Visual Indicators & The Page Experience Update

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Posted on by Jason Cook
Categories: Just The Tip, User Experience Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

A few weeks back, we talked about Google’s Broad Core Update which Google rolled out the first week of December. And just before that we had served up an introduction to Core Web Vitals, which were the focal point of Google’s previous update back in May. That said, new year, new game. Not only will those updates have laid the groundwork for how your dealership’s site is being assessed in 2021 but, based on previous years, you can expect 3-5 additional updates to roll out later this year.

So, what do we know about the changes to come.

First off, User Experience will be more important than ever. Prior to last May, Google assessed a site’s page performance by its (i) Mobile-friendliness its ability to offer safe-browsing, its HTTPS-security and how effectively it blocked intrusive interstitials (or pop ups). The formal introduction of Core Web Vitals in last May’s update fleshed out the metrics that Google would use to determine which sites provide their users with the best overall experience. To recap, those updated metrics consisted of:

  • Largest Contentful Paint which measures how long it takes for the main content on a page to load.
  • First Input Delay which measures how long it takes for a page to become interactive, and
  • Cumulative Layout Shift which measures any unexpected layout shift pertaining to a page’s visual content.

Google laid out a one-year timeline in which all sites should be optimized to tick each of these seven boxes. And if you’re not sure how your pages measure up against these metrics, remember that you can run a Core Web Vitals report through Google Search Console that will provide you with a better understanding of where your pages stand.

However, visibility of how you measure up is about to become a little more public. Google has made their intentions clear when it comes to testing “visual indicators” which will appear under any search result, showing how that page measures up. Now, as marketers, we all understand that these sort of assessments have always been at the root of Google’s ranking process. But ranking factors aren’t common knowledge to the average Google user. By offering a simplified, user-friendly “rating system”, Google aims to drive traffic to those sites that best measure up to their standards.

Imagine the average car-buyer, performing a local search. Regardless of whether their search is make or model specific, the car-buyer themselves will now have more reason to favor the “Google-approved” dealership. In other words, a local competitor who has spent the last 7 months optimizing their site stands a greater likelihood of attracting that user than your dealership will if you’re not putting the work in.

What will these visual indicators look like?

We have no idea. To date, Google has remained pretty tight-lipped as to any design, making it clear that – even when they’re rolled out – it will be considered a testing phase. But still, don’t underestimate how impactful a visual indicator could be in influencing car-buyers. Put on your consumer hat for a moment. Imagine you’re on Amazon, or an aggregate travel site. Are you clicking on the product or service with the five-star review, or the one-star review? Now, imagine losing sales because you haven’t properly optimized your dealership’s site to tick those seven boxes pertinent to the Page Experience Update taking place in 5 months…even though you had a year to do so.

So, there you have it. The first tip of 2021. If you’re new to the series, remember that you can find all of our videos – complete with transcripts by visiting us at Otherwise, be sure to join us next Thursday, and every Thursday, right here…on Just the Tip.