Google Search Tips For Managed IT Service Companies
How frustrating is it when you go to a website and it takes forever to load? Visiting many websites on your mobile phone is every bit as frustrating if the site hasn’t been optimized for a smaller viewing screen. Underperforming websites rank poorly with Google — and this ultimately results in lost sales. Google recently announced updates that take into account a variety of metrics that rely heavily on UX design for ranking purposes. This is good news for the user experience, but it can present a challenge for MSPs who do not understand how these changes could negatively impact business revenue.
What Is UX Design?
UX Design stands for User Experience Design and is the process of shaping user behavior. UX design is used to improve the usability of a site: essentially, the ease of interaction for the viewer. Improving UX helps boost customer satisfaction with digital products, ensuing that these websites are useful and a delight to interact with.
According to Google, “the page experience signal measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page.” Their recently-announced changes enhance the experience for users beyond the simple value of providing the information that consumers were seeking. These changes utilize UX design as a metric for ranking purposes and will help websites evolve beyond user expectations — particularly on mobile devices.
Optimizing For Quality
For a number of years, webmasters focused on page speed. While how quickly a page loads on your device of choice is still important, however, this is only one aspect of the equation that makes for great user experience. Consumers aren’t tech experts so perception becomes reality. That means that even if a page loads efficiently according to standardized metrics, if it feels slow to users, that is the experience they will take away from the interaction. The long term success of any website is how it is optimized for quality, not just speed. Google has developed a number of metrics and tools to help developers, businesses, and marketers optimize their websites to meet the expectations of users.
Core Web Vitals
How do you measure the quality of the user experience? This is a complex question and involves a number of important considerations. Google developed a common set of signals called Core Web Vitals which includes; the loading experience, the interactive experience, and the visual stability of website pages. These metrics are framed around four key questions.
- When the user puts in their search criteria, did the server respond, and did the navigation start successfully?
- Has enough content on a specific page loaded that the user can engage with and, is it useful?
- Can the user interact with the page in a usable way or is the page too busy?
- Is it a delightful experience for the user where all interactions are smooth and natural free of lag time or items that could be perceived as junk?
Google Launches Three Focal Points
Google identified three specific focal points in 2020 into their metrics for ranking purposes to include loading, visual stability, and interactivity.
- LCP, or Largest Contentful Paint
- FID, or First Input Delay
- CLS, or Cumulative Layout Shift
This metric looks at the perceived load speed of a page as it reassures the user this page is useful to their search. It is important to measure what the user sees on their preferred device, whereas older metrics didn’t necessarily correspond to what the user actually experienced. A good score to aim for is 2.5 seconds which measures the 75th percentile of page loads across multiple devices.
This metric looks at the user’s first impression which determines the difference between them staying on a site and becoming an ongoing loyal customer. Whether they tap on a button, click on a link, or something else again, it measures the time the browser responds to their interaction on the site. A good score to aim for is a delay of fewer than 100 milliseconds across mobile and desktop devices.
If pages move while the user is reading them, not only is it annoying, it can be damaging when something suddenly moves on a page. You may be about to click one link and end up on a completely different page because the link moved. CLS measures the total of all individual shifts on a page and calculates the score by looking at the viewport size and movement of any elements that appear unstable. A good score to aim for is 0.1 at the 75th percentile after the page load – anything below needs improvement.
How Are Metrics Measured?
Performance metrics can be measured either in a laboratory using tools in a controlled environment to simulate a page load or in a real-life scenario with users actually loading a page and interacting with it.
Anytime developers are creating new features, it can be difficult to test with real users. This leads to testing in a lab environment first to prevent some performance regressions. However, this doesn’t necessarily reflect the user’s reality which makes real-life feedback important as a site’s performance can vary depending on the user’s device, their bandwidth, and how they interact with a particular page. A lab test won’t capture the differences in personalized content or targeted advertising making real-world feedback vitally important to the owner of the website.
Combination of Metrics Used in Ranking Factors
Along with existing metrics, Google wants to know if your page is optimized for mobile devices, is the site harmless to visitors, is the site using a secure connection and also asks the question, does it refrain from nasty pop-ups? Each of these answers will help determine the overall usability of your website — and ultimately, how often Google recommends your site to visitors in the future.
Optimizing websites to make the most of the changes in how Google ranks webpages is both challenging and confusing for most MSPs. Ulistic, as a marketing specialist to MSPs, understands these changes to Google Ranking Metrics and offers expert advice on how you as an MSP can optimize your own website and those of your customers to rank higher in Google. Contact the Ulistic team at 863-451-3088 to schedule your complimentary initial consultation and learn how Ulistic can help keep your marketing pipeline filled with qualified sales leads.
Stuart Crawford serves as Creative Director and CEO with Sebring, FL Ulistic, a specialty MSP Marketing firm focused on information technology marketing and business development. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience pertaining to how technology business owners and IT firms can use marketing as a vehicle to obtain success.