The Oxford comma,
And the court case that is providing much needed clarification
Google algorithm updates are always a key concern for anyone serious about having a website that performs.
In the industry, for the last few years, all the chatter’s been about the customer experience, user experience, or simply UX.
Last May, whilst many were busy basking in their gardens, the guys at Google were working harder than ever. Their objective? A third algorithm update to bring Google’s search focus into line with the increasing trend toward UX. The update would give greater emphasis to websites that deliver a positive customer experience.
Originally billed as a 2021 update, the algorithm update actually landed in early December 2020.
You may have already noticed changes to how your website is ranking. But even though the update was fully rolled out by the 16th December, it’s not too late to make any critical changes to make sure your site visits don’t suffer.
Three SEO measures that should now be on your radar
The Google algorithm called Broadcore Update goes beyond the pretty words and pictures, alt descriptions and fresh content requirements. It demands we take a look at the actual performance of our websites.
As a result of the update, Google now looks at three new elements when analysing your site:
1) Largest contentful paint or, to you and me, the loading experience.
Google measures the length of time it takes for the majority of the content on your page to load. Whilst you may have spent days debating each image appearing on your site, all that time is wasted if it takes so long to load that your site visitors choose not to stick around. By ensuring a slick loading experience, you can expect your site visitors to stick around for the full effect of your hard work.
In fact, to be considered ‘worthy’ by Google, your site needs to load in under 2.5 seconds.
2) Then there’s First input delay. First input delay or, in English, how quickly your readers can interact with the content that is now on screen (the Interactive Experience).
You know that feeling when you just want to be able to scroll to the part of the page you’re looking for – that. This is a tougher challenge than loading speed, with Google expecting your first input delay to not exceed a tenth of a second – that’s less than 100 milliseconds.
3) Google takes into consideration Cumulative layout shift. To you and me, that’s the stability of your site.
We all hate it when you’re looking at a webpage and the content shifts. Perhaps a text box moves or the placement of a picture changes. I find it usually happens when you’re about to click on a button and then the button moves, sending you off down a virtual rabbit hole.
Well, Google have worked out that we don’t like that so much. And, in their bid to ensure we don’t switch to a more user-friendly search engine, they’re clamping down, ranking those sites with greater stability higher than those without.
Tools to help you surf the tides of change
The first tool you need to know about is PageSpeed Insights This enables you to enter a URL and see exactly how your website is performing. It’ll display the first content paint, speed index and the largest contentful paint times and performance analysis. It doesn’t stop there. That wouldn’t be at all helpful. It tells you where there are opportunities to improve your website performance, and how much each change is likely to improve your performance for both desktop and mobile users.
The other tool worth adding to your bookmarks is Search Console. Search Console reports on your site’s search traffic and performance so you can fix issues and improve your search engine results.
Some of the changes are fairly straightforward, others a little more technical, but with these tools you can see the significance of the impact that the changes are likely to make, so you can pick and choose what to turn your hand to, or delegate to your tech team.
These new google algorithm update doesn’t prioritise the new requirements in place of delivering regular, relevant and key word rich copy, these are as important as ever before. But for those businesses committee to customer experience, they’ll help you stand apart from the rest. If you need help to create hard hitting, highly targeted content, you can find advice collected over more than a decade in my blog ‘The complete copywriting blog’.