The new page experience changes were first announced earlier this year by Google. A date has now been set for when this will take effect, with page experience signals included in Google Search ranking.
The new page experience signals combine Core Web Vitals with existing UX-related signals including mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS-security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines.
Image Source: Google
Visual indicators in search results
In its blog post Google also said it was working on a way to highlight pages in the search results which have great user experience. Tests are planned for a visual indicator that “identifies pages that have met all of the page experience criteria.”
This will also launch in May 2021 if testing proves successful. Google will share details of progress in the coming months.
The change for non-AMP content to become eligible to appear in the mobile Top Stories feature in Search will also be rolled out in May 2021. Google will continue to support AMP which it describes as “one of the easiest and cost-effective ways for publishers looking to achieve great page experience outcomes”.
If you publish an AMP version of your content, Google Search will link to that cache-optimized AMP version, just as is the case today.
How should you prepare?
Site owners now have 6 months to make sure their websites are up to scratch, and Google has many tools and guides to help.
In its blog post Google recommends starting with a site-wide audit to identify where performance improvements are needed. The Search Console report for Core Web Vitals will give you both an overview and details of issues that need attention. Use the Page Speed Insights and Lighthouse tools to help you in fixing any issues.
Google has a roundup of tools to help with Core Web Vitals at https://web.dev/vitals-tools/
With the upcoming changes, it’s important to check your site performance, and informative also to see how it measures up compared to other sites. The fact that Google is planning to highlight sites in the results which provide a great user experience is an added incentive.
It’s a task we at Wordtracker undertook recently, with interesting results. See our blog post for more details.