WWW… Wednesday! Page Experience: Why It Matters for SEO
by Taylor Slattery | October 28, 2020
SEO is an incredibly deep topic, and for those who are new to it, it can be quite intimidating. Without a working knowledge of the terminology or any experience in web design, it’s hard to make heads or tails of how our decisions will impact our site’s ranking. It’s not uncommon for businesses to seek outside help from those who specialize in SEO in order to improve their ranking.
SEO is important for anyone managing a site, not just those who have the budget to prioritize it. Whether you use your site to sell products, services, or simply as a portfolio, search engine ranking is something anyone with an online presence needs to be mindful of.
There are a number of different factors that directly contribute to a site’s search ranking. A relatively recent addition to the mix, Page Experience, is a metric predicated on exactly that, users perceived experience with a site. But what exactly does that mean and how can experience be quantified?
Google’s official documentation defines Page Experience as “a set of signals that measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its pure information value.”
In this context, information refers to the content of the site rather than its metadata which search engines use to better understand its purpose. Which goes to say, if two pages were to contain the same set of information, but one provided a better Page Experience, it would rank higher in search results.
So say, for example, the same information was to exist on two pages, but one featured a layout and design we find preferable, then surely the Page Experience for this page would be better, right? Not exactly. Page Experience still requires measurable information to determine ranking, but fortunately, the list of factors it considers is actually pretty short and intuitive.
At the top of this list is Core Web Vitals. This is an umbrella term that encompasses Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, and Cumulative Layout Shift. In layman’s terms, your site should load quickly, buttons and input fields should quickly respond, and the layout should be stable to avoid confusing users between screens.
In addition to these metrics, sites that are mobile-friendly, safe-browsing, served over HTTPS, and don’t employ interstitials, like those popups that ask you to join a mailing list, are also important factors in a site’s overall Page Experience. It’s a pretty pared-down, common sense list of factors that encourages sites to improve for the sake of improvement rather than try to game their way to the top with false traffic, empty backlinks, and spam. If you’re just getting started on your SEO journey, focusing on Page Experience would be a good place to start. For a list of tests you can use to improve your Page Experience as well as more documentation, you can learn more here.
Taylor is the Managing Editor of Notes on Design. Taylor is a graphic designer, illustrator, and Design Lead at Weirdsleep.