In a recent poll we ran on our LinkedIn account, more than 60% of those who responded thought that Page Experience and Core Web Vitals were the same. While the two are closely related to one another, they’re not the same thing. Core Web Vitals is simply one way of measuring the subjective experience of a user on a website. Page Experience is much broader and boils down to how customers experience your website. Core Web Vitals might have been the tipping point to get “Page Experience” to the top of everyone’s to-do list, but it’s so much bigger than that – and growing. The time is now for customer-centric, collaborative solutions that think about the goal of a customer’s journey on your website. To explore that further, Botify recently hosted a webinar with Brian Strauss, Contentsquare’s Global VP of Solutions, and Marco Tornow, Director of SEO at Jellyfish, along with our team here at Botify.
“What Is Page Experience And How Does It Power Your Website” is now available on-demand and covers the most critical elements of the user experience you should be paying attention to and how to drive impact on your website by focusing on these essentials. We’ve distilled the key takeaways from the chat into this post so you can easily start actioning some of the recommendations from the webinar!
When it comes to measuring your Page Experience, two things matter most: conversions and your customers (or prospects). If users have trouble using your website due to page speed, interruption marketing, page shifts, or the like, you will see this reflected in conversions. However, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to having a good experience as Brian remarks, “It’s a very subjective experience and can be measured in a lot of different ways, but I think the one thing that we always need to remember is that the customer determines how good the experience is – it’s not just a set of metrics.” He notes that he’s seen numerous examples where sites are lightning-fast with no technical issues throughout his career. However, users still have a poor experience on the site that reflects in the conversions. Hence, you “really need to put the customer at the center rather than an arbitrary set of ‘vital statistics.’ Some of the definitions of success change depending on where [the customer] is in their journey.”
So how can SEOs make an impact on page experience if it’s subjective and even the metrics can change based on various factors? The key is to focus, as Brian states, “on finding the small segments who have trouble. They represent small chunks of the population at any given moment, but that over time their success or failure adds up to seven and eight figures worth of revenue.” One of the easiest ways to find these users are through heat mapping tools or customer interviews.
When you’ve identified a problem in the user experience that you can fix, finding the best way to do that can be challenging. Our panelists suggest that one of the most straightforward approaches is looking at issues across page templates so that you’re solving problems minor across a wider body of pages versus just the single page you may have identified as problematic.
Marco talked about how one of the first questions they try to answer for new clients is, “what are the templates that the site is using across that journey, and what might be the page elements that are critical.” Once you’ve identified that, you can start to narrow in on what changes need to be made. Another approach Marco called out was looking at “what are the 20% of the pages that drive 80% of the traffic and revenue. You can then understand how those page templates compare to competitors and see technical issues that they might influence the SERPs as a result.”
During the webinar, we polled our audience on who in their organization owns the user experience, and 57% said that it belongs to web development. Of course, in many enterprise organizations, web development may be its own function, sit inside of the product team, or even be a part of the marketing team. This can even further cloud any clarity on who owns the overall user experience. Brain said that the results of our poll were pretty typical of what he’s seen in the industry, “Page load speed-centric measurements, web development does own those to a degree, but in some cases, you’ll have marketing owning the experience in terms of lead gen, and then once you get into the transactional phase, it’s a separate team. It’s a lot.”
When there are so many different departments involved in user experience, how do you unite them and make sure the right stakeholders are involved? One of the suggestions from our panelists was creating a “steering committee” for the user experience that includes members from multiple departments, including marketing, product, CX, and any other relevant functions. This can help when there are challenges that affect various teams, such as an example Marco pointed out: “if marketing wants to add another tool to the website and it needs to get a pixel implemented, [they can say to the steering committee], well, this is the tool, this is the expected impact to my page, etc.” This approach allows a more proactive, collaborative approach to an often siloed process. Brian brought up another example where “[Imagine] a usability issue where the API is working exactly the way it was designed there’s no issues, and yet it still presents a challenge to some users. Then you need to go and talk to the people who build and operate those pages.”
The importance of user experience is only going to become more and more important as consumer behavior continues to evolve, new channels and devices for search emerge, and businesses become more digitally dominant than ever before. In order to stay ahead of the curve, it’s essential to make sure that Page Experience is a part of your broader SEO strategy – not just a box to check as part of an upcoming Google algorithm update.