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Google is announcing Core Web Vitals will become ranking signals in May 2021 in an update that will also combine existing UX-related signals.

The ‘page experience’ signal combines Core Web Vitals with the following signals:

  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Safe-browsing
  • HTTPS-security
  • Intrusive interstitial guidelines

Core Web Vitals were introduced earlier this year and are designed to measure how users experience the speed, responsiveness, and visual stability of a page.

Specifically, these are defined as the Core Web Vitals:

  • Largest Contentful Paint: The time it takes for a page’s main content to load. The faster the better.
  • First Input Delay: The time it takes for a page to become interactive. Again, quicker is better.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift: The amount of unexpected layout shift of visual page content. In this case, less is better.

We are, of course, happy to discuss all the above signals and what the ideal measurements for your website should be.

“These signals measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page and contribute to our ongoing work to ensure people get the most helpful and enjoyable experiences from the web.”

Core Web Vitals are subject to change from year to year as user expectations of web pages change.

New Labels in Search Results

Google may add labels in search results that indicate which results provide a good page experience.

Google is currently working on visual indicators to identify pages that have met all of the page experience criteria listed in the section above.

Expect a test of the label to roll out soon. If the testing is successful it will launch in May 2021 alongside the page experience update.

As it stands, many pages would not qualify for this label. A study published in August shows less than 15% of sites are optimised well enough to pass a Core Web Vitals assessment.

Site owners appear to be working hard to prepare their pages for the page experience signal. Google reports a median 70% increase in the number of users engaging with Lighthouse and Page Speed Insights to evaluate page experience metrics.

Many site owners are also using Search Console’s Core Web Vitals report to identify opportunities for improvement.

Google has a total of 6 ways to measure Core Web Vitals.

For what it’s worth, Google recommends AMP as an easy and cost-effective way to optimise for the page experience signal.

“The majority of the AMP pages achieve great page experiences,” Google says.

Non-AMP Content in Top Stories Carousel

Google used the announcement of the page experience signal to also announce non-AMP pages will become eligible to appear in Top Stories in May 2021.

This update will roll out at the same time as the page experience ranking signal.

Any page that meets the Google News content policies will be eligible to appear in the Top Stories carousel, and pages that offer a superior experience will be prioritised in ranking.

Google notes that it will continue to support AMP content in Google Search the same way it currently does.