For many years, affiliates have been focused on creating the best quality content to out-rank their competitors in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS).
But the biggest search provider of them all, the mighty Google, now expects more than just great content and wants to see that its top-ranking sites deliver a seamless user experience, too.
So, while content and other traditional SEO factors – backlinks, text length, meta descriptions – are still important, UX and performance must be prioritized.
The summer of discontent:
Google made this paradigm shift in what it considers among its most important ranking factors following its Core Web Vitals update that it rolled out in early summer.
CWV is a set of guidance for the quality signals that Googles deems to be absolutely critical for a website to deliver a great users experience, across both desktop and mobile.
Let’s take a closer look at what these are:
Core Web Vitals explained:
Largest Contentful Paint – this measures how fast the largest elements on the page (images, videos, etc) load and appear on the website. Google requires the LCP to occur within 2.5 seconds of the page starting to load.
Cumulative Layout Shift – this is to make sure the website does not have any confusing movements that might impact how the user engages and consumers the content. Google reacquires a CLS score of less than 0.1.
First Input Delay – this indicates how responsive a website’s pages are when a user accesses them for the first time as well as how fast the site’s browser can provide results for the user. Google requires an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
Of course, it goes without saying that an affiliate’s website must be mobile-friendly. Thankfully, Google offers a handy tool to test the mobile-friendliness of your website.
To get the best score, affiliates might have to consider redesigning their website with a mobile-first approach or rework any areas that are flagged as not being mobile-friendly.
Google also expects your website to be secure and that pages are served over HTTPS. Finally, it wants to see that the content on the page is easily accessible to the user.
Five tips to improve page experience:
So, you have run Google’s tests and your site does not score well when it comes to page experience. What should you do? Here are five quick tips to get you started.
- Implement lazy loading
- Optimise and compress images
- Provide correct dimensions for images and embeds
- Improve your server response time
While content and links are often seen as a quick fix for affiliates looking to improve their rankings, page and user experience is more of a long-term commitment.
It takes proper consideration and thought, and in most cases will require working with a designer and experienced developer to implement the changes needed to deliver the best user experience.
But ultimately, this is what Google expects of the sites it ranks the highest so if affiliates want to compete and succeed, they must prioritise improving the UX of their sites.