your hosting company.

Mobile optimisation

Mobile users now account for just over half of all web traffic worldwide and according to a recent report from Hitwise almost 60% of all online searches are done using a mobile device.

So there’s a big slice of the pie to go after here. You therefore need to ensure that all of your page elements display correctly and work as they should for mobile users.

Ideally, you should design your website “mobile first”, by starting with the design to fit the screen of a mobile phone and all the restrictions this entails before expanding its features for a tablet or desktop version.

Google now indexes its results mobile first and so your website will be ranked based on its mobile version. Find out more about Google’s mobile first indexing here.

Review your ads

If you are running adverts on your website, how do they interact with the rest of your site’s content? Are they difficult to exit? Do they pop up and get in the way of more valuable content?

Annoying adverts can soon turn users off, make content difficult to read, features difficult to use and increase your bounce rate.

So be sure that any ads you have running do not distract from the main purpose of your page.

Improve page load time

If your website is slow to load, your users may get bored and bounce before they even get to your content.

Page load speed also directly affects your ranking as, if your website is slow to load, Google may not be able to crawl as many pages.

First thing’s first, you need to check your page load time using Google Search Console’s speed report, this will identify any potential issues.

Some things you can do to increase page load speed include:

Compress your images

This can be done with free photo editing programmes like Affinity Photo or Gimp or online using sites like TinyPNG. Be sure to strike the right balance between quality and file size.

Minify CSS, JavaScript and HTML files

Clean up your website code and remove any unnecessary coding. There are plugins and resources which can do this for you.

Enable browser caching

When someone visits your website, some elements of the page can be stored on their browser, allowing them to access it more quickly next time. You can ask your developer to add some code to do this or use a plugin.

Ensure your host and server has a great response time

Make sure that your host and server can meet the needs of your business and provide fast results for your customers.

User experience will determine future Google ranking

User experience is just going to become more and more important in terms of Google rankings over time, so take the time now to make the improvements that you need to ensure that the Google Page Experience update doesn’t leave your website out in the cold.

And don’t hesitate to get in touch with The Content Marketing Team if you need advice or assistance with any aspect of improving your user experience.

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