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Google Core Algorithm Update: What You Need to Know

Google Core Algorithm Update: What You Need to Know

Back in 2020, Google announced their next update would take place in spring 2021. In November 2020, the company released more specific information—the update would occur in May 2021, Core Web Vitals would become ranking signals, and it would focus extensively on UX.

Google has said their “Page Experience” signal is a combination of Core Web Vitals and the following functions:
  • Mobile friendliness
  • Safe browsing
  • HTTPS-security
  • Intrusive interstitial guidelines (essentially pop-up ads that detract from the page’s core content)

So, what does this all mean? It means if you have not given much thought to UX as it relates to your website, you may want to start thinking about it.

“UX” refers to any interaction a user has with a good or service. The components of a UX designed website are put together with the end user in mind. Let us take a closer look at why this is important, especially in the context of the upcoming update.

Why UX matters
Past updates have focused on different aspects of websites’ construction. This time, UX is front and center. Most of us already know how important SEO, keywords, and quality content are when it comes to Google’s rankings. A site focused on strong UX has the right components as well as the following:
  • Appropriate keywords (but no keyword stuffing, please!) SEO and strong keywords remain a driver for UX. Overusing keywords can raise a red flag for Google and affect a site’s ranking. The focus here should be quality, not quantity. Focus on strong content that engages the reader not just fulfilling a quota of keywords.
  • Clear, concise header tags. Header tags go a long way towards SEO, so be aware of word choice when composing subheads.
  • Clean navigation and page layout. Users don’t want to spend a whole lot of time searching for what they are looking for. A cluttered, confusing site that is big on graphics and animation but small on clarity will just frustrate users and increase your bounce rate. Each page of your site should contain simple, clear titles and be arranged in a way that makes sense. You want users to spend time on your site because they find it valuable, not because they are wasting time looking for the information they need.
  • Mobile-friendly. More than half of the world’s web traffic is coming from a mobile device. If your site is not compatible with mobile, you are likely missing out on a whole lot of potential business. A site that is not mobile friendly typically lacks some information, has a jumbled or irregular-looking layout, and loads more slowly, among other issues.
  • Acceptable page speed. Your site should not take longer than a few seconds to load, regardless of how content-rich it might be.

Dangers of templated websites
If you have a templated website, you could also face some challenges with the Page Experience update. Templates are a fast and relatively inexpensive way to get your website up and running. They can help you get your online presence established, but they have several drawbacks. Templated websites do little to stand out in either design or Google rankings. Think about it: a template is just that—a standard pattern. Anyone building a website can use these layouts, even a novice DIY site designer. You are likely to find dozens, if not hundreds, of other sites with the very same layout but different content. Another drawback is not all templates are mobile-friendly. As we already mentioned, mobile responsiveness is already a critical factor when it comes to UX. Accessing a templated site on a device could trigger another red flag for Google. Some site templates have limited customization options. This is another deterrent in the ever-competitive world of digital marketing, where setting yourself apart is critical.

What about content?
Timely, high-quality content is still a major factor in a page’s rankings. It is one of the key site elements evaluated in Google’s algorithm updates. Content will be one of several benchmarks measured in the Core Vitals Update. Websites are no longer just static digital business cards. Users want to feel connected to the sites they visit and entities they support. Google has already announced it will be placing greater emphasis on overall user engagement.

How can you boost your site’s UX?
Fortunately, there is some time to get your site primed and ready for the Google update. We are here to help. To maximize your site’s UX factor, skip the DIY route and invest in the services of a web developer and designer trained in UX.

Contact us now for a full site audit. We can evaluate your site against the new benchmarks to determine how the update will affect your presence and, best of all, we will work with you on a game plan for site remediation.