On May 28, 2020, Google announced that the site experience update would be released sometime in 2021. This is the earliest announcement Google has made of an upcoming update, and SEO teams around the world have been racing to make sure their websites are prepared.
“Page Experience” means that the elements on your website not only work technically well, but also provide a good user experience.
In other words, your website should be intuitive, easy to use, meet your customers’ needs, and have the content they need to move forward on their unique buyer journey.
Many current SEO strategies rightly highlight and focus on readability and scannability. Now content strategists and tech teams need to make sure that once someone arrives at their website or page, it works fine on both the web and mobile browsers.
What we know about the update
“The page experience signal measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a website,” said Google about the update. “By optimizing these factors, the web becomes more enjoyable for users in all web browsers and interfaces, and websites can evolve in the direction of user expectations on mobile devices. We believe this will contribute to web business success as users become more engaged and with fewer transactions can handle friction. “
Basically, Google tries to be more human with SEO. Although the current system takes some backend and style factors into account, the update rewards pages that are usable and popular with visitors.
The information that Google published on the update underscores the importance of the so-called core web vitals, which deal with the usability dimensions such as loading time, interactivity and stability of the content when loading (an example can be found in the video) on this page ).
How Page Experience fits into your SEO strategy
It’s difficult to report exactly how much the Google Page Experience update is affecting website ranking. The announcement is so far in advance that either Google is silent about the exact implications or it is not even certain itself.
Google SEO updates aren’t unprecedented, however, and there are a few we can consider as potential indicators of the impact. Google’s Panda and BERT updates, while more related to queries, fall in a similar area to the upcoming page experience update. At the time of publication, around 12% of all requests from Panda and 10% from Google BERT were affected.
Assuming that the page experience update has a similar weight (approx. 10%), the page experience is not considered to be the most important factor for the placement of a page. This assumption was confirmed by Rudy Galfi, Product Manager of Google’s Google Search Ecosystem. He told Search Engine Land that great content will still have the greatest weight in the ranking.
Google went a step further on their blog, saying that a page with good content and information, but a bad page experience can still rank high, although not necessarily the other way around. The page experience serves more as a tiebreaker between websites with similarly serious content.
Three areas to focus on are content, mobile friendliness, and website security:
- Since content is still the be-all and end-all, B2B websites should make sure that their posts answer their customers’ most important questions. From there, find the pages that are bringing you the most organic traffic. This is where your content review should begin to ensure that your page experiences are user-friendly.
- More purchases are being made on mobile devices than ever before, and Google has already begun to adopt mobile-first measures. Along with the Page Experience rollout, these B2B marketers should be inspired to make sure their CTA placement and formatting are properly optimized.
- The security of the website speaks for itself. If a website is unsafe or has a high presence of malware and phishing activity, it is inherently not a good site experience for users. Therefore, Google will penalize the website accordingly.
How the page experience affects B2Bs
Up to this point, we’ve discussed elements of the page experience that apply to whether your business is B2B or B2C. However, the B2B buyer’s journey is different from that of a B2C consumer, and the optimal on-page experiences are also different.
B2C has a direct sales funnel: attract, educate, convert. The goal of a B2C business is to move prospects linearly from the top of the funnel down, at least in the context of a website. Accordingly, it can be easier to understand how to create a good B2C page experience. The web team’s job is to ensure that the already simple funnel feels effortless for the people in it – for example, a high functionality of the “Add to Cart” feature or a good product filtering system.
For B2Bs, however, the sales funnel isn’t always as linear as we expect. B2B websites optimized for the sales funnel should feel less like a path and more like a playground where users can explore their own interests and needs. When optimizing the page experience, B2B companies therefore need clear recommendations that reflect the complexity of their business model.
So what can you do to have a better B2B site experience? First, websites need to allow users to be in control of their own travel. Make sure your website is easy to navigate so that users can continue to browse whatever information you are offering, no matter where they are in the funnel.
On each page, your website should have options to help users move from one stage in the sales funnel to the next. This allows potential customers to take a journey that may not follow the linear funnel used in B2C marketing. Just providing CTAs pushing your users into the sales funnel could bounce visitors off your website if they don’t feel ready to take the next step. The goal is to help your users explore for as long as necessary until they eventually convert.
You can also invest in conversion rate optimization (CRO) testing of the most important pages on your website. CRO testing can turn your best hypothesis about what your customers want into hard data. It’s also inexpensive and brings great returns.
Just as B2B customers need more variety during the buyer’s journey, they also prefer variety in the content provided. Some users want data, while others may prefer something more visual. Some will learn from videos; others may prefer a white paper. Some want to make a phone call; others prefer to connect via email or chatbots.
Different users feel connected to your site through different media. So it is important to add as much variety as possible to your site so that it more fully suits your needs.
Since users take their own journey through your website, they can step in at any time without necessarily understanding the jargon of the industry. Don’t assume that your prospects know anything about your industry. Do thorough keyword research to understand the language your audience is actually using. With this information, you can talk to and connect with your audience in a way that will meet them where they are.
Why Page Experience is important
Is This Google Update Really Important? If you adjust your strategy, shouldn’t your website or webpage keep its effectiveness?
The shortest answer would be “yes, it matters” and “yes, in theory your website should continue to work as it was”. But these are statements that are too simplified. SEO teams should view the upcoming update as an opportunity to make progress by focusing their content on the audience’s experience.
The experience with pages is crucial for B2Bs and other businesses as it creates a level playing field.
So far, SEO has strongly favored big brand names. Think about some of the most important consensus ranking factors like backlinks or keyword search density: Well-known brands are linked more often for convenience and because their names are widely recognized. They also get an innate boost in searches as their brand name can literally be part of the query.
The page experience introduces a ranking factor that has little to do with the brand. Large companies have endless resources to devote, including tech and SEO teams, to clean up content that is currently performing poorly. However, you also need to manage larger websites. While the Page Experience Update may not allow smaller sites to be one step ahead of the industry giants immediately, it does give smaller sites a chance to get a ranking factor that they can use to compete.
Website performance metrics like click through rate, visit duration and bounce rate are becoming even more important. As mentioned earlier, Google tries to humanize the ranking factors by going beyond algorithmic results and directing users to websites that they like. Performance metrics are the easiest way to measure this. So, if your website has slow load times, bad gateways, buttons that don’t work properly, or the website just doesn’t look good on the web or mobile, your content is less likely to keep visitors.
The page experience is vital for any business, but should be highlighted regardless of the Google update, especially for B2Bs. A B2B website needs to contain a little more information than the average website. Because of this, a positive page experience is a must to convert your website content into conversions.
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The upcoming update from Google can convince your company to optimize the page experience on the website. However, I recommend that you start making any necessary changes immediately.
Consider updating the page experience, start rolling out page designs, and use multivariate testing to determine which experience will give your business the best conversion rate. That way, by the time the Google update goes live, you’ll be ready not only to rank higher, but also to do better business.