Updated June 19, 2021.
Page Speed. Core Web Vitals. Page Experience. How Google refers to this has evolved dramatically over the last couple of years.
Google advised on June 16 that the Page Experience updated has started to roll out globally. They advised it will take until the end of August to complete the rollout, which is much longer then it usually takes.
Recently a new menu appeared in Google Search Console (GSC) with the title of Experience.
Currently made up of:
- Page experience
- Core web vitals
- Mobile Usability (Google has not decided on sentence case or title case, but I digress)
Let’s explore these 3 items in this new menu.
1. Page experience
Under Page experience we can see 5 items listed as page experience signals. These are:
- Core web vitals
- Mobile Usability
- Security issues
- Ad Experience
One of the sites we work on is doing 100,000+ sessions monthly of organic Google traffic (clearly Google likes the site) and greets us with the following:
All of the Page Speed Insights issues have been cleared, and it is currently going through the validation process which says it can take up to 28 days. So if you are seeing issues inside of Google Search Console, make sure your site is passing in Page Speed Insights and start the validation process in GSC if necessary.
Another site shows green ticks of approval across all of the page experience signals. Hooray!
So surely we have pleased the almighty Google? Think again. Instead we get this message:
Everybody should already be passing all of the items listed under Page Experience, except for Core Web Vitals.
This means that you should already be using the secure HTTPS format, using a mobile friendly theme, have no security issues on the site (been hacked, sending malware to visitors etc) and not completely overwhelming visitors wit ads.
What we are left with, and what is the primary focus at the time of writing is Core Web Vitals. After you make changes to your site it takes Google about 28 days to update its reporting, so you will not immediately see changes to the reporting in Google Search Console after you improve your Core Web Vitals.
For now I recommend focusing on getting and maintaining good scores on Google’s Page Speed Insights tool (PSI). However don’t obsess with trying to go from a score of 98 to 100. Once you in the green zone on PSI, your time is best spent on other areas.
2. Core web vitals
When you go to the core web vitals link in Google Search Console you are currently greeted with links to mobile and desktop reporting. If you already have your Core Web Vitals house in order from using Page Speed Insights, there may not be much to see in this area.
When there are no core web vitals errors to show here you will see a number of URLs that have been deemed to be good, and with no errors that should be all of them.
If you have your hosting sorted out so that your site is on a powerful, reliable server and have page caching working – and all of our clients do – the most common error we have encountered in this part of Google Search Console is Content Layout Shift (CLS) as shown in the image below.
Occasionally we run into something related to the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) which is essentially the time it takes for most of the content on the page to be visible to the page visitor. Usually this can be fixed up pretty easily if your hosting and caching are on point.
Some issues encountered before have been pages where large file size images (2 megabytes or more) were accidentally and unknowingly uploaded to the page. These issues are picked up by software tools used when auditing sites.
3. Mobile Usability
Most modern WordPress themes are now built to handle mobile users first. Several years ago websites only gave a passing thought to mobile users, yet now we live in a mobile-centric world.
These errors do still occasionally occur, but they are pretty rare these days. Mostly likely you will not have any errors here. They could look like the screenshot below.
I hope you enjoyed this brief look at the new Experience area found inside of Google Search Console.