What you need to know about May 2021 Google algorithm changes
One thing is for sure—we can never accuse Google of resting on its laurels. Like any business, Google understands that making customers—in this case, searchers—happy keeps them coming back for more. In fact, the search engine giant is constantly tweaking its algorithm (Google made more than 3,000 in 2018 alone) that help the search engine giant find, rank and serve the best results. That ensures the 3.5 billion searches done on the platform each day return the best results. Using data from billions of daily searches,
Google algorithm changes may leave us website owners scrambling to keep up, but in the end, it’s all in the name of giving our customers the best web experience, too. Sometimes these changes are so tiny we hardly notice them. Sometimes the changes are immediately noticed – by SEOs who monitor website rankings. And then there are the times when Google feels compelled to warn us of BIG changes. So it is with the latest Google algorithm update expected to arrive this spring.
Search marketing company Wordstream® listed preparing your website for Google’s algorithm updates one of the 18 best ways to market your business in 2021. Now that the algorithm warning bell has sounded, it’s time to dig into the details.
This is a Google page experience update
In Google terms, page experience is a set of signals that measures a user’s entire experience with a web page. More than the information on a page, these signals to be used in this update include these web page elements:
- Load speed
- Visual stability
If Google’s signals read more like Greek, it’s OK. You’re not alone! Let’s break them down to learn what each of them mean.
Load speed is much what it sounds like—the time it takes for a web page to be visible to a user. Load speed is determined by the amount of time it takes to render the largest image or text block on the page. The going rate for the best user experience? 2.5 seconds.
Think of interactivity as that all-important first impression. And, this has a measurement, too. Interactivity, or that first impression, is measured from the time a user interacts with your page (like by clicking a link or button) to the time it takes the browser to respond to the interaction. Google’s measuring stick for this signal is less than 100 milliseconds.
Visual stability refers to those annoying—and sometimes harmful—times when text or buttons shift as you’re reading a web page. This happens when content is still loading or elements are added dynamically causing text or buttons to shift. Google’s measure of every time this happens is called Cumulative Layout Shift—fewer shifts equate to a better experience.
How to get ahead of the algorithm update
So, what does all this mean? The latest Google algorithm update really comes down to site speed—how quickly your website loads to deliver a great customer experience. As search engine optimization expert Stephan Spencer says, “run, don’t walk” to Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to see if your website passes.
You can also check your site’s Google Search Console report. Load speed, interactivity and visual stability are part of what Google calls Core Web Vitals, which now is part of Search Console’s report. There, it will tell you whether your site needs improvement or is good to go.
If your site needs work, here are some things to consider:
- Make sure your images and videos are compressed into smaller files so they load quickly. Just one additional second of load speed can cause a 70% decline in conversions.
- Review your web pages to make sure they are easy to navigate. Do elements, like buttons, shift as the page loads? Are you using annoying pop-ups? If you say yes to either of these questions, you’ll want to update those pages.
- Put yourself in your visitors’ shoes. Click around your site. Do you get where you want to go quickly and easily? If not, it’s likely the Google algorithm changes will take a toll on your site rankings.
We expect companies that don’t prepare for the latest Google algorithm update will experience lower website rankings, which would likely lead to less search traffic and fewer conversions. If you would like us to conduct a website audit and help you prepare, give us a call. We’d love to help!