This webinar was the second in a two-part series explaining the Google Page Experience Update – scheduled to rollout from Summer 2021.

Check out the first webinar in the series: Core Web Vitals – What You Need to Know Before Summer 2021

Three things about your website that Google REALLY cares about – and why you should too

Video Recap

What is Page Experience?

Page Experience, as defined by Google, is measured by seven different metrics.

 

The first three, the Core Web Vitals, are:

  1. Page Loading
  2. Page Interactivity
  3. Visual Stability

If you want more information on what those are and how to optimise your site for them (and you really, really, should) check out our recap here.

 

The remaining four benchmarks are:

  1. Mobile Friendliness
  2. Safe Browsing
  3. HTTPS
  4. Intrusive Interstitials

 

Number six is a binary one – you either have an SSL certificate or you don’t. Pro-tip: you should. Your hosting provider should be able to offer SSL certificates as part of their service. (Find out more about SSL certificates in this HubSpot article.)

 

We focused on the remaining three elements for this webinar: mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, and intrusive interstitials.

 

Mobile-friendliness

Google run a series of tests on each web page to determine how well your website works on a mobile device. There are all sorts of different things that get weighed up here, from how the page loads, to how easy the text is to read, even to how easy it is to press the buttons!

 

Safe Browsing

Google want all users of your website to be safe and secure in what they do and how they interact with your site. This ranges from making sure there isn’t any malware on your page, to enforcing what kind of data you’re reasonably asking for. It also includes advertising.

 

Intrusive Interstitials

Google want to make sure that users aren’t going to be treated to any unexpected sudden changes to content and layout in a webpage, especially where there is expected to be user input. This includes things like email subscription pop-ups and animation/effects that impact the layout of the page.

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Why does it matter?

The user experience of a website matters just as much as the content.

Google has the data on this, and they want to start prioritising websites that deliver an amazing experience for visitors rather than simply playing the content marketing/ SEO game.

This is especially true on mobile devices, which account for around 55% or 22,000 Google searches PER SECOND worldwide.

In the same way that early days Google began penalising websites that were trading links and keyword stuffing on their pages, modern-day Google has caught on to tactics that were artificially inflating search results without delivering a quality experience to users – and it’s sounding the death knell for those who aren’t willing to adapt.

Note: Content marketing/ SEO is far from dead – don’t panic! – but from summer onwards the Page Experience factors will play a significant role in rankings and can no longer simply be ignored.

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How can I check my site performance?

Get your website set up on  Google Search Console if you haven’t already.

There’s a section within the menu bar entitled Page Experience which gives a detailed breakdown on what each of the metrics score for your site, as well as listing any offending pages.

Bear in mind that – as with the Core Web Vitals tests – if your site doesn’t have a large enough volume of traffic Google won’t show you this data.

If you do have low traffic to your site* then you can test on a page-by-page basis using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Tester.

 

*Gentle reminder: this is completely normal if you’re just starting out with site optimisation/ marketing or are a local/ niche business. Benchmark against yourself, not others.

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What quick wins can I make?

 

Winning at Mobile Friendliness

 

If your Google Search Console/ Mobile-Friendly Test reports say:

  • Your site uses incompatible plugins – you need to update these to something more up to date. The likely culprit here is Flash, which used to be very common in older websites. Ask your web team to update Flash to more modern technologies, such as HTML5.
  • Viewport is not set to “device-width” – your website is not communicating to the browser what size should be displayed. Add the following meta tag to your page inside the <head> tags.

    <meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1″>

     

    This tells the browser to display the site at the width of the device, starting at 100% zoom. Ask your web team to ensure your site is built with properly responding media queries.

  • Content is wider than screen – your users need to scroll horizontally to view content. We probably don’t need to tell you how irritating that is from a user experience perspective… Make sure you:
    • Size your images and video appropriately, so they’re not wider than the device screen, and that they scale down for smaller devices like mobile
    • Force text to wrap onto new lines rather than extending into whitespace at the side of your screen. You may need to ask your web team to make CSS changes to your site to enable this!
    • Ask your web team to set max-width styles on all media so you don’t have to worry for each individual image or video
  • Text is too small to read – make it bigger! Font size should be 14 pixels minimum according to Google, but in our experience 16 pixels is optimal.
  • Clickable elements are too close together – your links and buttons are difficult to click on a mobile device because there’s not enough space between them. Common offenders here are social sharing buttons or menu navigation items. Make sure you:
    • Set buttons to a minimum of 48 pixels square (Google’s benchmark)
    • Allow a minimum of 16 pixels between each button
    • Ask your web team to set these widths and heights by default for consistency across pages and if multiple content managers manage the site.

 

Winning at Safe Browsing

 

This one is critical it’s a manual process that can take weeks or months to get your site removed, because if you end up flagged on Google’s unsafe browsing list.

 

If your website is flagged as containing:

  • Malware – it’s likely one of the plugins or some embedded content that you use has been hijacked. To prevent this, make sure you:
    • Routinely update external plugins and your website to the latest version, as these will contain critical security patches that keep them as secure as possible
    • Secure your web forms so they can’t be compromised
    • NEVER use premium plugins or themes that have been modified to remove the need for a licence key. Ethics aside, it’s a false economy as you could be introducing malicious code into your site and the impact to your business and cost to rectify will likely outweigh the saving of not paying for the licence in the first place.
  • Deceptive Content – Google likely thinks you aren’t being transparent enough with the way you’re presenting your services or managing user data. Make sure you:
    • Display your content in a way that clarifies who you are and what you do, rather than obscures it
    • Discloses any relationships with Third Parties (especially if you are collecting data on their behalf)
    • Keep an eye on any ads that run on your website – especially if they are through a Third Party platform. They should never look like warning messages or lead to sites that are misleading, or they could be flagged as phishing.

 

Winning at Intrusive Interstitials

Know what classes as intrusive

The best way to win at Intrusive Interstitials is to get really familiar with the Google guidelines. It’s all to do with accessibility:

 

A good rule of thumb here, as with many aspects of web design, is that if it would irritate you on someone else’s website, it will probably irritate your website visitors too.


Sometimes best practice is also common sense. 

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Any questions?

As with all our webinars, we hope this has given you a few good actionable tips to get started.

If there’s anything that’s still unclear or you have any questions at all, book a call with Jon to discuss!

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