In May 2021 Google will introduce a new search ranking signal based on page experience. What this means is that page experience (defined by loading performance, interactivity, and visual stability) will now have an impact on your Google search rankings. Google has also indicated that they are working on adding a visual indicator (e.g., a badge) to search results to identify pages that meet the criteria for good page experience.

This is a major change in Google policy that is widely considered to be good for the web, but which carries serious implications for existing websites. Good site performance can no longer be an afterthought, it is now an SEO necessity.

Core Web Vitals and Page Experience

The Core Web Vitals are the metrics that will be used to measure page experience:

  • Largest Contentful Paint(LCP) measures loading performance. To provide a good user experience, LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.
  • First Input Delay(FID) measures interactivity. To provide a good user experience, pages should have a FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift(CLS) measures visual stability. To provide a good user experience, pages should maintain a CLS of less than 0.1.

Core Web Vitals data for

Page Experience Audit

Google’s new Measure tool has been used to audit the performance of three popular pages. The Measure tool uses Google Lighthouse to generate Web Vitals data and other metrics. We’ll be focusing on the performance metrics and recommendations only.

Home Page Audit

The home page is the entry point to the site, it’s critical that Google ranks it highly.

Article Page Audit

The Product Liability Insurance page contains a CTA shortcode, TOC block and text.

Data Page Audit

The Safest Cities in America page contains content images, tables and text.


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Further Reading

Notes on the new page experience signal

See Timing for bringing page experience to Google Search and the Core Web Vitals & Page Experience FAQ for more information.
Here are some key points:

  • The new page experience signals combine Core Web Vitals with our existing search signals including mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS-security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines. We plan to test a visual indicator that highlights pages in search results that have great page experience.
  • The change for non-AMP content to become eligible to appear in the mobile Top Stories feature in Search will also roll out in May 2021. Any page that meets the Google News content policies will be eligible and we will prioritize pages with great page experience, whether implemented using AMP or any other web technology, as we rank the results.
  • We continue to support AMP content in Google Search. If you publish an AMP version of your content, Google Search will link to that cache-optimized AMP version to help optimize delivery to users, just as is the case today.