Search engine optimization evolves year after year as search engines like Google continue to change and improve algorithms. Knowledge of the key ranking factors that change the way businesses optimize their websites is crucial to keeping or improving current rankings.
Here, we’ll discuss ranking factors that should be on your radar: Google Page Experience and EAT.
What is Google Page Experience?
Google has always focused on the user. But this year, they’re taking it further by presenting the page experience update, which brought in the Core Web Vitals (CWV) with its three new ranking factors.
Users have always preferred websites that not only offer the information they need but also have a pleasant page experience. Google knows this, so they added these metrics to the list of ranking signals that you’re already aware of: mobile-friendliness, HTTPS, and secure web browsing.
Here are the three main metrics that the Google update measure:
• Largest Contentful Pain or LCS
• Cumulative Layout Shift or CLS
• First Input Delay or FID
These three metrics determine how fast a web page loads, the visual stability of the page, and the speed of its interactivity. We’ll guide you through these three metrics to better understand what they are and what you need to improve.
Largest Contentful Paint or LCP
The LCP metric measures the render time of the biggest image, file or text block in the page, relative to when it first started loading.
Elements in your website that take time to load need to be fixed and optimized. Huge files take the longest time to load, so if you have them on your page, compress or delete them.
LCP is important because not only is it a key indicator of site performance, it will also influence how Google crawls your pages. The fewer pages are indexed, the lesser chances your pages will rank. A page that doesn’t load quickly will limit the number of pages Google crawlers will be able to index.
You also have to think about the users.
Web visitors want pages that load quickly. They want to instantly access the content they clicked. Generally, if a page loads more than 3 seconds, they will leave and move on to a competitor’s page. A high bounce rate will send a signal to Google that your content isn’t relevant or helpful; when this happens more frequently, your website will show up farther and farther down the search results.
What is a good LCP score?
For a user to have a great experience, sites should aim for a Largest Contentful Paint of 2.5 seconds or less.
Here’s the scoring system as announced by Google:
Elements to monitor under the Largest Contentful Paint API are:
• Image elements
• Video elements
• Element with a background image loaded via the url() function (instead of a CSS gradient)
Tools like GTmetrix are helpful in analyzing your website and checking how quick your website loads. It delivers a report on a series of performance metrics like your LCP score.
To make sure that your website is optimized for the LCP metric, only upload the smallest version of a file and always test afterwards whether the page loads more than 3 seconds or less.
Cumulative Layout Shift or CLS
Cumulative Layout Shift measures visual stability or how stable the elements in your website are. A shift can be defined as anything in your website that’s unstable or any element on a page that changes position.
An example would be if a user is about to click on a CTA then accidentally clicks a different element because the entire area shifted due to an ad or an image loaded late.
This scenario will annoy a user, at the least, or prompt a complaint if a financial transaction has accidentally gone through.
Unstable movements can sometimes be caused by images or videos with different dimensions or a third party widget that adjusts itself. Another instance is when an element is progressively added on top of existing content.
It can be challenging to detect since a page can function differently when developers are testing it compared to how actual users experience it. Work with web developers who have experience with the most popular platforms and are experts in the field. They’ll be able to catch those details that can cause shifts on your page.
How are unstable movements measured?
CLS measures the total layout shift scores for each time an unexpected shift occurs during the entire duration of a user’s page visit. This metric will count the number of times a visible element shifts from one rendered position to another.
However, not all shifts are bad.
Some movements are expected and others and unexpected. A layout shift is only bad if the visitor is not expecting the movement. But there are instances where a shift happens in response to the visitor’s request, which is acceptable in this case.
Here’s the scoring system for CLS as announced by Google:
How do you measure CLS?
Cumulative layout shift involves the measurement of distance fraction, which is the amount of space the element has moved from its original position to its final position. It also measures the impact fraction total space the element occupied from when it was first loaded to when it moved. CLS score is the product of these two elements.
An example would be if an image originally took up 5 percent of the screen, then moved another 10 percent, and in total, took 15 percent of the space. The impact fraction would be 15 percent and the distance fraction would be 10 percent. The product of the two would be .015 percent.
To measure CLS, use tools such as Google’s own Chrome Developer Tools and Lighthouse Report.
First Input Delay (FID)
Interactivity is measured from when a visitor first interacts with a page (ex. click or scroll), up to the time when the browser begins to process the interaction.
Google wants to know if users actually go to a website and engage with it. So this metric is implemented to measure your website’s engagement level,
In the last update, there were cases when a website can have a low bounce rate due to bots visiting it and just parking there. Then, Google would think that the content is helpful since the “users” weren’t leaving.
To combat this and to curate the page better, Google now requires interaction as a metric. Google wants to see a user click, when using a desktop or a laptop, or tap, when it comes to mobile devices.
