Yes, a lot has changed since Google’s Page Experience update has rolled out in early September. It changed the whole way how the search engine evaluates websites. It especially created a new emphasis on user experience signals. Patrick Stox, the product advisor for technical SEO and brand ambassador at Ahrefs, noted in his session at SMX Next that some important alterations to this update took place in the months following. This continues to leave many SEOs confused. Well, a website development company plays a pivotal role in enhancing the page experience.
“Safe browsing is already out,” he said, “And the cumulative layout shift has changed a bit. It’s the five seconds where the most shifting occurs. Google has also removed AMP from Top stories requirements and many news sites are looking at dropping it.”
One of the key aspects of Page Experience update is Core Web Vitals and this is also one of the most hotly debated topics. SEOs and agencies are questioning how big of a difference these metrics make in terms of rankings, leading many, such as Stox, to take a deeper look at the data.
“We looked at about 5.2 million individual pages, which I think is the largest data set that’s been studied now,” he said. His study revealed that only 11.4% of them met the recommended standards for Core Web Vitals.
Here arises the question: Is Core Web Vitals optimization necessary?
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“Maybe these are small ranking factors,” said Stox, “But I think if you argue this from an SEO standpoint, you’re going to fail. Many Google employees have now said these are small factors, that these are tiebreaker signals.”
“It’s going to be hard to get any prioritization when it’s not going to have a huge impact on SEO,” he added.
It is true that Core Web Vitals point to some key principles of page experience. Even if they may fail to provide the ranking boosts, SEOs hope for these signals to point to aspects of user experience. These they think are necessary if marketers want to convert more visitors. As Google continues to add these kinds of signals to its algorithms, your site’s visibility is much more likely to improve over time.
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Stox mentions the five concepts that marketers should understand and prioritize when optimizing with the Page Experience update in mind.
Smaller is faster
The largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures perceived load speed. This is an important user-centric metric and is the point where the main content on a page has loaded.
It shouldn’t surprise us that users want their content loaded as quickly as possible. But in order to do so, marketers must work with the development teams to cut down resource sizes. The smaller the resource, the faster the page will load. This will also higher the LCP score that the page will receive.
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Server location matters
The location of your site’s servers has a direct impact on the page experience. And this is the reason why Stox recommends marketers and site owners use a content delivery network (CDN). These geographically distributed server networks are capable of working together to enhance user experience.
“Pretty much every article will tell you to use a CDN,” said Stox. “Simply, location matters. The connection time that it takes, the amount of time that it takes to get things from a server.”
He also added that “If you have copies of your site all over the world, that time is cut out.”
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CDNs are effective for large sites because they enable them to draw in resources from locations all over the world. This ensures your content gets to searchers when they need it.
Use the same server
Stox denoted that marketers should decide to use a single server as far as possible when improving page experience signals. Every additional server connected will add further delay in rendering, which could lead to slow load times on pages.
“Keep as much as you want or as much as you can on the same server,” he said. “Every connection to a different location takes additional time, additional round trips.”
“If you are going to use additional servers, you need DNS-prefetch and preconnect,” he added.
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Adding preconnect and DNS-prefetch code serves as an alternative that can help sites establish early connections between servers.
Ensure caching is set up correctly
Setting up effective caching provides a good page experience over the long run. Stox recommends SEOs and site owners across the globe use this function regularly to put less strain on servers. This will help even if the first page takes slightly longer to load.
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Prioritize items in page resource loading
Web pages should load many resources before users can view and engage with them. But it must be understood that some resources are more important than others.
The goal here should be to load the things people see first and then load secondary resources. Structuring your resource loading with inline coding can help you deliver your most important content to users in a faster manner.
“When I say ‘inline’ CSS, what I mean is taking part of the CSS file and putting it in the HTML,” he said. “So when the HTML is being downloaded, I get the CSS that I need for the visible page. I don’t have to wait for another CSS file to download for that to be processed and the render to start.”
“We’re going to be prioritizing things that are needed and the render can just happen a little earlier this way,” he added.
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It is expected that ultimately, platforms like Google will become advanced enough that SEOs won’t have to worry about these technical aspects of page experience: “I think the platforms are going to solve a lot of these speed issues for you so that people won’t have to worry about this as much. SEO’s won’t have to bother devs and devs won’t necessarily have to focus on it,” mentions Stax.
Do remember that the future is still a long way off and hence optimizing for Core Web Vitals, even if they’re just a tiebreaker can bring audiences to your site instead of a competitor’s. Do get in touch with us for any kind of web development and page experience booster services, as we are the top website development company around, who can definitely help you with this.