The New Google Algorithm Update. Are You Ready?

Indirectly as it may be, UX has been a staple of page rankings for a while. Poor UX leads to visitors leaking from your site, increasing bounce rates and ultimately harming your domain. However, the new Google algorithm update puts the UX of a website as a direct factor in terms of ranking higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

It’s rare Google provides the public with news of any upcoming updates so when they do it’s important to capitalise….

So here’s what you need to know about the Google algorithm update

User-friendly browsing is front and centre 

The main aim of the new Google algorithm update which Google has been pushing towards for a while, is to develop a number of factors to measure experience, such as whether a site has an SSL or how mobile-friendly it is. Core Web Vitals is another company created by Google which helps businesses determine their website speed and functionality, another key component of the UX.algorithm Google is pushing sometime in 2021 is to improve the UX across all devices.

Whilst all these factors indirectly played a part in the rankings of a website, they will now directly impact SERPs and whether businesses appear in relevant results.  Google will now combine the Core Web Vitals and UX factors to determine a combined page experience score, with low-scoring sites slumping down the SERPs.

What are Core Web Vitals?

Currently, there are three Core Web Vitals which Google will be updating progressively: 

  1. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): LCP tracks the time it takes to load up any given page on a website. Ideally, Google suggests this should be 2.5 seconds or less to range in the ‘good’ boundary.
  2. First Input Delay (FID): FID measures the time it takes from interacting with your site to the site actually registering the action and responding to it. Think of it like ringing someone’s doorbell and the time it takes for the door to open. Websites need to have a FID of 100milliseconds or less.
  3. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): CLS looks at the stability of a site and whether the layout will begin to shift depending on an action any given user takes on your site such as clicking a button. Pages should try to maintain a score of 0.1 or less to be seen as user friendly.

Ensuring your website remains within the recommended ranges for all 3 areas, is a vital requirement of the Google algorithm update.

Mobile optimisation is part of the Google algorithm update What other factors make up the page experience ranking?

There are currently four further ranking signals that affect page rankings and if businesses are in relevant results, which Google has stated it will assess and expand accordingly. They are:

  1. Mobile-friendliness: How well the website performs across mobile devices.
  2. Safe-browsing: Determines whether your page is safe for the user to browse by detecting for malware or any other viruses that could put the user at risk.
  3. HTTPS: Linked in part to the above, Google prefers sites that have an SSL meaning sites with no secure HTTPS connection will suffer.
  4. Intrusiveness: Dark patterns have been quite prominent in the UX of websites for a while. Google will now look into whether a site has any dark pattern hallmarks such as an intrusive web design, pop-ups that cover parts of a page, or adverts that need dismissing before entering a site.

How to get ready for the Google algorithm update

With Google giving users prior notice, businesses have enough time to implement some necessary steps before the update drops sometime in 2021.

Use the tools available

The most logical place to start is by using Google’s Developer Tools to assess Core Web Vitals and the four further factors that make up the page experience ranking. At present there are six tools:

There are also a further two tools that can measure page experience outside of the Core Vitals:

Utilising all these tools in conjunction with one another will allow businesses to gauge an idea of their page experience score.

Create a report

For more information on how you’re performing against the Core Vitals, located within the Search Console is the Core Web Vitals report. The benefit of this report is that it provides real-time data for people currently on your site similar to Google Analytics, allowing businesses to see search queries to their site as an example. 

Another report that should be used alongside the Core Web Vitals report is the Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX). The CrUX also uses real-time data and measures Core Vitals, however the added benefit of the CrUX report is it allows businesses to measure data from the previous month, allowing businesses to measure improvements over time.

The report also allows users to drill down into the results further by segmenting by a number of factors such as browsing device or geographical location, allowing users to see what external factors could be affecting the results.

Mapping out the user journey is crucial to meet the new Google algorithm updateTake action from the results to get ready for the Google algorithm update

Once you have all the data from these tools, you can build a clear picture of what needs to be done to improve your page experience and ultimately SERP ranking from targeted search queries. Google has made it easier to determine what needs doing by offering recommendations on many of its tools. For example, Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test provides a list of errors and reasons why your website may be performing poorly on mobile. 

Whilst it’s crucial your page experience score is high by meeting the recommended LCP, FID and CLS scores, Google still states that useful content will still be the most prioritised ranking signal. 

However, we understand with the day-to-day running of a small business, dedicating time to keeping up-to-date with the latest Google algorithm update or analysing your site whilst also pushing out regular content isn’t always feasible. So if you want to ensure that you’re providing your customers with value and dominating the competition, Kariba can support with a number of proven strategies.

So why not get in touch with Kariba for a free consultation today on 01423 593020.

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