What are Google Algorithms?
Google search algorithms are a complicated methodology used to fetch data from its huge search index and straight away deliver the best credible results for a search query. It also allows Google to find, rank, and return the most relevant pages for a certain search query. The search engine uses an amalgamation of algorithms and numerous key ranking elements such as quality, relevance, or usability of the page to retrieve websites ranked by relevance on its search engine results pages (SERPs).
What makes Google search so fast?
Google works by crawling the web, ranking millions of web pages that exist, and placing them in an organized index. When a user conducts a search, Google can then search through its more self-organized index rather than the whole web to quickly come up with relevant results. Now, Google is not searching the internet, it is searching through an organized index, hence it will give faster results to search queries. Your search query is distributed across multiple servers to fetch the returned results. This allows the process to be highly parallelized and quick.
In its early years, Google didn’t update its algorithms so frequently, but with changing digital times, it makes thousands of updates every year. Most of these updates are so minor that they go completely overlooked. But some are the major ones. In 2021, a major update is regarding the Google Page Experience. Let’s go in-depth and find out what this update is all about and how can you prepare for it?
Google ‘Page Experience’ Update – May 2021
Google has announced a new ranking algorithm update based on User Experience factors called “Page Experience” update. Google’s own definition of update says that “The page experience signal measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page. Optimizing for these factors makes the web more delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces, and helps sites evolve towards user expectations on mobile. We believe this will contribute to business success on the web as users grow more engaged and can transact with less friction. User experience to become a major Google ranking factor”.
This algorithm update is designed to judge websites based on how users consider the experience of interacting with a web page. That means if Google evaluates that your website users will have a poor experience on your pages measured by a new set of metrics called Core Web Vitals, it may not rank those pages as high as they are now. The main motive of this update is to ensure that sites that rank at the top aren’t creating bad experiences that users hate. It is that simple that user-friendly sites will rank higher than sites that aren’t user-friendly. These factors aim to recognize how a user will perceive the experience of a specific web page considering things such as website load time, if the website is mobile-friendly, runs on HTTPS or not, intrusive ad’s presence on the page, and if the content flickers around as the page loads.
So if you want to lead the SEO services race in today’s digital times, you need to be aware of the core web vitals of this Page Experience update to optimize your website to stay at the top of SERPs.
Core Web Vitals:
Core Web Vitals metrics will start to impact google rankings in May 2021. Core web vitals incorporates real-world, user-centric metrics, that score your websites on the characteristics of your pages including website load time, customer interactivity, and the stability of content as it loads. Google classifies the core web vitals as:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
It evaluates the loading performance of your website. According to Google standards, your LCP should be below 2.5 seconds. It means that when you hit the enter on a website, it should load up before 2.5 seconds or the user experience might get affected.
- First Input Display (FID)
It evaluates the customer interactivity with your website. According to Google standards, to provide a good user experience, pages should have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
This core web vital measures the visual stability of your web page. To provide a good user experience, sites should make an effort to reach a CLS score of less than 0.1. While, less the CLS, less priority will be given to your website for ranking.
Other factors which also define rankings in Google are:
- Mobile-Friendliness: This update also checks that your web page is mobile-friendly or not. So, in order to fulfill this update’s aspects, you need to have a mobile-friendly website that opens swiftly on mobile and users don’t face any issues on their devices while interacting.
- Safe Browsing: This metric is all about safety from malicious elements on your web page. This core web vital looks for any malicious or red-flagged content on your pages and ranks them accordingly.
- HTTPS: This update also finds out that your web page is served over HTTP or HTTPS. HTTPS is considered to be a secured connection as compared to HTTP.
- No Intrusive Interstitials: This update also measures that how easily or comfortably the user is easily able to access the content on the page.
