How to Prepare for the Google Page Experience Algorithm Update

Back in November, Google announced an upcoming Google Page Experience algorithm update that will soon change the way the search engine determines rankings. Starting in May, page experience will factor into how prominently your business is displayed.

It’s the latest in several recent or soon-to-be adjustments by Google that impact small businesses’ ability to reach customers. With the update coming up, you should set aside some time to prepare, so your business doesn’t take a hit in the rankings. 

What Will the Google Page Experience Update Change?

Following the Google algorithm update, page experience will play a part in determining search rankings. 

So, what does that mean? 

Google will evaluate page experience through a set of signals including mobile friendliness, page speed, use of HTTPS, and the use of intrusive interstitials.

According to the press release, Google’s mission is to “help users find the most relevant and quality sites on the web. The goal with these updates is to highlight the best experiences and ensure that users can find the information they’re looking for.”

The update will also add “visual indicators” to let searchers know if a site excels in any of these factors. Expect icons to indicate sites that are particularly fast or mobile-friendly or that use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). 

There’s Still Time to Improve Your Site

Again, the change won’t take place until May, so if your business’s site is struggling in any of these areas, you have time to make changes. However, it’s important that you do so. If your site is popular but not particularly fast or mobile-friendly, Google’s algorithm update will likely punish it.

On the plus side, there are several tools available to help publishers get their sites up to par. That means your ranking won’t have to suffer when the Google algorithm update is released. 

You can use Search Console’s Core Web Vitals report to get an overview of your site’s performance in several metrics. 

Google’s Page Speed Insights will give you a better sense of any loading speed issues for your site on both desktop and mobile. If your site is running slow, and it uses WordPress, caching plugin WP Rocket can help make it load faster.

If You Aren’t Using AMP, You May Want to Start Right Now

Google recommends you use Accelerated Mobile Pages, their open-source HTML framework. Right now, AMP is required for an article to show in the Top Stories carousel. That’s not going to be the case after the new algorithm update in May, so you could ditch it at that point if you wanted to. 

Still, Google continues to advocate for AMP, calling it “one of the easiest and cost-effective ways for publishers looking to achieve great page experience outcomes.” But the framework isn’t without its critics — we don’t think it’s necessarily a must-use.

What Are Intrusive Interstitials?

You may not be familiar with the term Google used for one of their — intrusive interstitials — but you’ve probably encountered them before.

You know when you visit a site, and the entire page is quickly covered by a large ad? That’s an intrusive interstitial. They make for a negative visitor experience. With the new Google algorithm update, your site will be penalized for having them. That makes sense. Even if your content is high-quality, if it’s difficult to view, it’s not of much use to people. 

If you have any intrusive interstitials, make sure you remove them before May.

It’s Not Totally Clear What Effect the Google Page Experience Update Will Have on Rankings

Some of these signals already affect rankings, so the update may change less than it appears to. We’ll have a better idea after the update launches in May. However, visual icons could help a site that’s able to earn a few of them. 

Also, these signals generally reflect best practices for creating a quality site. It’s probably a good idea to heed Google’s suggestions, regardless of their effect on rankings.