This metric ensures that your website doesn’t only look good, but it serves its purpose as well and engages visitors.
Here’s the scoring system for FID as announced by Google:
Get an excellent FID score by optimizing your calls-to-action and make sure that your page has elements that are engaging. Install chatbots and make sure that your search bars are highly visible because users interact with these elements the most and they’re ideal for improving this CWV signal.
Optimize for the Core Web Vitals update by doing the following:
- Make images smaller
- Scale images to the correct sizing
- Specify areas for images, videos, ads and other elements to stabilize loading
- Choose to use a content delivery network (CDN) to your hosting platform to speed up your server.
- Remove any unnecessary plugins
Optimizing for Google’s Core Web Vitals will put your website in a better position for ranking. However, user experience won’t be complete without high quality content.
This is where Google’s E-A-T principle comes in.
What is Google’s E-A-T?
Google and other search engines are where people go when they want information or answers to queries. To ensure users’ safety. quality and validity of the content is important. It’s for this reason that Google implemented the E-A-T principle.
E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. It’s a ranking signal that measures the relevance and credibility of a content.
This has been Google’s top ranking principle since it was published in the Search Quality Guidelines in 2014 and Google relies on E-A-T data as a basis for its ranking signals.
Here are the individual components of E-A-T and how you can use each to enhance your content marketing.
Expertise refers to the content’s level of expertise and knowledge about a particular subject. As a content creator, you must know how to relay this knowledge to your audience. If you are to stand side-by-side with a competitor, and were asked to demonstrate your level of expertise about a subject, you’ll be picked by Google if you demonstrate a higher level of proficiency.
All the pages of your website will be crawled and examined to see if your content demonstrates a higher level of knowledge, skills, and expertise than other websites.
How to create content that provides expertise:
• Conduct in-depth keyword research to find what your target readers are looking for.
• Create content about a topic that’s well researched and that will help your audience resolve their problem.
• Put the author’s name and biography for all blog content. Users will be curious about where the information will come from, especially if it contains medical citations. Author’s information needs to be available in order to evaluate whether they’re an expert for the content published.
Authoritativeness refers to influence and reputation. What strengthens a website’s authority is when other sites start mentioning you and citing your content on their own website.
When you become a source for others, your name or your brand starts appearing on the search because Google gets the signal that other websites value information on your page so that must mean searchers and other users will find the same value as well.
Tips on establishing authoritativeness:
• Gain strong external links from high authority websites
• Avoid being mentioned or linked to malicious websites (gambling sites, adult sites, firearms, etc.)
• Produce relevant content that can be shared across all mediums
You can measure authority through Majestic’s Flow Metric Scores. You’ll receive reports on trust flow and citation flow, these will measure your content in terms of its quality and the reliability of backlinks connected to it.
Trustworthiness refers to the authenticity of your content; if you’re publishing materials that are valid and factual. Transparency is vital in developing trustworthiness.
Accumulating positive reviews, having business information, providing T&Cs and domain security are a few elements that will boost trustworthiness.
Tips on boosting trustworthiness:
• Be proactive in generating positive reviews. Reviews that have been generated by local readers are going to be helpful for local businesses.
• Have your business information available on your website.
• Make sure to include the complete specifications and information when displaying products and services.
• Invest in web security. Ensure that you get an SSL certification for your domain.
Make sure your readers are provided with expert, authoritative, and trustworthy information.
Ask the following before creating and publishing your content:
• Is the content based on factual data?
• Does it provide expert advice or opinion?
• Is the writer knowledgeable about the topic?
• Does the title relay the message of the content?
• Does it look good on all devices?
• Is it the kind of content other websites can refer to and link to?
Improving a website’s E-A-T will help increase its ranking as google will promote content from those sites more often. This will then influence consumers’ trust in the company, and improve sales as well.
Optimize and Update Often
New metrics will always be a part of SEO and high-quality content should always be a priority for any organization. When optimizing for Google, work on:
• Page Experience update – refining your website to achieve good scores on LCP, CLS, and FID, and
• E-A-T – developing and producing expertly crafted, authoritative, and trustworthy content for users to gain or maintain your search ranking.
If you’re unsure of how to go about your SEO strategy, choosing the right SEO company should help you get started the right way and implement SEO correctly using only the best practices.
The goal is to serve your customers better by providing them with the information they need coupled with the best experience. Search engines aim to do the same, and therefore you have to keep up with the changes to dominate search.
Search engines will always update their algorithm and as business owners or marketers, you must be on top of these updates to grow your business consistently.
This is an article by Itamar Gero. He is the founder and CEO of SEOReseller.com, a global white label SEO and digital marketing solutions provider that empowers agencies and their local clients all over the world. When he isn’t working, he’s traveling the world, meditating, or dreaming (in code).