The Latest From Google on Improving Your Website’s User Experience

A team creates a user friendly design

If you’re anything like us, you frequent the web a lot. So that means you understand how a website’s user experience can impact your impression of a company or brand; a good site experience can leave you with positive feelings about a company while a bad website can lead you to dislike or distrust it. Not only does a user’s experience on a website impact their personal feelings towards a brand, but it can also affect a website’s ranking in search results.

Previously, Google User Experience Guidelines included factors like page speed and mobile-friendliness as measures of a site’s user experience. Google recently added on to this list by announcing a set of metrics to help measure a website’s user experience, called Core Web Vitals in early May.

With a little help from the Google WebMasters, we’re taking a preliminary look at how these page experience metrics will affect rankings for Google search results and how you can use Google’s latest to improve the user experience on your website. Don’t worry, Google won’t be implementing the changes we discuss until sometime next year, so you have plenty of time to prepare.

What is User Experience Anyway?

User experience, or UX, is the aspect of a website’s design and functionality that considers every interaction a user has with a page. A website’s UX should aim to create relevant and pleasant experiences that make it easy for someone to find the information they’re looking for. The more delightful your site experience is, the better. In an effort to provide a set of metrics that allow site owners to measure and gauge the caliber of the user experience on their website, Google announced the new 2020 Core Web Vitals.

Understanding Google’s Core Web Vitals and What They Mean For Your Rankings

While Google emphasizes that measuring the quality of user experience is multi-faceted, they have identified a common set of signals called Core Web Vitals aimed to improve user experience after customers land on a page. Core Web Vitals measure how usable a site is for a user, how long it takes for a site to load and the ease of interacting with elements on the page.

  1. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures the perceived load time of a page and marks when the page’s main content or largest element has loaded. Websites should aim to have the Largest Contentful Paint take place within the first 2.5 seconds of a page beginning to load.
  2. First Input Delay (FID) measures the time between the first interaction a user has with your site and the time it takes for the browser to respond. A positive FID should occur in less than 100 milliseconds.
  3. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLD) measures the sum of all unexpected page content movement, called layout shifts, and assesses how often they are happening on the page. Google recommends aiming for a CLS score of less than 0.1. 

How Do I Check The Experience of My Website?

Google notes that for businesses to fully understand how their site measures in terms of Core Web Vitals, some work will be necessary. They’ve updated commonly used developer tools such as Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights to now include Core Web Vital recommendations.

Google has emphasized that while all elements of the Core Web Vitals are imperative to the success of a site, the algorithm will still prioritize pages that host the most relevant information. In instances where pages have similar content, the best thing you can do to increase page visibility is to increase the page experience for your users.

In a perfect world, great content and site experience should go hand in hand, but Google will still highlight pages with the best overall information, even if some elements of page experience are not superior.

How Can I Improve My Site’s Experience?

Meaningful user experience can be accomplished by incorporating elements like whitespace, imagery, forms and product descriptions that define and elevate your brand throughout every touchpoint of your site. These elements come together to create unforgettable site experiences that lead to conversions and transactions.

A Brief Note on Top Stories

Currently, in Search, new and relevant content is displayed in the Top Stories feature on mobile, highlighting AMP results optimized for page experience. Google has announced that when the Core Web Vitals officially roll out, they will adjust eligibility criteria for Top Stories and that page experience will be a ranking factor. Pages without AMP will soon be able to be featured on Top Stories for mobile, though they will still need to meet Google’s News Content policies. No changes will occur for pages already published with any sort of AMP version.

What Can I Do For My Site Now to Prepare?

While no immediate action is needed just yet, it’s vital to always consider the site experience of your users. There are some steps you can take to start preparing for some of the Core Web Vital changes – site owners can begin auditing their sites for Core Vitals and making necessary improvements, like ensuring mobile-friendliness or improving page speed.

We don’t mean to toot our own horn, but we know a thing or two about creating positive page experiences for our clients. Interested in learning more about how we can work together to optimize your site’s user experience?