The time has come: Google’s Page Experience update is weeks away from arriving on desktop. The update will have all the current ranking signals of the mobile version, minus the mobile-friendliness metric.
We briefly touched on the subject in November, when Google dropped the announcement three months ahead of the rollout. And it appears we’re getting the same message we did back then.
“Do not expect drastic changes.” Just like the mobile version of the Page Experience update, which many SEO specialists have deemed anti-climatic at best, the desktop update will not have a dramatic impact on search results.
But regardless of how the page experience update has played out for you or how you feel about it, Google still wants you to optimize within its parameters. As we’ve said in the past, the search engine giant believes that prioritizing page experience ranking signals contributes to your overall ranking efforts, despite its seemingly minor effects.
The desktop update will start rolling out in February and should be complete sometime in March. Before that time comes, SEO expert Barry Schwartz advises those who have been working on their mobile pages to redirect their focus to their desktop pages.
So as a reminder, the same three Core Web Vitals metrics and their associated thresholds will apply to the desktop version. Other aspects of page experience signals will also remain.
Factors influencing desktop page experience:
1. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – Measures the time it takes for the largest content element to load on the screen
2. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – Measures the visual stability of the page
3. First Input Delay (FID) – Measures the time it takes for the site to react to the first visitor interaction
4. HTTPS Security – Safeguarding the integrity and confidentiality of data between websites and browsers
5. No Intrusive Interstitials – Involves the accessibility of content to the user
The first three factors (the Core Web Vitals) make up the pillars of page experience. To get a ranking boost, all three qualities must be met:
- Responsiveness – How fast do the visual elements on the page appear on screen?
- Loading performance – How fast does the page react to user input?
- Visual Stability – Is the layout stable? Do elements move around on the page while loading?
Since page experience was first introduced, Google has pushed the same big idea to marketers: Do not optimize to get ranked; optimize to offer users a better experience. The increase in rankings should follow.
While we believe this reminder is important in the grand scheme of things, the consensus is that the upcoming rollout is nothing to worry about. So keep following best practices, stay on top of your Core Web Vitals, and you should be ready for February.
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Is Keyword Density a Ranking Factor?: In case you were still wondering, the answer remains: Keyword density does not affect your ranking performance. Google’s John Mueller has had the same position on keyword density since 2013, but somehow, the debate persists to this day. Just before the end of the year, someone started a Reddit thread with the question, “In your opinion, is keyword density still a seo factor in 2021?” (sic) Muller jumped in with a solid “no.” You are likely already aware of this, but we think the topic is worth revisiting every now and again. The SEO community sure loves to.
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