Google Page Experience Signals: Coming May 2021

closeup of fingers typing

Earlier this year, Google announced that Page Experience signals would soon be included in Google Search rankings.

This week, Google announced the rollout date for these new ranking signals. We can expect them to take effect starting in May 2021.

Key Takeaways

  • Google Page Experience includes existing ranking signals such as mobile-friendliness and safe browsing combined with new ones called Core Web Vitals.
  • We can expect these new pagespeed metrics to influence search rankings in the future, but we don’t yet know how much.
  • Page Experience will replace the need to have AMP pages in order to be eligible for Google’s Top Stories carousel. Focusing on Page Experience will give you greater control and means you no longer need to maintain two versions of your site.
  • As always, pagespeed is key. We’re optimizing all Mediavine products (Create, Grow and Trellis) for these new Web Vital goals and will keep you updated as we learn more.

As their name implies, Google Page Experience signals measure how readers interact with a web page, in order to gauge (and reward) the relative quality of user experiences across the web.

We’ve known these changes were coming for some time, and still have another six months to go. Below, we’ll talk about what publishers can expect and what you can do to prepare.

two people with laptops sitting on windowsill

What is Google Page Experience?

Page Experience involves numerous existing, relatively obvious ranking signals like mobile-friendliness, HTTPS, safe browsing and a lack of intrusive interstitials on a given website.

Important Note: Mediavine recently announced the return of mobile interstitials. Rest assured, these new ad units will pass Google’s strict guidelines (and could earn you additional revenue)!

Page Experience will combine the above factors with Core Web Vitals.

These much-discussed vital signs are basically the old PageSpeed Insights such as the First Input Delay, a retooled Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) and the new Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS).

Google Search Console already uses these metrics, which are also now incorporated into Lighthouse 6 and PageSpeed Insights.

TL;DR/too many acronyms and fake-sounding words — Core Web Vitals are the new pagespeed metrics Google wants us all to hit.

We encourage publishers to check out this article Mediavine’s Director of Product Jordan Cauley wrote about Core Web Vitals to learn what all of these mean — and how to optimize for them — in detail.

Our CEO Eric Hochberger also recently published this helpful guide to solving for Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) specifically.

hands holding phone touching screen

Visual Indicators Will Highlight Page Experience

Google’s blog post regarding the release of Page Experience contains an interesting and telling section on how the success of publishers at these metrics will be communicated on screen:

[Providing information] about the quality of a web page’s experience can be helpful to users in choosing the search result that they want to visit.

On results, the snippet or image preview helps provide topical context for users to know what information a page can provide.

Visual indicators on the results are another way to do the same, and we are working on one that identifies pages that have met all of the page experience criteria. We plan to test this soon and [if successful], it will launch in May 2021 and we’ll share more details [in the coming months].

Google’s goal has always been to provide users with quality content they are searching for, and this indicates how important Page Experience is becoming. If your user experience is deemed top-notch, Google will let readers know with more visual cues.

How Much Will Page Experience Influence Rankings?

Only Google can truly answer that, but we’re confident in saying: a lot.

If you’re a Mediavine publisher, or tuned in to the web publishing world at all, you know that site speed has been an important ranking factor for years and is only becoming more critical.

Google using Page Experience as a ranking factor that is more heavily weighted than ever is as safe a bet as you’ll find.

In a previous blog post, Google even said that Page Experience is more important for Search when ranking pages with similar content.

For a company whose explanations of products can be opaque, to put it nicely, this is pretty straightforward. Look for Page Experience to be as influential as we’ve predicted and then some.

woman in cafe on laptop and phone

What About AMP Pages?

Until now, the only way to be eligible for Google’s Top Stories carousel was to be a Google News publisher and run AMP pages.

You’ll still need to be a Google News publisher to qualify come May 2021, but Page Experience guidelines will take the place of AMP pages, which marks a significant change in the overall calculus.

While Google says AMP remains an easy and cost-effective path to great page experiences, our recommendation is to make Page Experience a priority across your entire site, not just AMP.

AMP is, in essence, a second version of your pages. Our philosophy is to solve for Page Experience site-wide, maintaining full control of your site and only maintaining one version of it.

It not only makes for a better experience for publishers and users alike, but because you (and Mediavine) will have greater control over monetization, revenues should increase as well.

The long and short of it: Solve for Page Experience and you won’t need AMP.

Gearing Up For the Requirements

If you’re a reader of the Mediavine blog, chances are good that your site is already mobile-friendly, secure and free of invasive, obnoxious advertising.

And perhaps you’ve heard us champion the virtues of pagespeed once, maybe even two or three times.

We will make certain that our Script Wrapper is optimized for these new Web Vitals goals, along with our plugins Create and Grow.

Oh, and it should go without saying that Trellis will help you hit the Web Vital scores you need.

We’ll be monitoring any further developments and passing along any new details, but remember, changes impacting site speed and improving the web are something we’re prepared for and advocate for.

Page Experience is no different, and we’ve got this together.

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