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Google User Experience Update – May 2021

Google User Experience Update – May 2021

Essentially, if your site is already performing well in Google Search, BUT your site performance isn’t up to scratch, then you will be substantially downgraded and appear less frequently than before.

Google Changes – Site Speed matters

Google are launching their User Experience (AKA Core Web Vitals) update soon – whilst it’s a bit technical, you do need to be aware of it as its implementation is highly likely to have an impact on where you appear in Google organic search if you are not prepared.

Google are constantly reviewing how content is prioritized within its search engine results, always striving to improve on its mission :

“To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. That’s why Search makes it easy to discover a broad range of information from a wide variety of sources.”

Whilst precisely how they do this is a closely guarded secret, Google do release trade updates and have highlighted that whilst recent changes have been focused on prioritizing the most relevant content, the latest update focusses on the more technical aspects of the user experience, particularly site speed and stability.

What have Google changed?

Google already has over 200 elements to their algorithm which determines what content gets shown to whom and when. Google’s latest focus is on rewarding the more technical aspects of the online customer experience, and they are therefore adding 3 new measures to its search experience algorithm.

  • The 3 new measures focus on “Core Web Vitals” – load times & load sequence of your content on the pages of your site, responsiveness to activity whilst on the site and on reducing visual distractions such as flickering or pop-ups which obscure key content.
  • These are in addition to the 4 existing search signals for page experience – mobile friendliness, pages not containing malicious or deceptive content, pages being served securely (HTTPS) and no “intrusive interstitials”, which means use of pop-ups and displays which obscure the main content intrusively either temporarily or by design.

The Core Web Vitals update is currently scheduled for May/June 2021

What measures are Google using to apply this change?

Google is using “Largest Contentful Paint” (LCP), “First Input Delay” (FID) and “Cumulative Layout Shift” (CLS) as the measures.

  • LCP measures page loading performance. To provide a good user experience all the key elements of your page should load within 2.5 seconds to provide a good experience.
  • FID measures interactivity – the time between when a user interacts on a page (e.g. clicks a button) to the time when the browser kicks off the processing of that interaction. Generally your score will be adversely affected by poor coding – your interactivity should be under 100 milliseconds to get a good score.
  • CLS measures visual stability – the number of unexpected layout shifts occurring on a page. This could be things like a flickering icon, a page loading in an asynchronous order or a 3rd party widget that auto-resizes after it’s been loaded. The measure is the “layout shift score” and is calculated based on the impact of the unexpected move and the distance of the move. A good user experience is considered as less than 0.1.

It’s important to note that when Google introduce new ranking factors, they are given a high priority to “give them teeth”. They do, however say that great content will continue to top trump every other factor.


How might this affect your business?

Core web vitals scores are now a ranking factor and can affect your visibility in Google Search. Failing to respond to scores which are not “good” will lead to your content featuring lower down in Google searches, which will worsen as your competitors address their own scores.

Google are addressing the feedback they have received in that these factors can enhance or degrade a customer experience. As your competitors get faster load times and easier to read content, customer expectations will increase and failure to address low scores will result in increased bounce rates, lower time on page and decreasing engagement / site goals achieved.

What can you do about it?

  1. Baseline – Find out your existing scores – your Tech team or your Digital Marketing Agency can find these out for you using industry standard tools. This is all about speed so it’s something you can usually address quickly.
  2. Analyse Risk – Consider how frequently you add content to your site, the size of images you load and how frequently you use tactics like moveable objects or pop-ups.
  3. Take Action – These are new changes imposed by Google, so addressing them will be in addition to any SEO work you have underway. Talk to your Tech team or your Digital Marketing Advisor about identifying the best options to optimize your site so that your Google ranking is protected or enhanced when these changes are applied.

Want to know more?

All the detail you need, including links to Developer information can be found HERE

If you want help or advice in relation to these changes, speak with your Digital Marketing Agency, or CONTACT US

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