For years web developers, SEO consultants, digital marketers and copywriters have talked about the fact that ‘user experience’ must be at the very core of each and every decision you make about your company’s website.
Now, with the announcement from Google that Core Web Values metrics will start to impact SEO website rankings from next year, good user experience becomes even more imperative.
Recently Google announced a new ranking system which is designed to judge web pages based on how users perceive the experience of interacting with them.
Core Web Values
Essentially, this means that if Google thinks users have a poor experience on your page, then your site or pages may not be ranked as highly as they are now. User experience will be measured by a new set of metrics called Core Web Values, and these include considerations such as:
- how quickly and smoothly a page loads
- whether it is mobile friendly
- if it runs on HTTPS
- how ads work on the page, avoiding intrusive interstitial
- if it is safe browsing (no malware, for example).
The full details of the metrics being used, what to check for, and how to check has all been published by Google and is available for web developers and SEO consultants and anyone else who wants to deep dive into the jargon and the specifics.
The new ranking system is due to come into effect early next year, so there is time to work on your site. While Google has not confirmed how much weighting will be given to each element listed above, one thing is clear, and that is, companies need to focus firmly on the performance of their mobile sites.
Focus on mobile sites
Recognising the growing trend in mobile web browsing a few years ago Google started testing a mobile-first index. Then earlier this year, Google announced it would be “switching to mobile-first indexing for all websites’ which will also begin in March next year.
The tech giant confirmed that last year 63 percent of visits to its search engine were from mobile users. And here’s something else from its research – around 50 per cent of users abort a site if it takes more than three seconds to load from a mobile device. As an aside, it will be interesting to see how much these stats have been affected by the pandemic, which has meant more people are at home, with laptops, rather than using devices on the go.
That said, mobile access to information is still very much the way of the future because of convenience, and the fact that Smartphone functionality is constantly increasing. Certainly, the Australian love-affair with smartphones continues. According to 2019 numbers, there are almost 18 million smartphones in operation in Australia, in a population of not quite 25 million people. That’s exceptionally high saturation by any measure.
Content remains ‘King’
However, despite a clear focus on functionality, according to Google, content is still King. It has confirmed that original, informative, clear content will still rank highly in Google Search, despite a poor page experience. However, where content is similar across sites, then page experience will become much more important.
To explain this in further detail, here is an example. An interesting one might be corporate training organisations which all offer a similar set of learning and development modules, such as: developing highly skilled teams, how to communicate more effectively with customers and how to boost sales performance. There are several companies offering this training, and they are all located in the same city.
In a highly competitive market such as this, website content needs to differentiate itself from its competitors, even where subject matter is virtually the same. This is where skilled copywriting and a well-considered SEO strategy, along with good web design all come into play, to ensure that the highest possible site ranking can be achieved.
Typically, Google provides about a 6-month warning for new updates such as this to go live, so there is time to conduct an audit of your site, and to run it through the testing tools provided by Google. However, given the intricacies of the elements involved in determining ‘user experience’ and how they each interact, it would be wise to get professional advice from an SEO consultant or SEO digital marketing agency.
Invest in the future of your online presence
While we’re still navigating the ‘new normal’ post Covid-19 pandemic, and a global recession that could last for some years yet, one thing is clear: going forward, businesses will be seeking new ways to interact with both staff and customers online to ensure health and safety and to grow market share. In many ways, now is the perfect time to be reviewing your online presence across all areas, including social media and your digital marketing campaigns too, to ensure they are all working to maximum effect.
If we can help, contact us.