In a dramatic expansion of page experience guidelines, Google has announced that the page experience update will be released for both mobile and desktop versions.
At Google I/O, Jeffrey Jose announced that the Google page experience algorithm will be eventually applied to desktop pages as well as mobile.
In mid-June, the page experience update is expected to be released, but the expectation thus far has been that it would be only for mobile devices.
A full spectrum release is not yet available.
But Google does believe that page experience should be applied to all platforms.
Jose announced this:
He also had the following fascinating insights regarding page experience to add:
More About Page Experience
“Google Search has always considered user experience as part of ranking. you’d remember some of our past efforts from 2014, where we announced mobile friendliness as a ranking signal.
The same year, we also launched an effort to rank based on HTTPS to ensure web pages are delivered in a secure fashion to our users.
Let’s take a closer look into page experience. When we think about page experience, we think in terms of the four pillars of user experience.
They are loading, which signifies how fast or slow the resources of the page are downloaded and displayed on the user’s browser. User annoyance is an important pillar that quantifies some of the webpage behavior that might get in the way of a user accomplishing a task. Security and Privacy: a critical aspect of how safe, secure and privacy friendly a web page is. And accessibility.
The World Health Organization’s disability health factory finds that over a billion people, about 15% of the world’s population have some form of disability.
We as web developers have a huge responsibility to build in pages that are inclusive to all our users. These four pillars provide a structure for how to think about page experience for your pages.
We believe when pages perform well on these they provide exceptional value to the users which can drive long term relationships with your customers.
Let’s take a look at how these four pillars translate in practice for page experience. For loading, we use largest contentful paint and first input delay. The largest contentful paint, or LCP for short, is a metric that reports the render time of the largest image or text block visible within the viewport, relative to when the page first started loading.
For the user annoyance pillar, we have cumulative layout shift – CLS. CLS measures the sum total of all the individual layout shift scores for every unexpected layout shift that occurs on the page. Layout shift occurs anytime a visible element changes its position from one rendered frame to the next.
“No abuse of interstitials” is an existing search ranking policy that is an associated signal that we’ve long used on search that detects the presence and use of interstitials that are hostile to users.
We’ve noticed that such interstitials are often used to trick users into doing something that they do not want to, such as preventing them from reading or interacting with the page that they landed on from Google search.
There are a lot of great uses for interstitials such as the ones required by law: GDPR consent is an example, or an interstitial that shows updated business hours during the coronavirus pandemic. Those are not affected by the signal.For security and privacy, we want to ensure that the sites are delivered using the HTTPS protocol. Users should be able to confidently browse the internet without having to worry about man in the middle attack or improper impersonations.
Safe Browsing systems at Google brings together decades worth of experience in identifying and mitigating web based threats, such as malware, unwanted software downloads, or social engineering.
Similar to some of the other signals, we’ve long been using Safe Browsing on search to warn users when we detect that they might be clicking on a potentially harmful site.
Every user deserves to have a safe and secure browsing experience. And these two signals work together to ensure that sites are good citizens on the internet.
The mobile friendly signal covers the accessibility pillar, which measures how effective the pages are on small screens, often used by mobile phones.
The first three metrics largest contentful paint, first input delay, and cumulative layout shift are the core web vitals
Instead of metrics that apply to all the web pages and should be measured by all site owners, and will be surfaced across all the Google tools. Each of the core web vitals represents a distinct facet of user experience and is measurable in the field and reflects the real world experience of a critical user centric outcome.
To learn more about core web vitals check out the talk from the Chrome team titled what’s new in web vitals at IO 2021.
Core web vitals are not just a set of metrics, but also a robust set of threshold guidance that map to user expectations.
The Chrome team has done extensive research and come up with the guidance for what it means to be performing good, poor, or somewhere in between.
For instance, LCP, where we measure the loading performance of the page, values less than two and a half seconds means the page is delivering a good user experience.
Pages that take more than four seconds are deemed poor. Similarly, for first input delay, 100 milliseconds is the maximum delay users have to encounter during the initial input and its response.
Anything greater than 300 milliseconds starts to feel like the page is frozen and leads to bad user experience. Cumulative layout shift is a unitless metric 0.1 score below is good, while 0.25 or greater is deemed poor.
A quick aside: when the Chrome team first introduced cumulative layout shift the metric accounted for the entire lifecycle of the page.
Recently, the team has updated the definition to be more accurate by capping the maximum duration of the window at five seconds.
When Google Search launches page experience ranking, we will be using this updated definition of the cumulative layout shift.
As previously announced, when we launch page experience ranking, we also plan to update the top stories feature on Google search.
The changes include broadening the eligibility requirement to all qualifying web pages, irrespective of their core web vitals score or page experience status, provided they satisfy the Google News content policies.
We plan to use the page experience ranking to ensure high quality news articles are surfaced for our users on mobile.
Speaking of devices, today, I am happy to announce that we are bringing page experience ranking to desktop. While we are launching page experience on mobile soon, we believe page experience is critical no matter the surface, the user is browsing the web.
This is why we are working hard and bringing great experience ranking to desktop. As always, we’ll be providing updated guidance, documentation and tools along the way to help you make your pages perform at its best.
Stay tuned for more details on this. One other way you can get more pages to perform for your users is taking advantage of prefetching on Google Search via the use of signed exchanges. Earlier this year, we announced that Google search will prefetch websites built using signed exchanges.
Pages are prefetched and stored on the user’s browser ready to be loaded when the user clicks on the result, leading to near-instant loading. This is possible through the use of Google’s fast cache service distributed around the world that you can now take advantage of without any additional cost.
Nikkei, a large Japanese publisher, saw tremendous improvements in both performance numbers and business metrics using signed exchanges prefetching. In their tests, LCP improved by 300 milliseconds about 20% and this was before the team did micro optimizations. In other words, 20% was the lowest hanging fruit.
As a result of fast loading, they saw 12% more user engagement. Congratulations to the team for such an amazing accomplishment. If you’re raring to get going, search console’s page experience report is an excellent place for all of you to get started.
The page experience report offers valuable metrics such as percentage of URLs, which good paid experience and their search impressions over time, allowing site owners to quickly evaluate their performance.
Site owners can dig into the components of page experience signal to gain additional insights on opportunities for improvement.
The search performance report has also been updated to allow for filtering pages with good page experience, which helps site owners keep track of how these pages compare to others on the same site.”
Page Experience: What You Need to Know
The page experience update has been pushed back to mid-June, and is set to be released in the mobile-first index at that time.
A desktop version of the page experience update is likely to follow shortly thereafter.
We don’t have a specific timeframe to reference for these release dates, but you can rest assured that as soon as we know, you will too.
We will continue to keep you updated every step of the way.