Will user experience become a Google ranking factor?

“Relevance is a search engine’s Holy Grail. People want results that are closely connected to their queries.” – Marc Ostrofsky

Back in May 2020, Google announced a new ranking algorithm – the Google Page Experience Update – designed to “judge” web pages based on the users’ experience with a page. This means that if Google considers your website users will have a poor experience on your pages, it may not rank those pages as high as they are currently. 

What is page experience? “A set of signals that measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its pure information value. It includes Core Web Vitals, a set of metrics that measure real-world user experience for loading performance, interactivity, and visual stability of the page. It also includes existing Search signals like mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS, and intrusive interstitial guidelines.”

Now, over a year after the initial announcement, Google is finally rolling out The Page Experience Update albeit slowly and lasting until the end of August 2021.

Did you notice the mention of Top Stories? Since Thursday, June 17, Google stopped using AMP and started using the page experience signals for eligibility into the Top Stories carousel and section.

Ranking changes? “While this update is designed to highlight pages that offer great user experiences, page experience remains one of many factors our systems take into account… Given this, sites generally should not expect drastic changes,” stated Google.

What does the rollout entail? 

  • the ranking change will begin gradually
  • AMP badge will start disappearing
  • potential page experience badge will continue to be tested (Google has not finalised plans for this badge)
  • Top Stories carousel on Google Search will be updated to include all news content
  • AMP will not be required for the Google News app nor news.google.com 

Final Thoughts

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Adi Angelova

Author Adi Angelova

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