Here’s Why SEOs Shouldn’t Worry About Google’s Page Experience Update

The “factors” included in this new algorithm are features proactive and strategic SEOs have been working on for years.​​​​​​​

Written by Jacob Hurwith
Published on Sep. 22, 2021
Here’s Why SEOs Shouldn’t Worry About Google’s Page Experience Update
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Everyone loves a fast site. No one searches the web and stays for long on a site that loads slowly, doesn’t work, is littered with pop-ups or isn’t secure. Forgive my bluntness, but to most of us in the digital world, a site like that is a dealbreaker.

As such, the Google page experience update, which is rolling out as we speak, will be much ado about nothing  for sites that have already implemented basic SEO and internet principles. Here’s why.

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What Is the Page Experience Update?

As early as May 2020, soon after Google released its Core Web Vitals, the search giant announced an upcoming search ranking change that would incorporate — you guessed it — factors that affect a user’s page experience. They include:

  1. Core Web Vitals (speed)

  2. Mobile-friendly (experience)

  3. HTTPS (security)

  4. No intrusive interstitials (pop-ups)

Due to COVID and other delays, the update did not roll out until June 2021 and is expected to be completed by September 2021. Before moving along, I realize some people may be panicking if their site violates or isn’t strong in one of these categories. While I would not worry, you can browse the following resources to see how to improve.


Many Think This Update Is a Big Deal

There are not that many people on my side of the argument, and their opinion deserves to be heard as well.

First, Google rarely announces something before it happens unless it’s a big deal. Yes, Google has done this recently with core algorithm updates, but even with those big updates that come out three to four times a year, it doesn’t share what actually changed. And remember, Google is altering its algorithm hundreds of times a year. As such, when it pre-announces something more than a year in advance, I can see why many people take notice.

Next, Google added a Core Web Vitals report in Google Search Console — which any good technical SEO would notice. After all, if you keep seeing red in any GSC report, you’d be right to worry.

In addition, numerous marketers came out with their own takes on the page experience update and how vital it was to work on the five items mentioned above. Neil Patel talks about how important the update is to smaller sites. DBS interactive, an award-winning digital agency, had this to say about the current update:

“What impact will the page experience update have on your lead generation strategy if your website doesn’t perform well enough? The financial consequences could be dire for businesses with slow or poorly designed websites, as they now risk a dramatic loss in search traffic and brand visibility that could negatively impact their sales pipeline growth — which is bad news for the company’s bottom line.”

DBS and Patel could be right, but let me share why I think this update is overrated for any site that has followed basic SEO and web development principles.

Why SEO Managers Shouldn’t Worry About Google’s Page Experience Update

  1. Google said there would be no sudden ranking changes.
  2. Google said the speed factor will be small.
  3. Google said page experience would have only a slight edge over tie-breaker scenarios.
  4. Good SEOs and developers have worked on these factors for years.
  5. All these factors are better for the user.


There Will Be No Sudden Ranking Changes

More often than not, when Google releases something brand new that is supposed to be big, you see immediate changes. SEOs feel this pressure every time Google releases a core algorithm update. However, Google said multiple times that the page experience Update will roll out slowly and that there will not be any sudden ranking drops.

These two statements indicate that either it will not be a large change to the current algorithm or that all these factors were already included. Regardless, good SEOs do not have to worry — because they’ve already been laying the proper groundwork.


The Speed Factor Will Be Small

Since Google is tying much of this update back to Core Web Vitals, which focuses on site speed, many SEOs are deeming this the speed update. Earlier this year, Gary Illyes, John Mueller and Martin Splitt all indicated on the “Search Off the Record” podcast (a great free SEO resource) that the speed aspect of this update will be small.


Page Experience Is Only Slightly More Important Than Tie-Breaker Scenarios

HTTPS and speed were intended to be big updates in Google’s eyes. However, after multiple tests and iterations, they decided to dial back its power to only tie-breaker scenarios. Mueller then clarified this when he said, "It is a ranking factor, and it's more than a tie-breaker, but it also doesn't replace relevance."

While these situations happen more often than users think, there are still hundreds of other factors counted beforehand, such as content, user intent, links and many more.Given how far down this factor is, many SEOs should spend their time focusing on the user and providing the best experience.


Good SEO and Developers Already Work on Speed

A faster and more secure site is ideal for all. Especially if you work on “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) sites — or websites that impact a person’s health, happiness, finances and safety — you’d better ensure your site is secure.

Again, those SEOs who were not working on these items and worked on sites that could really hurt a user don’t deserve to be SEOs in the first place. For all else, turn off your OKR-brain for a second and treat your users as human beings, just like you always should.


These Factors Are Better for the User

To recap, the five factors included in the page experience update are Core Web Vitals, mobile-friendliness, HTTPS and no intrusive interstitials. It would be very hard to argue that any of these factors are not good for the user. Therefore, shouldn’t we as SEOs and developers have already been working to improve all of these? When it comes to SEO, what’s good for the user is good for SEO.

Hopefully, like the good marketer that you are, you’ve been focusing on the user from the beginning and don’t have to worry about this “big” page experience update.

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