Content is king…we say it all the time. But even if your site offers the very best in insightful blog posts, comprehensive model pages, and thorough vehicle comparisons, Google will devalue those pages if your site offers a less-than-than satisfying user experience.
When discussing user experience (or UX) it’s fairly common to see the terms “core web vitals” and “page experience” lumped together as if they’re interchangeable. However…they’re actually two VERY separate data sets that work together to inform Google on a site’s user experience. While “Core Web Vitals” are measured through Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) “Page Experience” focuses on three DIFFERENT metrics.
So, what are they?
We’ve all heard the term “mobile first”. It speaks to the fact that roughly 2/3 of internet traffic takes place on smartphones, as opposed to desktop devices. And it’s why the mobile version of Google’s Page Experience Update took place a year prior to the desktop update that we talked about last month. Simply put, sites that are properly optimized to perform well on mobile devices are more likely to perform better in Google search results.
But this isn’t new. In fact, Google first rolled out their mobile-friendly algorithm boost back in May of 2016. It’s what began the page-by-page process of crawling and indexing each and every one of your site’s pages to determine how well they perform on mobile devices. Hopefully, you’re aware of this and either you, or your web provider, have spent the last six years optimizing your site accordingly. But what if you’re not sure?
Well, the good news is that you don’t need a specialized tool or an intimate understanding of data science to find out. Just visit the link below…
Here you can paste the unique URLs of your site’s pages and see how well each performs in the eyes of Google. The assessment of each URL might take a minute or two, but the results are simple and easy to understand. Either the site IS mobile friendly, is NOT mobile friendly, or (in rare cases) you might see that there’s NO DATA AVAILABLE. In the event of the latter, it’s recommended that you simply wait a bit and try again. But regardless of the results, you can find additional information related to the report’s findings within the results box, and through the Learn More link.
Understanding the mobile-friendliness of pages on YOUR site is a worthwhile practice – whether to troubleshoot your site internally, or to hold your vendor accountable. Which brings us to…
In your browser, you’ve probably noticed the prefixes HTTP and HTTPS appearing before the URL of any given site…but what’s the difference?
HTTP (which stands for “HyperText Transfer Protocol”) is the process by which data arrives to your browser, via the web server. In other words, it’s how you’re able to load the web pages once you click on them. HTTPS, however, is the more secure version of this process and the one encouraged by Google since 2014. The “S” simply stands for “Secure”.
This encrypted process protects the user from data theft, allowing them to share their sensitive data with greater confidence. It’s the preference of Google, and is a requirement for use of the AMP (or Accelerated Mobile Page) framework that allows for quick-loading mobile pages.
Starting to see how this all pieces together?
But how can you switch from HTTP to HTTPS if you haven’t already done so?
- Purchase an SSL Certificate. This can be done directly from your web hosting company, or through your third-party vendor.
- Have the SSL Certificate installed through your web host.
- Have all internal links updated from HTTP To HTTPS. Fair warning though, some links may not transfer with ease. Some may require updating within the code itself.
- Have redirects set up as needed, helping to ensure that browsers point to the HTTPS version of your page.
The process can be time-consuming but, whether you attempt to handle this in-house or have your vendor take care of it, it’s an important step in providing a safe browsing experience. So, let’s move on to the final Page Experience metric.
Absence of Intrusive Interstitials
We’ve all been there. You’re on your phone, you click a link to open a site, and suddenly…BOOM…the dreaded pop-up, blocking portions of the page you’re trying to read, and ruining your experience as a visitor to that site. Such pop-ups are known as “Intrusive Interstitials” and Google began cracking down on them back in January of 2017. Since then, sites that fail to avoid and/or block intrusive interstitials tend to be penalized in terms of search ranking.
But pop-ups are only one type of intrusive interstitial. Standalone interstitials are where the user needs to dismiss (or “x” out of) something in order to access the main content. Another type refers to page layouts where the main content has been dropped below-the-fold, placed beneath an interstitial element. This isn’t recommended as you’re basically prioritizing something of lower value above the content the user is actually looking for.
That said, not all interstitials are bad. Within reason, Google supports the use of certain ones if they’re used responsibly. Some examples? Those related to cookie usage, age verification, private log-in dialogs, and easily dismissible banners that don’t dominate the page.
- The creation of high-quality, relevant content on your site is important, but failure to optimize your site’s User Experience (consisting of BOTH “Core Web Vitals” and “Page Experience”) will render it unfavorable in the eyes of Google, hurting its chances of ranking higher in local search results.
- “Core Web Vitals” and “Page Experience” are not the same. They’re two separate sets of metrics which work together to inform Google of the quality of user experience offered by a site.
- “Page Experience” is gauged through the assessment of three key metrics:
- First, mobile-friendliness. How well do your site’s pages perform on mobile-devices? Not sure? Google’s URL Inspection Tool is a quick and easy way to find out.
- Next, HTTPS Security. Does your site offer a safe browsing experience? If you visit your site and see HTTP in the browser as opposed to HTTPS, it doesn’t. You’ll need to purchase and install an SSL Certificate, update all links, and set up redirects as needed.
- And finally, the absence (or presence ) of intrusive interstitials. Certain interstitials are okay, but if they block the main content on a page, or make it hard to access that content immediately, it degrades the user experience and needs to be fixed.
Which just about wraps things up for us. As always, be sure and connect with Wikimotive on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram. Because when it comes to automotive marketing in 2022, we’ll continue to have “Just the Tip” for you.