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Ranking factors are parameters that determine how Google's search results are created and displayed. In other words, they determine how website pages are ranked in a search by Google's algorithm.

 

Over the years, different algorithms have been developed in order to help rank quality content on top of Google SERPs. But, all of these algorithms have one thing in common: there's an important aspect they don't consider.

 

During the summer of 2021, a new ranking factor was launched, called Page Experience. In a nutshell, it inspects the user-friendliness of pages based on the quality of the page's UX.

 

We'll explain everything you need to know about this ranking factor, including how it works and how you can improve your user experience to rank higher in search.

 Speed Alone Isn't Enough

In the past, a lot of emphasis has been placed on speed in order to optimize a website's performance. Other factors, however, come into play, and they are more difficult to quantify. Even if a website is fast, does it perform well, according to the analytics?

 

Consumers don't have the patience to wait for pages to load, so ideally, they should load as quickly as possible, in three seconds or less. However, contemporary UX design techniques are making things more complicated.

 

JavaScript's growing popularity has resulted in larger and more complicated pages that are increasingly difficult to load. Even if someone has a high-speed internet connection and powerful hardware, loading a web page might still take a while.

 

Having to wait for a page to load can be a frustrating experience for users. And as if a slow website isn't already dreadful enough, bad UX design can contribute to the overall annoyance.

 

When users have trouble finding desired items or information, they will most probably just leave the page without searching forward.

 

This is where professional web design comes into play. Not only is a proper UX visually appealing, but it also keeps people on websites more engaged and relaxed.

 Core Web Vitals

Meet Core Web Vitals – the factors that Google considers most important when assigning a search engine ranking in mobile search.

 

Each Core Web Vital examines a different aspect of the page experience puzzle, and when combined, they help the search engine determine where to rank website pages.

 

Core Web Vitals are subject to change, and additional ones may be included in the future. For the first phase, Google focused on three distinct areas of interest:

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  • Interactivity
  • Visual stability

 

These three interest areas are associated with these completely new metrics:

  • Largest Contentful Paint/LCP: This metric shows how long it takes to load the biggest piece of content in the browsing area.
  • First Input Delay/FID: When a user initiates an interaction, the FID measures how long it takes for the browser to reply (clicking on a drop-down menu, for example).
  • Cumulative Layout Shift/CLS:  This metric evaluates how much of the screen is impacted by movement. When a page is completely loaded, are all of the elements in the same position as they were before?

 

The Core Web Vitals report grades pages as either "Good," "Needs Improvement," or "Poor" based on their quality. Only pages with ratings of "Good" are considered good overall.

 

Even though this new rating scheme only affects mobile search results, its effect on desktop users is still to come.

 

In the ranking process, mobile and desktop versions of each page will be given their own score based on how well the site performs on each device. For concerns with mobile-first indexing, you should always focus on the mobile version of the page first.

 

Thresholds of the three values that are important to know include:

  • CLS should be less than 0.1, where more than 0.25 is critical.
  • The LCP should be less than 2.5 seconds, where more than 4 seconds is attention-worthy.
  • The FID is less than 100 milliseconds at best, where 300 milliseconds or more is a reason for immediate action.

Clearly, these indicators aren't only about how quickly something loads. It's also important to consider how long it takes for items to be available for use.

