In April 2020, Google announced Web Vitals — a new set of metrics designed to measure the speed and user experience of websites. Last week, Google announced that these metrics will make its way into a core algorithm update as new ways of judging and ranking sites based on the page experience they offer. This update is due to arrive some time in 2021.
Google is preparing to include a new ranking factor for website assessment in 2021. The search engine’s algorithm will receive a major update, in which the current and announced ranking factors will be supplemented with page experience.
Page experience as a new ranking factor
When evaluating the page experience (aka user experience on a page), Google will look at various elements. You can think of the loading time and responsiveness of a page. The stability of the content as the page loads will also be assessed. That may sound a bit abstract, but you have probably visited a website where the layout of the page unexpectedly “staggered” during loading. Things like this can negatively impact the page experience.
Get ready for the update
Google plans to implement the changes to the algorithm sometime in 2021. The search engine giant will in any case announce the final date of the update six months in advance.
This wil ensure that website owners have enough time to improve their page experience scores. To help them with this, Google has also updated the Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights tools. Google Search Console now also includes extensive reporting options.
Web developers who need more information can visit Chrome DevTools, web.dev’s measure tool and the Web Vitals Chrome extension.
- Lighthouse in DevTools is now at version 6.0
- PageSpeed Insights incorporates the new metrics
- New Chrome User Experience Report API lets you access up to 28 days of historical data for your URLs
- Experience section in DevTools Performance panel
- Search Console’s new Core Web Vitals report for a summary of how your site performs
- Web Vitals Chrome Extension for quick access to metrics from the browser
Although the introduction of page experience as a new ranking signal is quite a big change, many WordPress users will score reasonably well. Things like mobile friendliness, https, short loading times and other signals have been part of the best practices for WordPress websites for a long time.