Google Search Console - forthcoming changes

Google Search Console - forthcoming changes

From December 2023, Google will be retiring its Mobile Usability Report, Mobile-Friendly Test Tool, Mobile-Friendly Test API, and its Page Experience Report from Google Search Console. We look at what the impact of this will be on SEO.

Page Experience Report

Introduced into Google Search Console in 2021 for mobile devices and in 2022 for desktop, 2023 will see the demise of the Page Experience Report, which gave insights into user experience. The report made information available about website performance with respect to page loading speeds, security and mobile friendliness to name just three.

These reports could be used to monitor website performance and identify ways to improve it. The Page Experience Reports will be removed completely. In Google’s own words:

‘In the coming months, the Page Experience report within Search Console will transform into a new page that links to our general guidance about page experience and a dashboard view of the individual Core Web Vitals and HTTPS reports that will remain in Search Console.’

It’s worth noting here that Google says Page Experience Reports were only ever a guide to some of the metrics for page experience and were never intended to be a ‘comprehensive assessment’.

Mobile-Friendly Test Tool and Mobile-Friendly Test API

From December 2023, Google will also be retiring its Mobile-Friendly Test Tool and Test API, not because it is no longer relevant for websites to be mobile friendly and usable (‘it remains critical for users, who are using mobile devices more than ever, and as such, it remains a part of our page experience guidance.’), but because ‘there are other robust resources for evaluating mobile usability’.

Mobile Usability Report

We’ve all received an email telling us that Search Console has identified mobile usability issues of one sort or another and often these warnings have turned out to be inaccurate. So with a collective sigh of relief, we welcome the news that these reports, too, will be retired from December 2023. In part this is happening because Google acknowledges that mobile-friendliness is included in other reports and can be calculated from user experience information from Core Web Vitals. Core Web Vitals show page performance based on field data, or real world usage data, including page load time, interactivity, and visual stability, which Google considers key indicators of site performance.

What next for measuring performance and mobile usability?

There are, as Google says, ‘other robust resources for evaluating mobile usability’, one of which is Lighthouse from Chrome. At TJS we have been using the Lighthouse test for several years now, but what is it exactly?

The Lighthouse Test

The Lighthouse Test can be accessed via browsers’ devtools and also via Page Speed Insights. The test came about to enable developers to score the performance of a website across four areas, performance, accessibility, best practices, and SEO; each of these areas is given a score out of 100 where 0-49 is “poor”, 50-89 is “needs improvement” and 90-100 is “good”. It should be noted here that Lighthouse Test scores can fall over time, for example if the tests change and if poor quality content is added. Content that can affect scores includes images that are too large which affect load times.  Here's a random example we tested on the web... ...

Terrible Lighthouse Performance Score from random example website

Perfect Google Lighthouse Scores from TJS

Good web developers strive to achieve scores of 90-100 in each of the four areas and, according to Google, ‘a "perfect" score of 100 is extremely challenging to achieve and not expected’. At TJS we consistently achieve scores of above 90 and have achieved the perfect Google Lighthouse score across the board with our bespoke web development.

Perfect Google Lighthouse Score by TJS

To discuss your website’s performance, contact us today on 01507 525500.