On February 22, 2022, Google implemented a significant update that revolutionized the way websites are ranked on desktop devices. With this update, user experience became a crucial ranking factor, signaling a transformative step in the world of search engine optimization.
Before the update, traditional factors such as keywords, backlinks, and content quality held more weight in determining a website’s search ranking. However, Google recognized the importance of providing users with an optimal browsing experience, leading to the inclusion of page experience metrics as new ranking factors.
The update introduced a set of key metrics that Google considers while evaluating a website’s user experience:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): LCP measures the time taken for the largest element on a webpage to become visible to users. Faster loading times contribute to a better overall user experience, and websites that prioritize efficient rendering of content are rewarded with improved search rankings.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): CLS gauges the visual stability of a webpage during the loading process. A website that avoids unexpected shifts in elements, preventing content from jumping around, is favored by Google’s algorithm.
- First Input Delay (FID): FID evaluates the responsiveness of a webpage by measuring the time between a user’s first interaction (e.g., clicking a button) and the browser’s response. Websites that provide a smooth and swift interactive experience rank higher.
- HTTPS Security: Security is paramount on the internet, and Google now prioritizes websites that use HTTPS, which ensures encrypted and secure data transmission. This factor aims to protect users from potential cyber threats, establishing trust and credibility with search engines.
- Absence of Intrusive Interstitials: The update discourages websites from using intrusive interstitials and dialog boxes that obscure users’ view of content, especially when employed for advertising purposes. These disruptive elements hinder user engagement, and websites that offer a more seamless browsing experience are granted a competitive edge.
By integrating these metrics into their ranking algorithm, Google incentivizes website owners to prioritize user experience, ultimately benefiting the broader online community. Websites that adapt to these changes and cater to user needs will see an improvement in their search rankings, resulting in increased visibility, traffic, and overall success. According to Google websites shouldn’t have to expect drastic ranking changes.