Google has successfully added more layers to SEO and a few more hoops that SEO specialists need to consider when optimizing a webpage. Previously, Google has ranked search results based on relevant and up-to-date information that it deems useful for the user. SEOs have spent hours on creating high-quality content to hit the top of Google’s search results. To add to this, SEOs will now have to consider the user-experience when interacting with the webpage.

On the 28th May 2020, Google announced a new way that it will rank search results. In the announcement, Google validated this update by stating, “Through both internal studies and industry research, users show they prefer sites with a great page experience.”

But don’t panic, Google added that it understands that SEOs are currently trying to update webpages to remain relevant amid the COVID 19 pandemic. Therefore, Google will only roll this ranking change out next year and provide six months’ prior notice before initiating the change.

What is important to keep in mind?

When designing new webpages or optimizing old ones, SEOs must remember that Google based the ranking change on the users’ perception of the user-friendliness of a page. The user determines what they consider ‘better’ when interacting with a webpage. This becomes complicated when the aspects of the webpage that the users’ perceive to be better are not the aspects which make the page user-friendly.

For example, if one looks at the old layout of Wikipedia’s homepage, one can see there is an overload of information which is typically off-putting to the user but provides the user with faster and more direct access to information. The new Wikipedia homepage has less information and the users perceive it to be more user friendly when, in reality, it takes the user more clicks to access information.

The new ranking system will use data pulled from page experience metrics to determine the ranking. Core Web Vitals will give real-world metrics based on:

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)–which refers to the loading time of the page;

First Input Delay (FID)–which refers to the interactivity of the page;

Cumulative Layout Shift–which refers to the visual stability of the page.

The above list is not complete with all aspects that Google will take into consideration when determining the ranking of a page. These are the top three which Google has highlighted as the Core Web Vitals. Google will also consider mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS, and no intrusive Interstitials when ranking pages in the search results.

Although the roll-out of this Google ranking change will only take place next year, this is a significant opportunity for SEOs to become familiar with the aspects of a page that a user deems to be user friendly. SEOs can implement plans to accommodate for this change. Being ahead of the game in the SEO world is top-priority. It is never too early to improve.