In late May 2020, Google announced an algorithm change to its search feature. While this in itself is not unusual, the considerable lead time for this particular Google algorithm update is.
This update is not due to take effect until 2021. The search engine powerhouse has said it will give a six-month notice before this algorithm change takes effect.
This upcoming change will focus on page experience by evaluating websites' values based on how positive users find their overall experiences on the site.
Thus, website usability will become a ranking factor. Here is what you need to know to prepare for this upcoming shift in Google's search algorithms.
Good News for Sites Users Love
Some industry experts do not expect significant changes from the new algorithm because Google already considers many of the factors regarding user experience in search engine rankings.
What is the user experience? Google explains its interpretation and aims for its algorithm update this way:
"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."
Google wants to reward websites that make it easy for people to load, navigate, and understand them.
Also, Google's algorithm update is not limited to its Chrome browser. It will be focused on achieving an optimal user experience across all browser platforms.
Core Web Vitals
Google has already moved in the direction of emphasizing positive website user experiences by instituting the Core Web Vitals in May 2020.
This set of user-centered metrics is aimed at improving the quality of user interaction with the internet by offering guidelines for individual websites.
The initial three metrics focus on these main factors:
- Page loading
- Visual stability
- The level of interactivity
The first metric looks at how long it takes the largest element of content on a website to load. The second measures how much of a website's content jumps around, which might cause users to click on one button when they meant to click on another.
The third metric examines how long it takes for users to be able to interact with the page once it has loaded.
In addition to these Web Vitals, the upcoming algorithm change will also examine additional factors that have become increasingly important as the internet and the way people use it continues to evolve.
According to an infographic released by Google, they are:
- Degree of mobile-friendliness
- No intrusive or distracting interstitials
- Availability and quality of HTTPS Encryption
- Secure browsing free from malware
While all of this may sound theoretical, the upcoming changes will affect specific practices, including search engine optimization.
Google's Page Experience Update and SEO
While industry insiders predict the upcoming algorithm change will not impact SEO practices significantly, some marketing experts, including Neil Patel, do see it having an effect.
He points out that users like to search by brand name. Therefore, if you run a small shoe store, by focusing on popular brand names you stock in your shop, you can rank well even without being a national household name yourself.
Google's new search algorithm will be designed to favor user-friendly sites that people enjoy visiting rather than giving high rankings to well-known names.
Google's recent algorithm updates have served to level the internet playing field in terms of search engine rankings.
They make it easier for smaller merchants who have highly interactive websites to rank well through publishing quality content that provides valuable, original material.
By ranking based on the quality of site design, Google is democratizing the internet even further.
Content Quality Still Matters
While the page experience algorithm may usher in some changes, overall, Google still favors and rewards sites with great content. Neil Patel breaks down the process of creating compelling content that will touch and guide readers to take actions you want them to take, which is, after all, the ultimate goal.
However, within the body of content you create, there are specific elements that can lift it from being bland and detrimental for search rankings to be effective and respected. Great content should be:
- Designed for your target audience
- Interesting and attention-grabbing
- Oriented for action
Your website, therefore, should continue to give users meaningful content. When this same website full of quality material is easy for people to navigate and use, you have a winner.
Google's new algorithm is all about improving user experience overall, which is something that every merchant should be focused on anyway.