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 Content is Still Very Relevant
It's possible to overestimate the significance of this specific upgrade. It is simply another method for the engine to gain a feel of how wonderful your site is. But, no matter how good the user experience is, if the content is poor, it will still be hard to rank.
While the quality of your content is still the most important factor in obtaining high rankings, the performance and the overall impression consumers get of your site have now been added as well.
A lot of information can be gleaned from these measurements, and Google has figured out a method to analyze your site from every viewpoint.
 Search Signals
Core Web Vitals are a new collection of metrics; however, the remaining variables of Page Experience have already been recorded and utilized for page rankings in previous searches. These indicators are termed Search Signals.
They consist of:
  • Mobile Usability, including three factors: Viewport Definition, Click Text Size, and Clickable Element Proximity.
  • Security Issues, flags: Hacked Content, Malware, and Social Engineering.
  • HTTPS Usage: to receive the "Good" page experience status, a page must be served via HTTPS.
Altogether, Core Web Vitals and Search Signals determine the overall score of the page.
The quality of your website's page experience is also closely linked to the success of your website's organic traffic. Those findings are analyzed in terms of session length, conversions, bounce rates, click-through rates, pages per session, and so on.
 Six Ways to Improve Page Experience
It is impossible to escape continual hits and decreasing ranks as a result of deficiencies measurable by search engine metrics capture. Luckily, there are ways to keep in touch with this update that will feed the algorithm in a healthy way to increase your conversion rates.
Responsiveness Optimization: Create your site with optimal display quality in mind for all networked device types. Images should appear and behave properly, fonts should be readable and embedded content should be responsive. As a cherry on top, HTML meta tags and media queries should be provided.

Compelling CTAs: 
What can beat a well-written and beautifully designed call-to-action? It encourages site visitors to take a step further toward conversion. The secret to a great CTA is fusing a strong visual with engaging text.

Unambiguous Headlines:
 HTML heading tags, from H1 to H6, are used to measure the level of the text relevance to the search criteria users give. So between choosing mysterious or vague headlines, try to stay as clear as possible with your message. Changing only one word in your H1 heading can attract better traffic to a website.
Strong HTTPS Security: Ensure the protection of your site visitors by using the most up-to-date security software and procedures. In addition to enhancing the entire online experience for your customers, this is crucial in safeguarding your brand reputation and avoiding other possible repercussions of security breaches.

Page Speed Acceleration: 
Your page quality and page speed may be evaluated using Google's Page Speed tool.
Using .png for vector images, for example, may improve your site's page experience. For returning users, employ browser caching to speed up the download of pictures and other big data-consuming items on your site by using content distribution network servers.
Minimize JavaScript, HTML, and CSS as well, if possible. The JavaScript minifier, for example, may be used to eliminate whitespace and unnecessary characters, as well as to merge files.

Removing 404 Error Code Pages: 
Search engines do not react in a website's favor if they contain 404 Error codes. In fact, it's a guaranteed way to get penalized. A tool called Google Search Console can help in locating 404 errors and removing them.
To remove the code debris, you must first identify the pages where the mistakes are occurring, then follow the instructions given to manually update the programming.
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 Takeaways
The inclusion of Page Experience as a ranking element hasn't made too much of a difference because plenty of other signals are already taken into consideration when Google builds its search results pages.
However, it is a fresh signal to website proprietors that excellent places in the search results pages are determined by speed, layout, and security. This is an opportunity for those who have previously ignored these principles to correct their mistakes.
Google's tools might be a good place to start. Site owners must always ask: How can I make my site the greatest possible environment for my users? With this new ranking factor, a better user experience will help increase your ranking in search.
In order to stay relevant in highly competitive marketplaces, businesses should stay in touch with the newest algorithm updates.
The Internet is an ever-changing place, and shying away from the adjustments needed won't result in positive ways.
Even if the consequences on other online vendors aren't as large, they still need to make the modifications to maintain their sites' and business' reputation.
Making the user's experience online more satisfying through good design creates a win-win situation for every company online. And if your website is properly optimized according to the latest algorithm updates – that's just icing on the cake!
Overall, engaging websites play a huge role in providing trust between the users and the company.
Staying current with the hottest design trends does play a big role, but keeping your business on top of SERP is also as important. One cannot exclude another, so keeping an eye on both aspects can only lead to success in the online world.

Author’s Bio
Christopher is a Digital Marketing specialist, Project Manager and Editor at Find Digital Agency and a passionate blogger. He is a devoted and experienced author who loves to pay attention to quality research and details. Focused on new digital trends and voice distribution across different channels, he starts the day scrolling digest on new digital trends while sipping a cup of coffee. In his free time Christopher plays drums and Magic: the Gathering.
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