Another Google Core Update is Coming Our Way
The dust has only just settled on the May 2020 core update that really reshuffled the deck for a lot of websites and Google has just announced the next major change coming to the search engine giant’s core algorithm. This algorithm update is set to make waves in both broad and local search results as it is designed to focus on evaluating page experience. For web design and SEO professionals, this comes as a bit of a surprise as Google rarely – if ever – provides insight into how planned algorithm updates will impact ranking changes or when Google algorithm updates will be rolled out in the core algorithm. However, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, this core update is being treated with less secrecy than we’ve come to expect from Google. We don’t have a specific date just yet, but this Google update will be added to the search index and begin affecting search results sometime in 2021.
For years, Google has been conducting studies through its search engine and peripheral software like Chrome. The industry research shows that users much prefer websites that offer a better page experience than others. Recent Google search updates have incorporated factors like page load speed and mobile display as key ranking factors in Google search results. In fact, the official Chrome blog has announced Core Web Vitals, which is the study of a series of metrics used to measure page speed, mobile responsiveness and overall visual stability in order to help web designers and website owners effectively gauge and address the user experience design and effectiveness of a site.
Google may choose to let us know when this algorithm update will become part of their search engine offering, but we can’t count on it given their history of secrecy regarding core update changes. I’ve also advised my clients to take a proactive approach with their website and search engine optimization strategy and this is perhaps the most golden opportunity we’ve ever been afforded in that regard. Now is the time to take a closer look at your website and analyze the overall page experience to ensure your business is safeguarded against any potential drop in rankings when Google updates its algorithm to include this fundamental change in ranking analysis.
Google’s statement on the update to its search algorithms:
A note on timing: We recognize many site owners are rightfully placing their focus on responding to the effects of COVID-19. The ranking changes described in this post will not happen before next year, and we will provide at least six months notice before they’re rolled out. We’re providing the tools now to get you started (and because site owners have consistently requested to know about ranking changes as early as possible), but there is no immediate need to take action.
What is Page Experience?
The upcoming page experience signal will measure many different aspects of how website users interact with and ultimately perceive a web page. As web developers and website owners begin to work on optimizing their existing websites to adhere to the metrics included in the Page Experience algorithm update we can expect to see a more positive user experience provided across the web in general. Over time, this update will also help websites better address user expectations when accessing the site on a mobile device ultimately driving increased success for businesses that adopt the practices early.
Core Web Vitals are user-centred metrics from the real world that aim to quantify key aspects of a website’s user experience. The vitals are designed to measure various dimensions of website usability with emphasis on key factors such as page speed or load time, on-page interactivity, and the stability of content quality.
When it comes to the Google algorithm we already know engineers are hard at work making incremental adjustments virtually every day. It’s not always easy to find crystal clear information on how these updates will affect the search index rankings or what changes need to be made to optimize your website content or UI design but in this case, we have ample time to better understand how this core update will impact search algorithms.
Here’s an example of the type of user experience Google is trying to weed out with this core update.
Watching the video you can see that the user was having a difficult time navigating the website. They wanted to press “No, go back” but the #protip install notice at the top of the page pushed everything down resulting in them accidentally clicking on “Yes, place my order.” The official term for the measurement of this user experience is called Cumulative Layout Shift and you can learn more in our article on How to Measure and Fix CLS Issues on Your Website.
How Page Experience Will Impact Search Engine Ranking
Great web page experiences help visitors find the information or content they want quickly and provide an engaging method of delivery. By comparison, websites that offer a poor user experience can often stand in the way of a visitor achieving their goals for visiting the site. When the Page Experience algorithm update joins the hundreds of other ranking signals already used in the core algorithm to determine the rank of every web page and blog post on the web the website owners that take the initiative to audit their website experience now will reap the rewards and what is likely to be a significant boost in both general and local search results.
While all of the factors and components expected to roll out with the Page Experience algorithm updates are important, Google has indicated that they will give additional priority to websites that provide users with the best content and information, even if some Page Experience metrics are not yet up to snuff. What Google is saying is that a good page experience won’t be considered more important than having the most update to date information and content relevant to Google search queries. The impact of the Page Experience algorithm update will be felt most in search engines where pages that feature similar or related content or data are at play. The pages that offer a better overall user experience will be given a boost over the pages that offer a user experience that may be considered subpar. This is incredibly important between competing businesses that offer similar information on their websites.
The byproduct of taking a proactive approach to address algorithm updates is most often increased traffic to your website, but also increased engagement and conversion as users are provided better information and an improved experience.
It will become more important than ever that web designers and developers alike focus more attention to the finer details and subtle nuances of creating dynamic and engaging user experiences that provide rich content and easy access to the most valuable information that people are seeking. This practice is one of the core principles our Toronto web design company operates on to ensure we provide our clients with the most engaging and professionally crafted websites to power their online marketing strategies.
Audit Your Website’s User Experience Now
With six to twelve months’ notice, we have an unprecedented scenario to address our website’s user experience before the Google algorithm updates begin rolling out and impacting search results. To stay on top of the core algorithm and drive success in local search for your business it is more important than ever to work with a professional web designer or developer. Our clients rely on our years of experience to make sure they maximize their Google ranking and land in the right column when it comes to winners and losers after a core algorithm update.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your business prepare for the fundamental shift in website design and SEO coming in less than a year.