Latest Google Updates: Tips to Help You Recover Your Rankings
When it comes to the digital world, Google can make or break a business. As evident to most, Google updates, which roll out are more often than not, can significantly impact your SEO rankings.
The latest in line is the ‘Google Page Experience’ update. While these updates can lead to a critical impact on your website’s performance, knowing what to do can help you downsize the impact to a bare minimum.
And on the same lines, this blog takes a look back at two of the latest Google Updates and shares some valuable tips to help prepare and overcome their implications. To start with, let’s talk about the Page Experience update.
Page Experience, as the name suggests, is nothing but a measure of how users perceive a website. Google uses the following predefined standards to measure the SEO service and user experience offered by websites:
- Safe browsing
- Page loading speed
- HTTPS ranking boost
- Presence of intrusive ads
What is the ‘Google Page Experience’ Update?
The new algorithm will now rank websites based on user experience. In addition to the abovementioned factors, Google has introduced a set of ‘core web vitals’ to measure a user’s experience on a particular website.
The motive is to ensure websites make browsing more convenient and offer a great user experience.
What does the update Mean?
In simple words, if the ‘core web vitals’ indicate a poor user experience, Google may not rank your site highly. The update has already started affecting the search rankings for many websites.
Understanding the ‘Core Web Vitals’
‘Core web vitals’ are factors used to score all aspects of a website, including loading time, interactivity, and visual stability.
If you observe closely, these factors are nothing new. They should ideally be a part of SEO packages when launching websites for the first time.
Here is how Google defines each of these elements.
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
LCP measures the time taken by a website to load its most extensive content or object. Ideally, websites should strive for an LCP score of 2.5 seconds or less.
- First Input Delay (FID)
FID measures the page response time after the first click. For example, if a page takes 2 seconds to respond after you click, the FID is 2 seconds. Ideally, the FID should be less than 100 milliseconds.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
CLS is a new metric that measures the visual stability of objects when a web page loads. Let’s take an example. Let’s say you launch a website. You see something interesting and click on it.
However, because the images and content keep shifting, you find you have clicked the wrong link. We are sure it has happened to you many times, right? Ideally, websites should look to maintain a CLS score less than 0.1.
The introduction of the ‘core web vitals’ does not make the ranking factors listed above irrelevant. They are still crucial and, in all likelihood, will carry more weight.
SEO Tips to Recover Your Search Rankings
You would have realised by now that the core update aims to improve the user experience. In our opinion, it’s not too much to ask.
Instead, it is an opportunity for you to enhance your website, improve conversion rates, and generate more revenues.
We do know how important the ‘core web vitals’ and other ranking factors are. As such, we have come up with some valuable tips. These tips will help you improve and recover your search rankings, should you fail to act on time.
Need for Speed
You will notice that all factors constituting the ‘core web vitals’ relate to a website’s speed. If you take care of the speed, the rest will automatically fall into place.
Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
A mobile-friendly website is not any website that works on mobile. Instead, it should have a great layout and offer a user-friendly experience. When you consider different SEO packages for your website, ensure you keep the same in mind.
Redesign Your Website
We learned how the visual stability of a website is crucial. You cannot afford to have a website with shifting objects. Apart from being a visual delight, the design should be simple. It would also help if you could reduce the number of pop-ups as they could be very frustrating.
Make Your Website Secure
Update or no update, the safety and security of customer information is paramount. Remember, we spoke about ‘HTTPS’ being one of the ranking factors. Nothing works better than an SSL certificate. It helps create encrypted sessions and change your website’s status from ‘HTTP’ to ‘HTTPS’.
Content Still Rules
For recent Google updates, content has always been the king. After all, why else would users visit a website? An experienced SEO company can help post content that draws users’ attention and resolves their inquisitiveness.
Know What Attracts Your Customers
We recommend keeping a tab of pages with the highest and lowest interactions. It will help you figure out what interests your customers and make better decisions.
As the name clarifies, mobile-first indexing is Google predominantly using the mobile version of any website for content indexing and determining the website ranking based on the results.
One of the primary reasons behind the search giant rolling out this update is the ever-increasing number of smartphone users globally.
Compared to the previous decade, an increasing percentage of users across the globe are using their hand-held devices for their daily browsing needs. Thus, making the need for a mobile-first approach a necessity.
Talking about the update, Google Search Central says,
“Historically, the index primarily used the desktop version of a page’s content when evaluating the relevance of a page to a user’s query. Since the majority of users now access Google Search with a mobile device, Googlebot primarily crawls and indexes pages with the smartphone agent going forward.”
