Planning for 2021: Google Page User Experience

The recently announced Google Ranking factor will not be live until sometime in 2021.  However, SteerPoint is already taking these page experience factors into account on the new sites we are building – and, the current client sites we are refreshing and updating. The crux of the Google Page Experience is this: if Google thinks your website users will have a poor experience on your pages, your site may not rank as high as it currently does.  Many of the page considerations are not new to us – do the pages load quickly?; is it mobile-friendly?; does the site have a secured domain (HTTPS)?  These are all key factors in the health of your site.

contentNew to their evaluation is a set of refined measurements called Core Web Vitals. They are a collection of user-centered metrics that dig deeper into ‘page experience”.  Google has indicated the following 3 categories will help to score site experience once these algorithms are totally in place:

Loading Performance. (aka LCP)

Interactivity. (aka FID)

Visual Stability. (aka CLS)

Google says page experience specifically is not a ranking score, but rather, each element within has its own weights and rankings in the overall Google ranking algorithm.


LOADING.  LCP stands for “Largest Contentful Paint”.  To provide the optimal user experience, loading – or, LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.

INTERACTIVITY. FID is an acronym for “First Input Delay”.  This measures the time from when a user first interacts with a page until the time the browser is actually able to respond to the interaction.  Sites with strong performance need to have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.

VISUAL STABILITY. CLS represents “Cumulative Layout Shift”.  This is a NEW metric – that reviews the stability of the layout as images, buttons and ads move around the page.  In short, does the layout shift and adjust in a way that results in a poor user experience?   For a good user experience, pages should maintain a CLS of less than 0.1. (We will learn more once it arrives!)


With all these new measurements waiting to be fully implemented, Google continues to make it clear that great content still ranks highly – even with a poor or marginal page experience.  A good page experience does not override having great and relevant content.  Although, in situations where there are multiple page sources that have similar content, page experience will become much more important for visibility and search.


As to exactly when these new factors will be partially or fully implemented, we are keeping our eyes and ears open.  These are the types of details that we enjoy understanding.  We review the results of rollouts like these and test our theories.  Then we implement incremental site changes and constantly monitor the impact.

The rules of the game are constantly changing, and we pride ourselves in keeping pace and maximizing the effectiveness of our clients’ websites.