As we do every quarter, we’re back with the latest updates from Google over the last quarter. In our last publish of Google Updates we covered the SMITH Algorithm (Passage Ranking) and how Google has been striving to make search more relevant for users and businesses alike. This time around, at the Google IO conference in May 2021, they’ve announced two more massive algorithm updates in the pipeline which we’ll cover under ‘What’s Next’.
With the Page Experience Algorithm officially rolled out as a ranking factor, Google is fishing out websites that don’t meet the experience and relevance expectations of users. That said, lets now get into the key Google updates in Q2 for your business to be adept with the latest and plan strategically to stay relevant and visible on search.
Google Algorithm updates
1. Page Experience Algorithm
Since mid-June 2021 Google has started including Page Experience as one of its search ranking factors. The page experience data is taken from Chrome User Experience Report which considers several page performance signals like Core Web Vitals, Mobile Compatibility, Safety, HTTPS, Placement of interstitials.
Core Web Vitals
Google’s Core Web Vitals are important measures to help all site owners provide better user experiences by optimizing some critical user-centric elements of their pages. Here are the Core Web Vitals Google considers while calculating Page Experience.
LCP (Largest Contentful Paint)
The LCP is a metric used to determine the loading performance of a page. This measure considers the time it takes to load the largest element on a page. Google recommends an LCP below 2.5 seconds to provide the best user experience.
FID (First Input Delay)
The FID is a measure of the page’s responsiveness. FID considers the time from when a user provides an input on a page to when the page provides a relevant response. Google recommends an FID below 100 milliseconds to provide the best user experience.
CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift)
The CLS measures the visual stability of a page. A Layout Shift is the shifting of rendered content on a page, this usually occurs if the page resources are not loaded in sequence or the page contains Document Object Model (DOM) elements. Shifting of content on a page can create a poor user experience. The CLS considers unexpected layout shifts and assigns a score to the page. Data from the page’s Layout Shift Score is used to calculate the CLS.
To determine the overall Page Experience, Google also considers how the user experience will be across devices, including mobile.
Google also measures the security of each indexed page. Site owners can check the security of their pages by creating a Security Issues Report. This document will report any security breaches or weaknesses within a site. There are three main security issues that Google looks out for.
Content added to pages without the site owner’s permission.
A site that contains malicious software that can damage a user’s device or collect unauthorized information from a user.
Social Engineering :
Content that can cause a user to do something harmful, like reveal personal information, download an unlicensed software that can be harmful, etc.
If Google determines that a page does not meet the Page Safety standards it will display a warning to the user as an interstitial on the page or provide a warning in the search results.
The Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is an internet communication protocol that is built on the Transport Layer Security protocol, which provides three layers of protection, Encryption, Data Integrity, and Authentication. As part of enabling HTTPS on a site, the site owner needs to obtain the security certificate which determines the authenticity of the organization and its web address, this provides an additional layer of security to users.
Placement of Interstitials
Interstitials are pieces of content that are placed on top of the content that is present on the page. Interstitials can be quite intrusive if not placed correctly and can provide a poor user experience. Google now considers how intrusive interstitials are on a page and factors this in while determining the Page Experience.
2. Product Reviews Algorithm
Google has not made any core updates since last December, but it has released an update that impacts product reviews to provide users more relevant results. The new update seeks to help rank pages that provide highly relevant content and share in-depth research about a product rather than the features or something that is obvious about the product.
Google Search updates
1. FAQ rich results limited to two
Google recently announced that it will be restricting FAQ rich results to two per page. Earlier Google’s Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) used to display up to 10 FAQ rich results which caused a lot of clutter on the SERPs. To refine its SERP experience, it will now display 2 FAQ rich results per page and businesses will most likely see this impact their website traffic over the next few weeks – which further brings emphasis to the need of having a well-defined FAQ strategy.
Google Local Updates
1. GMB Reviews ‘People Often Mention’ feature now shows positivity rate
The Reviews ‘People Often Mention’ section now shows whether the term often mentioned was used in a positive or negative context. Keywords with a majority of positive mentions have a thumb up next to them and ones with majority of negative mentions showcase a thumbs down.