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Financial marketers get the heads up on Google’s page experience update

Google's future state

In an unusually open move, Google has given forewarning that it will be rolling out a core algorithm update sometime in 2021. This uniquely heralded update will incorporate a greater focus on the page experience a site offers as a key ranking signal. So what does this announcement mean for financial marketers and what do you need to do to prepare for its roll-out?

What is page experience?

According to Google, page experience is “a set of signals that measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its information value.”. These ranking signals will combine the recently launched Core Web Vitals with existing user experience signals such as mobile-friendliness, safe browsing and HTTPS, aiming to improve how the overall page experience is then assessed.

Core Web Vitals are an update to the former speed report within Google Search Console. The report, now known as the ‘Core Web Vitals’ report, uses data from the new Web Vitals engine that Google released earlier this May. There are three new key metrics within this new-look report that will be critical to potential page experience success:

  1. Largest contentful paint (LCP): The time it takes for a page’s main content to load. An ideal LCP measurement is 2.5 seconds or faster. The largest element is typically an image or video, or perhaps a large block-level text element. This is important because it tells the reader that the URL is actually loading.
  2. First input delay (FID): The time from when a user first interacts with your page (when they clicked a link, tapped on a button, and so on) to the time when the browser responds to that interaction. This measurement is taken from whatever interactive element that the user first clicks. An ideal measurement is less than 100 seconds. This is important on pages where the user needs to do something because this is when the page has become interactive.
  3. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): The amount that the page layout shifts during the loading phase. The score is rated from 0–1, where zero means no shifting and 1 means the most shifting. This is important because having pages elements shift while a user is trying to interact with it is a bad user experience.

When will Google’s page experience update roll-out?

Google has categorically stated that given the world’s focus on dealing with the impact of Covid-19, this update will not be happening until 2021. They have also stated that they will provide at least six months notice prior to rolling out, with no immediate action needed. Rather, this announcement is being made to help provide webmasters, and financial marketers, with the tools and time they need to prepare for a world where ‘page experience’ is an accepted key ranking signal. 

This announcement is being made to help provide webmasters, and financial marketers, with the tools and time they need to prepare for a world where ‘page experience’ is an accepted key ranking signal.

What should financial marketers do to prepare for this future update?

We don’t yet know how significant the page experience update will be, but we do know we can start getting prepared. First step: get comfortable with both existing and upcoming critical ranking factors – from LCP and FID to mobile-friendliness and safe browsing. Now is the time to work with your developers (they will be your best friend!) to ensure your site provides the best user experience it can. Use the tools that Google is providing: explore the Core Web Vitals report in detail and ideally plan work to improve your site’s scores across all elements. Aside from optimising your page experience, don’t forget that content still remains king. Rudy Galfi, the product lead on the Google Search ecosystem team, confirmed that content will still be the most important factor within the algorithm. So while it’s wise to get ready for this update from a page experience perspective, make sure you also have your content foundations in place first.

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Annabel Hodges
Annabel is a digital marketer and seasoned writer with 15 years' experience working with global agencies and finance brands. With a particular love for SEO, analytics and all things data; Annabel draws on her industry experience and enjoys writing about growth and marketing solutions that tackle the challenges of finance marketing in a holistic manner.