The long-awaited page experience update to Google’s ranking algorithm is currently being rolled out. Once it’s fully live, e-commerce stores with a poor user experience may see their organic ranking positions and traffic decline. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take in advance to prepare for this change—but you need to act fast.
In this post, we’ll walk you through five ways to prepare your e-commerce store for Google’s page experience update. We’ll also take a closer look at exactly what’s changing and why it matters.
An Overview of Google’s Page Experience Update
Google’s search algorithm is the system it uses to determine what results to show in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for any given query. Google regularly tweaks this system to improve the way it works.
The page experience update (set to be complete by August 2021) is one of the latest major changes to the algorithm. This update aims to ensure that only pages that offer a satisfactory user experience will rank highly in SERPs. Furthermore, it will place greater importance on so-called ‘page experience metrics.’
Specifically, seven key metrics will become more critical for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as a result of the update:
- Loading (Largest Contentful Paint): This measures the amount of time a website takes to display the largest content visible at the top of the page.
- Interactivity (First Input Delay): This measures the delay between when a user interacts with your site and when the browser responds.
- Visual Stability (Cumulative Layout Shift): This measures shifts in the page layout that aren’t caused by user interactions.
- Mobile Friendly: This measures how well a site is optimized for mobile devices.
- Safe Browsing: This metric can identify and penalize unsafe websites.
- HTTPS: Secure, encrypted connections are another important ranking signal.
- No Intrusive Interstitials: Websites that display intrusive elements like pop-up ads are penalized.
The first three of these (Loading, Interactivity, and Visual Stability) are brand new metrics that are being rolled out as part of the page experience update. They fall under the banner of ‘Core Web Vitals.’
Why the Page Experience Update Matters for E-Commerce Stores
This update to Google’s ranking algorithm may significantly impact e-commerce stores because 30.5% of e-commerce traffic comes from organic search.
If your organic rankings drop due to the update, it could have far-reaching consequences for your business. Your ranking can directly affect your traffic and, consequently, sales and revenue.
Until now, e-commerce store owners may have focused solely on existing ranking factors like keyword optimization. However, in the wake of the update, User Experience (UX) will have a much greater impact on how high your pages will rank in the SERPs. If your site isn’t well-optimized for UX, your competitors could jump ahead of you.
5 Ways to Prepare Your E-Commerce Store for Google’s Page Experience Update
Now that you know what the page experience update is and why it matters, let’s look at some steps you can take to prepare for it.
1. Measure Your Core Web Vitals in Search Console
The Page Experience report provides an overview of how well-optimized your site currently is for the user experience. You can use this tool to find out how many of your pages aren’t up to par:
If you scroll down this page, you’ll find a breakdown of any issues found on your website. If there’s a problem, you can find out which specific page experience signals you’re failing on:
The Core Web Vitals report enables you to monitor how the new metrics impact page experience. On the main page, you’ll see an overview of how well optimized your website URLs are for both mobile and desktop devices:
If you click on Open Report, you can see more details about which Core Web Vital metrics need improvement:
Once you know what the issues are, you can take steps to fix them.
2. Improve Your Page Speeds
Your page speed (or loading time) refers to how long it takes pages on your website to load fully. This metric may have a much more significant impact on SEO after the new update. Therefore, it’s essential to make sure your pages load as quickly as possible.
Here are some ways you can improve your page speeds:
- Compress and optimize images on your page using a WordPress plugin like ShortPixel.
- Minimize code using a plugin like Autoptimize.
- Enable caching using a plugin like WP Super Cache.
- Switch to a faster web hosting service like WP Engine.
You can also keep track of your page speed using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool:
We recommend a score of at least 50 (and ideally, over 90) to give your pages the best possible chance of ranking.
3. Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile-Friendly
Mobile-friendly websites are those built with a responsive design. This means that the layout and content automatically change to fit different screen sizes.
Mobile-friendliness may become a more important ranking factor following the page experience update. Therefore, it’s essential to make sure your e-commerce store is optimized for mobile devices.
4. Fix Website Security Issues
Website security may also have more weight in the ranking algorithm after the new update. Therefore, it’s worth taking steps to make your website as safe and secure as possible.
At a minimum, you should make sure that your website has a valid SSL certificate. This enables HTTPS encryption. In web browsers like Chrome, the URLs of websites with HTTPS are shown alongside a padlock icon to indicate that they’re secure:
You might also want to take steps to prevent malicious attacks and ensure safe browsing. This may involve implementing two-factor authentication for user accounts, or installing security plugins like Sucuri.
5. Identify and Correct Any Other UX Issues
Finally, you might want to identify and correct any other UX issues on your website. Problems that can negatively impact the user experience include intrusive pop-ups, sudden shifts in your page layout, and error pages.
It’s important to tidy these kinds of issues up before the page experience update. Here are some tips on how you can correct them:
- Limit your use of pop-ups and other intrusive elements.
- Correct navigation issues like broken links and page errors.
- Identify pages with high bounce rates (as this signals a UX issue) and improve them.
You can use a tool like Google Analytics to find these problem pages. Navigate to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages and look at the bounce rate column:
If you notice any pages with a particularly high bounce rate, it may suggest a UX issue.
Google’s page experience update looks to be an SEO game-changer. If you want to continue to rank well and drive as much organic search traffic as possible, it’s important to look closely at your core web vitals. Additionally, it is essential to put the user experience at the forefront of your strategy.
Do you have any questions about how to prepare your e-commerce store for Google’s page experience update? Let us know in the comments section below!