Managing a Shopify website is difficult enough without having to keep track of what Google is up to. However, if you want to stay on top of your organic traffic and do everything in your power to grab those page one positions, you will want to read up on Google and the new SEO guidelines that are rolling out later this year.

You may have heard about Google updates in the past and never really put much thought into whether or not they would affect your SEO, but the new page experience update that is on the horizon may hold more weight. While no one knows for sure how impactful this update will be, some experts are certain that it could spell doom for certain outdated websites that aren’t paying enough attention to user experience.

If you want to make sure your eCommerce store is still standing strong this May after Google rolls out its next algorithm update, this is the guide for you. Below you will find important insight into what Google is looking for out of a professional eCommerce website, and what you need to do in order to weather the storm.

What is Page Experience?

So what exactly is page experience and why is Google harping on it in this new update?

Actually, while they haven’t been directly calculated into Google’s search algorithm yet, these metrics have been considered ranking signals for quite some time. Mobile visibility, layout shifts during the loading process, how soon a user can interact with important on-screen elements. All of these factors have been on the periphery of SEO for years, but now may be coming into the forefront

Ultimately it boils down to user experience. Google’s mission is to rank pages that best meet the needs of its users. The more reliable Google is in serving relevant content, the more likely users are to continue to use the service. It’s just that simple.

This means that it is in Google’s best interest to prioritize high-quality content whenever possible. It’s not only about using the right keywords in the right places anymore. Google wants to know that your Shopify store is actually providing users with a beneficial experience. Can they find what they are looking for easily? Does your navigation make sense or is it confusing? How quickly does a product page load and can the “add to cart” button be clicked easily on smaller mobile devices? All of these different user experience factors may seem trite compared to something like using the right page title or keyword, but not to Google.

In fact, these kinds of user experience factors are what Google is pushing in this new SEO update. They are creating even more stringent SEO guidelines that website owners and digital marketers will need to follow if they intend on getting on page one.

Understanding and acting on these changes may be what separates your eCommerce business from your competitors once this update goes live in May 2021, so it is important that you educate yourself on what your website needs in terms of search engine optimization to ensure that everything checks out.

Understanding Google’s Web Vitals and What They Mean For Your Shoppers

There are three wordy terms you are bound to hear more and more of in the coming months as it relates to your Shopify SEO: Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, and Cumulative Layout Shift. While there are many other potential ranking factors that could be bundled into these new SEO guidelines, such as a greater emphasis on safe searching and HTTPS, these three terms constitute the bulk of what Google is looking for in terms of user experience.

Let’s break each of these terms down and explore what they mean for your online store:

Largest Contentful Paint

To put it simply, the LCP web vital considers how fast it takes for the main elements of a web page to render. A slow render time for your website will increase the bounce rate and dampen the user experience. While the overall speed of your website and the LCP have long been considered important factors when it comes to SEO, they haven’t been fully integrated into the algorithm until now. Once this new Google update hits, it will be important to have a website that not only loads fast but that displays important interactive elements as quickly as possible.

First Input Delay

The First Input Delay is another page experience metric that determines how fast a web page can actually be interacted with in a meaningful way after it has been accessed. We have all had an experience with a slow loading web page that takes forever to interact with despite the fact that elements of the page have already loaded in. The First Input Delay can be a huge determining factor in the overall quality of a web page, which is why it is being considered as a future ranking factor.

Think about it from the standpoint of an online shopper. They search for what they are looking for in Google, eager to buy the first thing that matches their tastes or needs. Your website comes up in the search results and the user decides to take a chance and click the link. All seems well, the page is loading in. However, despite the fact that the image of the product is visible and the “add to cart” button is there as well, you can’t click on anything. This lack of responsiveness can crush the shopping experience, leading to a high bounce rate.

Importance of Page Experience For SEO

A fast and snappy website that is responsive and polished is what Google is looking for. Your page experience needs to have that professional feel if you intend on navigating through future SEO updates.

Cumulative Layout Shift

The Cumulative Layout Shift is a metric that determines how elements on a web page may change position as they load in, which could cause a poor user experience.

This is another one of those nebulous ranking factors that you may never have considered before when working on your eCommerce SEO, but it is something you need to take note of. If your website loads slowly and has clunky elements that shift around all over the place during the rendering process, this could potentially cause a user to “misclick,” or click on an element that they didn’t want to.

