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Google Page Experience Update — What Publishers Should Know

Google completed the rollout of its Page Experience update this week. Here’s what that means for digital publishers.

If you missed Google’s announcement that the rollout of Google Page Experience update was completed this week, you weren’t alone. The announcement went under the radar for many, particularly within the digital publishing community. However, as more information comes out and we begin to learn about what is involved in the Google Page Experience update, it’s becoming clear that publishers should be paying attention.

Google is notoriously tight-lipped about updates to its search algorithm, but the Page Experience update is different. The rollout of the Google Page Experience update began in June, and it was completed this past week. With this new 2021 Page Experience update, Google is being transparent about its ranking factors and offering useful tips that publishers can use to improve their search ranking.

The biggest change most digital publishers will notice as a result of the rollout has to do with ranking signals.

The new Page Experience rollout also includes updates to the Top Stories mobile carousel that many digital publishers are likely to notice, as well updates to the Google News app in the coming weeks and months.

Presently, Page Experience ranking factors are made up of four categories:

  • Core Web Vitals
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Non intrusive interstitials

The updates Google has made to Core Web Vitals over the past 12 months have largely made the metrics more fair and accurate. They have also led to improved website scores for the vast majority of digital publishers. Google’s Page Experience update uses Core Web Vitals as a ranking signal, however it is not the same thing as a Core Update. These are unrelated, even though the names can be confusing.

Intrusive interstitials fall into a different category, however we believe this is a topic that digital publishers need to understand. Google has decided that intrusive interstitials that prevent users from seeing certain content when they arrive on a website are considered “objectionable.” As a result, Google has noted that intrusive interstitials lead to poor user experience, and websites that use them should be downgraded in search results. If you currently have intrusive interstitials on your website, now is the time to talk to your web developer about what your options are.

Why Google’s Page Experience Update Matters

With its newest update, Google is indicating to publishers that relevance is extremely important and Page Experience factors merit attention when determining search ranking. The Page Experience factors outlined above (Core Web Vitals, HTTPS, mobile-friendliness, lack of intrusive interstitials) matter a great deal now when it comes to SEO.

While there was a time when Core Web Vitals were considered inconsequential to SEO, this Google Page Experience update changes that. Page Experience ranking factors like Core Web Vitals and HTTPS are more than just tie-breakers. They are significant ranking factors that publishers can’t afford to ignore.

Core Web Vitals still do not replace keyword relevance, but depending on how deeply you have invested in local search, you may notice Page Experience ranking factors playing an increasingly large role in SERPs.

As a best practice, digital publishers should be prudent in assigning resources to improving their Page Experience Signals. Making these adjustments will be key to continued success in search over the coming months.

For more information about the latest search strategies for online magazine publishers, read Advanced SEO Strategy for City and Regional Magazines.