Seek and ye shall find – a quick guide to the Google algorithm changes coming your way soon
In November last year, Google announced a raft of changes to its search algorithms, due to launch in May 2021. Somewhat unbelievably, that’s exactly where we are now, so we thought it high time we gave you a quick run-down of the topline changes coming your way. (Google has now said changes will be gradually coming into effect from mid-June to August, so it’s worth checking – see links below)
For those of you yet to launch a website then it’s worth knowing this ahead of any digital changes you make, though hopefully whoever is handling the design and build of your website will already know the ins and outs! For those already well established, it’s worth checking in with your tech team or agency to ensure your site is optimised for the new parameters so you can avoid losing out on potential customers.
Now, you may be rolling your eyes and wondering why you should care – and after all, other search engines do exist. But the reality is, Google dominates the online search market like no-one else, and to risk slipping down the search rankings is to risk a significant downturn in visibility and potential new customers.
This is not intended to be a thorough exploration of the changes, merely a topline summary. Plenty of detailed online advice is available so do your website a favour and make sure you’re up to speed – before you start seeing your web traffic taking a nosedive.
Tl;dr - Experience is becoming more important
In a nutshell, the new algorithm places more importance on user experience (or UX). But don’t be fooled into thinking this replaces existing algorithm requirements. It doesn’t, and quality, relevant content is still really important. (And, while we say your traffic will nosedive, no-one really knows the full impact until the new system launches – but it’s a pretty safe bet that if your site doesn’t tick the right boxes, it won’t be featured as high in the search rankings.)
Of course, page load speed has been a factor in the Google algorithm for many years, but now there are other factors to take into account like stability like mobile compatibility.
The user-friendliness of your site will be measured using a group of metrics bundled up as Core Web Vitals. There are three core metrics here: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP – a measure of load speed), First Input Delay (FID – a measure of interactivity / site responsiveness) and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS – site stability).
So LCP essentially measures how fast your website loads, FID measures how fast it responds when you click on something, and CLS measures how visually stable it is, so you don’t get that annoying thing where you click on something but the screen has moved so you end up clicking the wrong link. Yes, we know, it’s really annoying.
The other main areas incorporated in the changes are around mobile-friendliness (unsurprisingly, given that mobile traffic in 2020 accounted for 50% of all web traffic), site safety (i.e. absence of malware and other potentially harmful content), site security (as always user data should be completely secure) and intrusive messages (i.e. excessive or persistent pop-ups.)
Why is it important?
Ultimately, the better experience a user has on your website, the more likely they are to have a positive opinion of your brand and are therefore, in theory, more likely to use your services or buy your products. Google wants to ensure that the websites it returns as the top results will provide that positive experience for users – which in turn should mean better interaction and conversion for your site too.
FIND OUT MORE
There is a lot more to the changes Google is introducing but we don’t want to simply repeat what others have already said. Here are a few places you can find out more, if you would like to: