What was long rumored is now official: Google is releasing a new ranking signal in 2021, called Page Experience. With this change effectively comes the phasing out of Google’s AMP requirements.
This means that current search features exclusive to AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) like the Top Stories carousel will soon be available to regular, well-optimized mobile sites that meet the new requirements.
Repeat: This is coming sometime in 2021, so there’s plenty of time to be ready. In the meantime, we’re here to help you prepare to optimize so you’re eligible for this critical Google search ranking change.
What is Page Experience?
Page Experience is actually a combination of existing ranking signals like Mobile-friendly, Safe browsing, HTTPS, no intrusive interstitials, and the recently announced Core Web Vitals.
If you’re not familiar with Core Web Vitals, you soon will be.
Google Search Console now incorporates these metrics, and is already alerting publishers with warning messages regarding them. They’re also now incorporated into Lighthouse 6 and PageSpeed Insights.
These are the new pagespeed metrics Google wants us all to hit. Our Director of Product Jordan Cauley wrote a great blog post explaining Core Web Vitals and what you should know about these metrics, so please check that out.
Basically, these new vital signs are the old PageSpeed Insights goals like First Input Delay, a revamped Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) and the brand new Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS).
Is Page Experience a Ranking Factor?
Speed has been a ranking factor for years, so it’s no surprise that Google is using Page Experience as a ranking factor as well. They’re also throwing down the gauntlet and flat out telling you it’s more important than ever.
While Google Search will always prioritize good content, and that will always be my SEO Like A CEO mantra, Google now says:
You can’t get much more blunt than that, can you?
Come 2021, Google is making Page Experience much more important than before, and it was already a big deal. But the biggest news of all to come out of this is the following:
Top Stories, the section at the very top of Search Engine Result Pages, previously reserved for AMP pages, is about to open up to non-AMP pages that meet Page Experience requirements!
Top Stories: The End of AMP?
We’ve long encouraged Mediavine publishers listed in Google News to run AMP, because until now, that was the only way to be eligible for the Top Stories carousel: Being a Google News publisher and using AMP pages.
That was, prior to this change, the major SEO draw of AMP.
You’ll still have to be a Google News publisher to be eligible in 2021, but the other requirement will be a thing of the past with the advent of Page Experience guidelines taking the place of AMP pages.
So is this the end of AMP altogether?
Yes and no. AMP is now just one way to hit your Page Experience goals, so by opening this up, AMP is now optional instead of required.
So should you run AMP?
While we fully support the goals of AMP, it’s not our ideal solution to pagespeed problems. We’d rather see publishers treat Page Experience as a first-class citizen across their the entire websites, not just AMP pages.
Our recommendation is to solve for Page Experience, thus maintaining full control of your site and only maintaining one site (AMP is basically a second version of your pages).
It’s just a better experience for publishers and users alike. Plus, it’ll make you a lot more money because, as your ad management company, we’ll have greater control over monetization.
Bottom line: If you solve for Page Experience, you won’t need AMP.
Great, So How Do I Hit These Page Experience Requirements?
If you’ve followed our advice over the years, you’ll have met a ton of the requirements already. You’ll have a mobile-friendly, secure site that’s free of mobile pop-ups. Plus, maybe you’ve heard us encouraging pagespeed a time or two.
You’re already starting from a good position, and we all have until next year to hit these new goals. Google is well aware that there’s a global pandemic going on and that all shifts of this nature require time and effort.
We’ll be working even more on the pagespeed modes in our Script Wrapper to make sure they’re optimized for these new Web Vitals goals, and working on our plugins Create and Grow to ensure they are as well.
And, you guessed it, Trellis will be built to help you hit the Web Vital scores you need. And yes, mark this down, it will be released before the end of the year, in plenty of time for this new ranking factor.
As always, we’ve got your back. Any modifications to Google rankings that prioritize pagespeed are right in our wheelhouse — and yours. We’ll make 2021 the year of Page Experience together.
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