Established SEO trends for 2022 imply that strengthening your Page Experience ranking signals is of the utmost importance, and so is staying up to date with the industry changes. Google recently instated a new update, outlined below are the ways it will have a direct impact on your site. 

Google’s Desktop Page Experience Update

Google’s latest page experience update specifically targets desktop search results. Google rolled out a similar update for mobile last year—and now, as of March 3rd, 2022, the desktop update has been completed following a nine-day rollout.

The update takes into account a website’s Page Experience scores as part of the ranking process. Therefore, If you notice a decrease in your rankings around the time of the rollout, it’s possible that your Page Experience metrics could be the cause. 

Assessing Your Page Experience Scores

Google makes it easy to monitor your Page Experience scores right from Search Console. 

Utilizing the Page Experience tab within Search Console allows users to monitor both mobile and desktop devices. Running an analysis within the desktop section will provide a snapshot of some of the key ranking factors related to Page Experience.

Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals are metrics that Google identifies as specifically important to the user experience for all web pages. Each metric targets one major, measurable facet of user experience.

It is important to note that Core Web Vitals are dynamic—Google states that they will evolve. 

Currently, Core Web Vitals include Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), and First Input Delay (FID). These are all considered factors in Google’s ranking process. Pages that are flagged in one or more of these areas will be negatively impacted. 

A Core Web Vitals report exhibiting low-performance metrics (represented by red or yellow indicators) serves as an indication that your site’s rankings may have been affected by the recent update. Clicking through the report, specifically through the “Poor” and “Needs Improvement” sections, will help highlight URLs that could stand to benefit from Page Experience improvements. 

Additionally, other tools—such as PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix—may also be used to analyze Core Web Vitals. These tools provide additional insights into your scores and can be customized to run for specific device types, locations, and more.

HTTPS

Hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS) provides additional security compared to HTTP. HTTPS is encrypted, making it far more difficult for data to be intercepted. 

HTTPS is the standard protocol for websites, and Google is recognizing this additional security as beneficial to the user experience. Therefore, if your site is still using HTTP, you may experience a hit to your rankings, as Google will prioritize secure sites when ranking pages.

Intrusive Interstitials

Intrusive interstitials are pop-ups that interfere with a user’s ability to access a page’s content. Generally, Google views an interstitial as “intrusive” if it appears after clicking on a Google search result and covers most of the content on the page. This doesn’t include necessary disclaimers, such as cookie policy information or age validation.

While the issue of intrusive interstitials is more applicable to mobile sites given the smaller screen size, desktop sites that utilize these pop-ups may also be negatively affected following the latest Page Experience update.

Next Steps

It is important to understand that Page Experience is only one piece of Google’s criteria for ranking a page. Providing users with excellent content that meets their needs should still be priority number one. 

However, it is important to verify the health of your Core Web Vitals and other Page Experience ranking factors, especially if you saw your rankings decrease following Google’s update. Here are a few steps to get started:

Verify your site is secure

A secure URL always begins with “HTTPS” at the start instead of “HTTP.” If your site is not already verified with HTTPS, Google provides resources for obtaining the necessary security certificate for your site to enable HTTPS, as well as information about migrating from HTTP to HTTPS.

Ditch the intrusive ads

While pop-ups can be an effective tool, they should not interfere with the user experience. It is recommended to get rid of any unnecessary interstitials that fit Google’s description of intrusive. If you cannot justify removing them completely, make the necessary adjustments to ensure the user experience is minimally affected.

Monitor your Core Web Vitals

Keeping a close eye on your Core Web Vitals can help you quickly identify areas of need for your site. These can be easily accessed from Search Console or other above-mentioned tools. Search Console also provides a Page Experience report specifically geared toward your desktop scores, making it a great place to start following the update.

While monitoring Core Web Vitals is important, it is equally important to understand that an improvement of your Core Web Vitals score does not guarantee a win, and direct ranking improvements may not be seen from increasing your scores. However, improving your Page Experience will make for a more user-friendly site which, in the long run, could result in higher rankings and more traffic.

How Direct Agents Can Help

Following the steps above can help you improve your Page Experience scores, but you do not have to approach it alone! 

Direct Agents has a wide range of experience auditing and improving Page Experience metrics. If you are looking for help improving your Page Experience or boosting your overall organic search rankings, reach out to marketing@directagents to partner with us.

Austin Korff, SEO Coordinator