The 2021 Page Experience Update — How will it affect your donors?
Google is set to release an update to their algorithm this month (May 2021) that will include a factor called Page Experience. While this may seem like a topic applicable to only your team’s developers, it is important for organization leaders to understand what these changes are, how they will affect your fundraising campaigns, and what procedures will need to be implemented on an ongoing basis in order to continuously maximize the performance of your website.
So what is Page Experience, and why should I be concerned?
Page Experience will include all the ways users interact with a web page and how great or not-so-great the experience is for them. Part of this aspect is already in use as Google currently takes into account things such as mobile friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS, and intrusive interstitial guidelines. It is further going to include, however, Loading, Interactivity, and Visual Stability. I won’t get too into the technical weeds, so the following are definitions of each facet:
- Loading: Measures perceived load speed. This is how long the main content of the page takes to load.
- Interactivity: This is the length of time from when a user first interacts with a page, such as a click, to when the browser begins processing that interaction.
- Visual Stability: This has to do with preventing unexpected movement of page content.
Over the past year we have seen A LOT of increased movement to online giving, and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Understanding this, you can see how important this Google update is so that your donors or members have a great experience when they come to your website. These algorithm updates will affect your website’s ranking in the Google Search Results pages, and with a website that is not optimized correctly, a website ranking can drop. It is also good to point out here that 75% of people who search on Google never go past the first page of results.
So let’s give a little detail on what each of the three facets needs to be compliant.
- Loading: By Google’s standards, the content or largest visible image or text block should load within 2.5 seconds. Anything over 4 seconds is considered poor.
- Interactivity: This measures how long a page takes to become interactive. The timing of this should be less than 100 milliseconds, and a poor standard is over 300 milliseconds.
- Visual Stability: Sites should strive for a “stability” score of 0.1, while a poor score is anything over .25. This score helps quantify how often users experience unexpected layout shifts when using a web page. Have you ever gone to a web page and were about to click on something and it moved unexpectedly, causing you to click something you did not mean to? That is what this is.
How do I find out how each of these facets currently work on my site, and how do I fix them?
If you do not have experience in these types of technicalities, then your webmaster or web team will. This will make sense to them, and they will know how to optimize your site to comply with these updates. A few resources that you can use, however, to test your website and gather more detail are Google’s Online mobile-friendly test tool and the Page Speed Insights tool. These tools will help with things such as responsiveness, mobile usability, page load speeds, and security.
What does this really mean for my donors or members?
In 2020, mobile devices generated almost 51% of website traffic. At Nexus Direct we have seen clients’ mobile traffic sometimes get up to 70%–80%. These numbers really should be the focus, because, if a donor or member runs into issues when your site is trying to load a conversion page, or the person has a bad user experience, then you could lose that conversion. Your website design should be simple and responsive so that it looks good on smaller screens.
Google has also mentioned that if there is a delay of just one second of page loading time, your conversion rates can decrease by 70%. That is a lot of potential donations or members not converting simply because they cannot reach your pages in a timely manner.
As mentioned, your web team will understand what needs to be done to apply corrections to your site so that these three new facets of the algorithm update can be initiated. However, while these corrections can be applied from a technical aspect, you should not forget that it’s the actual content that is the most important. Everything starts with great content that is relevant and engaging. Do your donors and members interact with your content, do they consume it, do they find it important? Knowing that is vital, and optimizing your site, looking at analytics, and seeing how donors and members navigate through your site can all tell you how engaging your content is. As Google has said, “Great page experience doesn’t override having great page content.”