Google releases hundreds of updates every year. Most of them come without much fanfare because they are minor updates. Moreover, Google only releases four to five major updates, known as the core updates, per year, and these are the ones that affect the SEO algorithm Google uses in a major way. They are usually implemented within a month or two of their announcement.

However, 2020 was different. The pandemic already resulted in a lot of loss, with websites everywhere having to deal with the fallout of traffic to their pages changing in a substantial manner. Many had to add or change many elements on their sites to accommodate the altered traffic patterns.

Google had already made two core updates in 2020 – one in January and the other in May. They announced another core update towards the end of May. However, Google assured website owners and managers that it would not implement this update in 2020. They would do so in 2021 to give people the time to cope with the pandemic while making the necessary changes to their sites.

This new update is known as the Page Experience update. It will focus on the loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability of a page. According to Google, “Page experience is a set of signals that measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its pure information value.” Thus, Google will start ranking websites based on the user experience they provide.

Google also released what they call the Core Web Vitals to measure page experience. These are a set of new metrics used to measure the various user experience components on a webpage. They will be discussed below in detail.

The update should not be a cause of concern for you. We at Simple Brackets will make all the necessary changes to all of our client’s websites so that they are all aligned with the page experience update due in May 2021.

What is Page Experience?

Page Experience consists of all the signals that indicate a user’s perception of how their experience using a website is, i.e., whether the site is user-friendly or not. For any page visitor, how easy and smooth it is to use the website is important besides the pure informational value it provides.

The Core Web Vitals is a measurement of this. It focuses on three primary aspects; page loading, interactivity, and visual stability. They are usually the most direct factors that influence the user experience in using or viewing a page.

When measuring the loading experience, Page Experience will look at the loading speed of the page. It will measure the time difference between the point when the user clicks on the link and the main content of the page that actually appears (and is ready to be used and consumed).

Interactivity is a measure of how promptly a page responds to an interaction by the user. It observes the time difference between the point when a user first clicked on a clickable element on the page to when it starts to show the intended effect.


Visual stability, as the name suggests, looks at the stability of the content of the page on the screen. It deals with the prevention of annoying pop-ups and unexpected movement of the content on the page.

Hence, your web page will need adjustments in a bid to integrate this new update Google will start using. This means you will have to shorten the loading speed of your pages, reduce the response time of interactive items, and improve the stability of your page on the interface.

The Obtrusiveness of User Interface

Google keeps reiterating that content is king. However, equally important is the visual and usability experience that visitors of a page go through.

Some of these stats will prove the point:

  • It only takes 1/20th of a minute to get your first impression of a website, and 94% of it is design-related.
  • 75% of users judge the credibility of a website based on website design and for 67% of users, a poor experience translates to a negative opinion about the brand.
  • An improved UX design could raise conversion rates by up to 400%.
  • Bad user experience can cause 70% of users to abandon their purchases.

Nonetheless, bad user experience can come across in many forms. Sometimes, a page loads so slowly that the user feels like they are wasting their time and move on to the next search result. Not just slow loading times but slow responses, i.e., a webpage that “hangs” too much is also a nuisance. You might think you clicked on one thing but the hanging resulted in the action being implemented in another part of the page.

And then come those pesky ads and pop-ups on certain sites. We often mean to click on something else but the sudden pop-up or banner gets clicked and we are redirected to an unwanted page.

Consistency of content across devices is also important. If the website is not responsive or elements load very differently on the smartphone screen versus the computer screen, it can be a nuisance to have to get used to them separately.

Core Web Vitals

When Google announced the upcoming Page Experience update, it also provided us with the necessary metrics to measure the quality of the user experience provided by a webpage. Since page experience by itself is a subjective measurement, the score of these metrics would be useful in gauging the kind of experience a user will have while using the page.

These are as follows:

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

It is a measure of how fast the content on your page loads. It is the time taken for the entire content of the page to appear and be usable from the time the user clicks on the link of the page. Google specifies an LCP of 2.5 seconds to be optimum. Anything above 4 seconds is completely undesirable.

Google also provides a number of tips to improve the LCP of a page. These include the application of instant loading with the PRPL pattern, usage of a good CDN, simplification or removal of unnecessary or complex code, and the optimization of the Critical Rendering Path, CSS, images, web fonts, and JavaScript for client-rendered sites.

First Input Delay (FID)

Google uses this metric to determine the interactivity of the page, i.e., how fast it responds to a user’s input. In technical terms, it is the duration between the moment a user clicks on a clickable part of the page and the moment the effect, the action is meant to bring about, starts showing.

An FID of under 100 milliseconds is optimal according to Google. You can make this happen by improving your JavaScript, minimizing main thread work, reducing the impact of third-party code as well as the JavaScript execution time, and keeping transfer size small and request counts low.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

CLS gauges the stability of the visual elements of the page. In other words, it is used to measure the visual stability of the webpage. Technically, it is the total shift in the content of the page due to dynamic changes in the elements of the page like images, text, banners, ads, etc.

