2022: Google to Start Using Page Experience for Desktop Ranking

Mobile First means mobile-friendly sites have the upper hand. In February, a desktop-oriented update will begin.
SIA Team
November 5, 2021

One of Google’s aims is to try to encourage (and reward) webmasters who make web pages that offer a good user experience to visitors. 

That’s the ultimate aim of the Page Experience update. 

Until now (or maybe more accurately, until February 2022), it’s applied mostly to mobile devices, and in light of Mobile First, that makes sense. 

Mobile First is a web design concept. Its roots may go as far back as 2010 (and maybe even earlier). It’s basically the idea that web pages should be designed to display well on mobile devices first, and then, other types of devices afterward.

And, Google has used a Mobile First approach to ranking: it’s the mobile version of your site that’s used for ranking. 

If you’re a bit perplexed, thinking Wait…there’s only one version of my site, for both mobile and desktop users, and it displays well on both, that’s a good situation. 

It’s usually a lot easier to have a website that’s designed to be responsive. And by responsive, I mean responsive design: web pages that can adjust their visuals according to the screen dimensions of the device that’s used, whether it be mobile or desktop. 

It’s just that, for some sites, there are actually 2 versions: if the site detects that a user is on a mobile device, it’ll display the mobile version, and if the user is on a desktop or laptop, it’ll display the desktop version.

Anyway, until now, Google has been exclusively using the mobile version of your site (or, whether your site is mobile friendly) to factor into your site’s rankings (for both mobile and desktop searchers). 

But, it looks like that’s soon going to change.

That tweet links to a document titled, Timeline for Bringing Page Experience Ranking to Desktop. That document is worth viewing. 

Think About It This Way: There Are Two Types of Google Results Pages

As I was typing this, it occurred to me that the distinction between mobile ranking and desktop ranking may be confusing, so just consider it this way:

If you do a Google search on your phone, then the results you see will be web pages that Google thinks will display well on your phone. 

Likewise, if you do a Google search on your desktop, then the results you see will be web pages that Google thinks will display well on your desktop. 

Some sites may show up for both mobile and desktop results, and that’s because those sites either work well on both, or have mobile and desktop versions.

Some sites may only show up for desktop results, and that’s because those sites either aren’t mobile-friendly or don’t have mobile versions. 

Okay, I hope I explained that well. 

Does This Mean You’ll Need Both a Mobile And a Desktop Version of Your Site/Pages?

I seriously doubt it. 

Can you imagine having one version of your website that works well for all devices, and then, Google comes out and says that you now should have 2 separate versions?

That might cause quite an upheaval. 

The 3 Core Page Experience Metrics Will Now Apply to Desktop Versions of Your Site (If Applicable)

I say ‘if applicable’ because if you only have one version of your site that’s designed to be responsive (displays well on mobile and desktop), then this section probably doesn’t apply to your site.

On the other hand, if you have more than one version of your site (presumably one for mobile and another for desktop), then for desktop ranking, your desktop’s Page Experience scores will be used to determine your desktop ranking. 

Unlike for mobile ranking, for desktop ranking, mobile-friendliness isn’t a factor Google’s looking for (which makes sense). 

Idea: If You Have 2 Versions of Your Site, You Can Gain an Edge

If you have both a mobile and desktop version of your site, this may be an opportunity for you to rank better in desktop search results.

You see, until now (or, February), Google has been using the mobile version of your site to determine mobile and desktop rankings.

This may have allowed people to just focus on the mobile versions of their sites, while possibly ignoring their desktop versions.

With the upcoming inclusion of desktop Page Experience performance, if you can noticeably improve the performance of the desktop version of your site, you could, conceivably, rank a bit higher for searches coming from people on desktop devices.

That’s something to think about. 

Source: Google Search Central Twitter channel