Sending a user to the wrong page is a surefire way to get them to bounce. For instance, what if a user visits your website and sees your “Blog” in the navigation bar. They try and click on it but the actual link they are clicking on is the cart, or some kind of product. This could send the wrong kind of message and may even make the user think you are trying to scam them.

Getting Your Shopify Website Ready

All of the pages on your site need to take these page experience ranking factors into consideration going forward. If you want your Shopify store to have that professional look and feel that not only pleases users but that also keeps Google happy as well, this is all but essential.

There is no telling just how impactful these new SEO guidelines will be once they roll out. In the past, certain updates that were thought to cause havoc didn’t actually change things all that much. What we do know is that for going on a year, Google has seen fit to mention this update on several occasions, and has seemed to emphasize its importance. Although they have stated that if you are already taking care of your SEO properly, you won’t experience any difference in your rankings, we all know that this could mean just about anything.

You can’t be sure that your website is properly optimized unless a skilled eCommerce SEO agency is at the helm. Whether it’s forgotten duplicate content, dead pages that haven’t been redirected, or a clunky homepage that is causing your bounce rate to spike, your SEO strategy needs to be comprehensive and air-tight. Every aspect of creating a beneficial experience for the user needs to be taken into account if you intend on actually meeting the needs of your shoppers and defying any future algorithm updates.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when preparing your Shopify website for this upcoming change to the SEO landscape:

  • Make sure all of the images you are using on your site are properly compressed. Large images can dramatically increase the time it takes to load in more important elements.
  • Does your category structure and navigation hierarchy make sense? If you have too many categories or parts of your site that seem to overlap or are redundant, you may want to scale them back in order to improve site size and shopping efficiency.
  • Consider removing plugins and apps that you don’t absolutely need. Every add-on and integration you include in your Shopify store may come at a cost. Every line of extra code in the header of your web page could hold up the loading process and potentially impact your site in a negative way.
  • Think about going more minimalist if it fits your brand. Pare down your homepage and simplify some of the elements so that only the important elements are left. If there are parts of your website there for decoration alone and aren’t helping the sales process, consider removing them.
  • Work on your interlinking. The search engines are looking for context, and that means taking enough time to create a logical sitewide hierarchy. In terms of the upcoming updates, you want to be mindful about all aspects of the user experience, not just the big three mentioned above.
  • Get a technical SEO audit performed in order to make sure that nothing is amiss that the search engines might count against you.

While it may seem like an unnecessary load of work, there’s no telling just how serious this update will be. Some websites that have been neglecting their load times and other user experience elements may be in for a rude surprise come May.

If you are already following stringent SEO guidelines based on user experience, great. However, if you have been reluctant in the past to invest in your search engine optimization and haven’t given your online store the proper attention, now’s the time.

Mobile Usability For User Experience

Your Shopify store needs to be just as functional on mobile as it is on desktop. Mobile usability is already a huge ranking signal but after May’s update, it could weigh even heavier.

Future-Proof Your SEO With Genius eCommerce

Google and other search engines are constantly refining their algorithms in favor of the users. What this means is that as the search experience evolves, the same old SEO tricks and marketing tactics become obsolete. Google only wants the best of the best ranking on page one.

Does your Shopify website qualify?

While this SEO guide may have shed some light on the upcoming page experience update slated for May of this year, you may not be aware of how to implement the proper changes so that you can be ready. Even if you have an established business and a thriving website, that could change in an instant if you aren’t taking care of your SEO.

If you want to be proactive about your online presence and nip any potential SEO issues in the bud before they complicate things and impact your rankings, you need to start letting a professional eCommerce agency manage your website. Here at Genius eCommerce®, meaningful SEO campaigns that get results for eCommerce businesses is what we do.

Our experts know exactly what Google wants to see out of a website. Whether it’s a strong backlinking profile, proper on-page SEO, or a mobile-friendly interface that accommodates shoppers on every device, we know how to analyze these issues and address them in the proper manner.

One of the best reasons to invest in quality SEO services is that not only can you prepare for this upcoming change in the Google algorithm, you can essentially future-proof your website by implementing SEO best practices. With the help of a skilled marketing agency, you can stay on top of fluctuations in how Google ranks websites and make sure that if your site does take a tumble, that you can get right back on the horse with a powerful campaign.

Give our team a call at 888.982.8269 if you want to take decisive action to ensure that you are following the proper SEO guidelines and that you are doing what you need to in order to grow your Shopify store the way you want.