You may have experienced instances where you were reading a text but the loading of an image shifts the content up or down and you lose the line. The consequences are especially serious if the site has something to do with buying or information security, where a click on a wrong button could have critical results. Keeping the CLS below 0.1 is desirable.

You can make this happen by using transform animations over animations of properties that may cause layout alterations, including size attributes on visual elements, reserving space using CSS aspect ratio boxes, and not inserting content above existing content, except for user interactions.


Your score in these metrics will determine how the browser will interact with your page and present it to a user. The lower your score, the farther your Google SERP ranking will go down.

Mobile-Friendly Sites

Mobile-friendliness has become a critical factor in the ranking of sites and pages in the Google search engine results. The number of smartphone users is well on its way to reaching 4 billion. This means that at least half or more of the world’s inhabitants use smartphones. Smartphones provide greater mobility, accessibility, and convenience to users.

Thus, more and more users are now browsing the Internet from their mobiles. This naturally means that users are also accessing brand websites from their mobiles more often now than ever before. Thus, it is extremely important for sites to ensure that their pages are mobile-friendly.

In fact, 85% of people believe that the mobile site of a company should at least be as good as, if not better, than its desktop site. A responsive design is a minimum that you must ensure to make it user-friendly for visitors. There are various other elements and design decisions that you can ensure to make your site a pleasure to use on the smartphone screen.


Privacy and Safe Browsing

Google will be putting extra stress on website security in its ranking algorithm from now on. Sites with low security or that use unethical practices will be ranked lower in the SERPs after the update. Any page that does not take user information security or browsing safety seriously will feel the repercussions in their Google SEO rankings.

The main things to be aware of are that there should be no flaws in the security settings of your site that could result in it being hacked, no malware should be present on the site, and no social engineering should be done via the site in response to any user action.

You should also secure your site using HTTPS Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, i.e., use TLS or Transport Layer Security, earlier called SSL or Secure Sockets Layer to protect data in transit.

Why You Should Be Keen On This Update?

User experience has become a focal point of people’s choices in going with a brand or not. A bad user experience results in churn and it could take years of improvements to get those customers back, or maybe never. Moreover, just like people recommend a good site, they also let others know when a site provides bad UX. This will result in you losing present and future customers.

Nonetheless, as mentioned earlier too, a bad page experience will also result in your Google SERP rankings going down. Thus, fewer people may click on your site, reducing overall traffic, and thus your revenue. Moreover, if you end up on the later pages of search results, forget getting any traffic at all.

In brief, after this update, no matter how good your content is, unless you can provide a good user experience, you can forget about ranking in the SERPs.

What Is A Bad Page Experience?

Bad user experience can come in many forms. Anything that frustrates and puts off a user will count under a bad user experience. The very first impression that a user gets of this is the site loading time. In this fast-paced world, people will not wait too long for your content to load. If they have to keep waiting for your page to open or they have to keep reloading it, they will just not make the effort and move on.

The next is the user interface your site provides. A bad site structure and design will cause the user to fumble and be confused. Navigability and usability are huge factors here. The language and design of the site should be equally in congruence with the cognitive range of the demographic that visits your site. A cramped or confusing site will cause a high bounce rate.

And, finally, your page content should add value to the visit of the user. At the end of the day, the user is coming to your site for the content matching their search intent. If you do not provide reliable and relevant content, the users will look for it elsewhere.

How To Ensure Good Page Experience?

The best way to ensure that your webpage is providing a good user experience to its visitors is to test your site and compare it with your main competitors or those better than you.

Let us try to explain that to you in detail.

Compare Experience with Main Competitors

Running analytics on your competitors is a great way to understand what users of the demographic (that you are targeting) want. If your competitors are ranking better than you, try to find out what they are using that you are not. If it is something that is used by each or most of the competitors ranking above you, then you can be sure what it is.

Many analytics tools exist that can help you do this. Ahrefs, SEMRush, and even good old Google Analytics can provide clues as to what you are missing that your competitors use to their advantage. Moreover, professional website designers can easily help you out more in this respect.

Analyze your Site’s Layout and Design

A good way to understand how users interact with your site is to use a heatmap tool. It will give a great insight as to how users behave and think while using your site. If you are unsure of what will work best for your site, you can use A/B testing to find out which element is more successful among your customers.

Not every site owner is an expert in web design and UX. In that case, you can either hire a UX design expert or use out-of-the-box themes and templates on your site. These are tried and tested and should work out in most cases.


As days go by, the Google algorithm becomes more and more intelligent in ascertaining which site will be favoured more by users. The Page Experience will have a major impact on search engine rankings, and site owners will have to pull up their socks and get to work to ensure that they do not lose favour with the Google SEO algorithm.