Now let us take a look in detail what these CORE WEB VITALS are:
Core Web Vitals are the key pillars of the new Google Page Experience Algorithm update. These all elements constitute page experience and measures how satisfied the users are with your web pages. Let us check out each in detail:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): The Largest Contentful Paint measures how long it takes for the largest visible image or text block to appear on the website when it loads, and also evaluates the factors responsible for loading up the website for the first time. When a user hits enter after entering the website in a browser, the web page should load up as quickly as possible. That would be a great user experience as the user will able to reach out to his/her requirement quickly. To make it a standard, Google says that websites that load up in less than 2.5 seconds will have a chance to be ranked higher. So you need to ensure that the loading performance of your website is optimized as per the standards and your website load time should be less than 2.5 seconds to lead the SEO race.
- First Input Display (FID): First Input Display is the amount of time between a user’s first interaction with a page (by clicking a link, using a button, etc.) and the browser actually becoming responsive and able to process that interaction. You can say that this is the metric that measures factors leading to customer interactivity with the webpage. For example, if you have put some application forms to give out your services on your website, and the customer online is filling and submitting that form, that is counted under customer interactivity with the web page. To make it a standard, Google says that websites that have an FID score less than 100 milliseconds will have a chance to be ranked higher. So you need to make sure that the interactivity performance of your website is optimized as per the standards and your website should be able to jump to other pages easily hence, improving the customer interactivity.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): Cumulative Layout Shift scores help quantify how often users experience unexpected layout shifts when using a web page. In other words, the CLS metric measures the visual stability of your web page when it is loading up or completely loaded. In simple words, it means that when the website is loading up or fully loaded, your buttons should not flicker, your links should not move around the page, all text boxes should be at the same position as they were before loading, and many other factors. Sometimes, flickering or shaking can be irritating and the user ends up clicking the wrong buttons or closing the website completely. To ensure visual stability, Google says that websites that have a CLS score less than 0.1 will have a chance to be ranked higher. So you need to make sure that the visual stability of your website is optimized as per the standards and your website should be able to load up without any shaking, improving the customer experience.
Why you should pay attention to this algorithm update?
The fact remains the same that the new page experience metrics should be taken vigorously by developers and all those involved in optimization strategies to improve rankings in SERPs.
To begin with, if your user experience is seen as being in the top group, visual factors will draw consumers and browsers to your page over the other websites. Google is pretty sure about the increased importance they’re going to give to page experience update in coming times. A wonderful page experience lets more people click your website and increases engagement and traffic. It seems obvious that pages that fall below the new guidelines are going to be left behind in the rankings. Google already considers hundreds of characteristics to decide the rankings. The inclusion of page experience lets them guide people so that they can access information more easily and delightfully. For business owners and others involved, understanding these web vitals and making the necessary changes should now be a priority in terms of SEO. Or else, you run the risk of your page being ranked lower.
You wouldn’t want that now, would you?
The steps you can take to fulfill this ‘Page Experience’ update:
As Google adds ‘Page Experience’ signals in their new update which will affect the SERPs, we can have a look at the measures we can take in order to satisfy this update, and keep your SERP rankings intact. You can evaluate and track your website’s Core Web Vitals with tools you are likely already using. Google’s Search Console has a new Core Web Vitals Report that will offer a snapshot of how your site is currently performing and identify pages that can be improved and optimized for a better user experience. After you’ve identified which pages are falling short, you can work upon those pages specifically to improve these web vitals.
‘Content’ remains the supreme factor in Rankings
Several factors contribute to a site’s SEO rank, which has led to countless tricks, and best practices that marketers use to improve sites and their content’s SEO performance. And while following some of those best practices, the bottom line still remains the same as the best, most relevant content or site will win, because Google wants to provide users with the best experience possible. It often happens that SEO teams get so much involved in other tasks of SEO and give less weightage to optimizing content.
It is quite simple that good content will always play a crucial role in determining SERP rankings. It should be simple, it should attractive, it should be unique and user-friendly. It’s when you have such content, and then optimize it for Google’s algorithm updates, you’re going to see your ranking climb to the top.
To sum up all, we can say that to deal with this ‘Page Experience’ update we have to work on these verticals to remain at the top of SERPs:
- Improve Page Speeds, Website’s load time
- Improve page interactivities
- Use Alt Text for images
- Optimize for mobile search or make your website mobile-friendly
- And mainly, focus on your content