Is the mobile-first approach or mobile content pages mandatory?
Now that the update is live, most of us would be evaluating the need for investment in mobile-content pages.
To clear the air, Google has mentioned,
“While it’s not required to have a mobile version of your pages to have your content included in Google’s search results, it is very strongly recommended.”
Yes, it is not necessary for you to invest in creating new mobile content pages, but it is recommended, especially if you run an eCommerce website.
Because in that case, most of your users are mobile users, and to reach them, you need to ensure your content is in line with the Mobile-first update.
The search giant further states,
“It’s important to note that there isn’t a separate mobile-first index; Google Search continues to use only one index. Google Search continues to show the URL that is the most appropriate to users (whether it’s a desktop or mobile URL) in Search results.”
Best Practices to follow to ensure minimal impact of Mobile-first update?
The primary focus of Google updates is to ensure an uncompromised, enhanced experience for your user. And if your website users are already happy with their user experience, there is nothing to worry about.
However, if the case is otherwise, there is a list of things you can do. Google suggests making the below-shared changes to ensure that Googlebot can access and render your mobile page content and resources.
- Keep the meta robot tags the same on both mobile and desktop sites: If you have used different meta robot tags on your mobile and desktop websites, it is time to change that. Google recommends site owners to keep the meta robot tags for both mobile and desktop sites the same. If you fail to do so, the search engine might not be able to crawl your website, eventually failing to index your page when your site is enabled for mobile-first indexing.
- Lazy load for primary content is a big NO: If you use lazy-loading for your website’s primary content, the Google bot won’t load or feature the content that requires user interaction. Some of the common examples of lazy-loading content is swiping, clicking, or typing to load. To avoid any issue, disable the lazy loading or somehow ensure that Google can see the lazy-loading enabled content.
- Don’t stop Google from crawling your resources: It is common among site owners to block specific URLs, especially those that lead the user to the same resources. This happens mainly because of the different links on mobile and desktop versions. If you want Google updates to crawl your URLs, make sure that you’re not blocking the URL with the disallow directive.
- Ensure content consistency and uniformity across both website versions: If you are uploading different content across mobile and desktop versions, stop that immediately. It can drastically affect your ranking on mobile. Avoid doing things like uploading a shorter version of desktop content on the mobile site, using different titles, etc. That said, you can make changes to your mobile site design to enhance the user’s experience: moving content into accordions or tabs, etc. Additionally, make sure to use the same clear and meaningful headings on the mobile site as you do on the desktop site.
- Check your structured data: Many websites have structured data. If that is the case with your site, too, double-check to ensure it is present on both desktop and mobile versions. To delve deeper, keep a unique eye on the below mentioned things: (a) Make sure that your mobile and desktop sites have the same structured data, (b) Use correct URLs in structured data, and (3) If you use Data Highlighter, train it on your mobile site.
- Keep the meta data such as meta title and description the same on both versions of your site.
- Fix the placement of your ads: If you’ve enabled ads on your website, be it Google Ads or ones from other sources, don’t let the placement create issues in your site’s user experience. It can impact your site’s mobile page ranking. Google has several guidelines to help Google Adsense users make the best use of the platform without impacting their user experience. Take a look at those guidelines here – Better Ads Standard. Follow the guidelines and compare your ads accordingly, especially for your mobile version. If something seems incorrect, get it fixed immediately.
- Check visual content on your website, be it images or videos: Take a look at the image best practices and evaluate the images on your site based on the guidelines. Make sure everything is good. For instance, Use high-quality images, use a supported format for images, don’t use URLs that change the page loads for images, make sure that the mobile site has the exact alt text for images as the desktop site, etc. There are similar guidelines for video content too. Take a look at the video best practices issued by Google updates and evaluate the videos on your site. Make sure every video is according to the guidelines. Additionally, don’t use URLs that change the page loads every time; use video formats and tags that Google supports, and use the same video structured data on your mobile site and desktop site. You can check your structured data for more information. Lastly, make sure that wherever the video is placed, it is easy to find for the user when viewed on a mobile device.
Google updates are not always bad. Neither are they permanent. It is crucial to keep your eyes and ears open for any updates that may impact your business.
Professional SEO services can help deliver relevant and long-term solutions. However, to choose one that best fits your bill, it is essential that you carefully scan all available SEO packages.