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Page Experience Update as a threat to your ranking?

The summer of Google updates is not over yet with the Core Updates. As early as November last year, the technology company announced the introduction of the ranking factor Page Experience. The update of the same name will now be fully implemented by the end of August. This way, Google is declaring usability to be a relevant ranking factor. For many German companies, this has the potential to negatively influence their website ranking.

What is the Page Experience Update?
As always, not everything is disclosed, but what is clear is that the following aspects are included in the usability: HTTPS security, safe browsing, mobile-friendliness, and abandonment of intrusive interstitials (ads placed in front of the content page that is actually desired). In addition, there are three new metrics – the Core Web Vitals – all of which pay attention to the topic of speed. Specifically, these are the following metrics:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This metric measures how long the main content, i.e. the largest visible element of the website, has to load. Google prefers pages that have a loading speed of less than 2.5 seconds. A higher value is considered to be in need of improvement and anything above 4 seconds is simply too slow. Then the ranking is guaranteed to go down.
  • First Input Delay (FID): This criterion measures how long it takes for the website to respond after a user interaction. Specifically, it refers to actions such as typing, clicking, and pressing, whereas it does not include zooming or scrolling. For example, if a user clicks on a contact button, the website should respond quickly so that the user does not bounce. Google considers a response time of less than 0.1 seconds as good, up to 0.3 seconds to need improvement and anything above that as too slow.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This refers to the visual stability of the website. Because websites nowadays usually load individual parts of the content in the background to speed up the loading time, visual jumps can occur if the loading processes are not coordinated. For example, it can happen that the user is already reading the content and wants to click on a button, but its position shifts while loading – a rather annoying problem. Here Google recommends a value below 0.1, improvements are desired up to 0.25 and anything above that is considered poor.

However, this composition of the Core Web Vitals is not final and could still change in the future. Google wants to announce these changes early enough so that companies can prepare themselves sufficiently for further changes.

What impact will the update have?
It is clear that the Core Web Vitals will become more important, and some companies will noticeably drop in the ranking, but they will not be the only decisive metrics that determine the ranking in the future. However, there is certainly a need for action for German companies.

In a recent study by Searchmetrics of nearly 2 million websites ranking in the top 20 Google search results in Germany, America and the UK, more than 97% of German websites achieve poor Core Web Vitals scores in desktop search and more than 85% in mobile search.

According to Searchmetrics, German websites primarily fail to meet the requirements for visual stability and fast responsiveness. Too many pages react too slow to user interactions and feature too many sudden layout changes.

What to do?
First of all, it is important to get an overview of the existing performance of the website. Data on the Core Web Vitals is available for example in the Google Search Console. The Page Experience signals are overall evaluated and specific need for improvement is indicated. These insights can help inform decisions about different measures to improve the metrics.
For an optimization of the Web Core Vitals, a stronger exchange between the areas of marketing and web development is helpful since a poor user experience also leads to fewer conversions. In fact, 70% of customers abandon the buying process if it is not smooth but perceived as difficult, according to Google.

It is recommended to dedicate time to each metric of the Core Web Vitals. However, in view of the results of the Searchmetrics study, especially the CLS and FID metrics have a great potential for optimization. If this is too technical for you, you are strongly advised to work with agencies that specialize in this area. This is really money well-spent.

Nevertheless, despite all the speed requirements, relevant content remains the be-all and end-all. Google is primarily concerned with making high-quality content more effective through increased usability. Thus, the combination of both fundamental components will probably lead to a top-ranking position. We are keeping our fingers crossed for you and are continuously and diligently working ourselves to make all the great content on our available even faster.

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