We don't often know too much about Google search algorithm updates until they have happened. However Google has given advance warning about a major update coming very soon - June 2021 in fact. In this post I will discuss what is changing, and what you can do to ensure that your website doesn't lose its position in the search engine rankings.
So what's changing to the search algorithm?
Google is updating its search algorithm to include a factor called Page Experience. This includes a bunch of different things but the focus is on website loading speed, especially on mobile devices. The aim is to encourage website owners to make sure that their websites are fast, safe and secure, stable, and work really well on mobile devices as well as desktops.
To support this, Google have launched Web Vitals - essentially a series of benchmarks used to measure and improve the speed and responsiveness of your website.
So overall, it's about making the experience for your website visitors as good as it can be - so it's definitely a good thing. And to help, Google have even provided some tools to help you - we'll talk about these a little later on.
When is this happening?
Originally Google had announced that these changes would happen in May 2021. However, they have been slightly postponed due to Covid, so now the roll-out will begin in mid-June and should be complete by the end of August. So don't expect to see sudden dramatic changes in search results - it'll probably be more of a gradual change.
What should I do about it?
Very often, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can seem very complicated and difficult. Fortunately for this update, there are some very simple steps that you can do yourself, even if you have no technical knowledge about how your website is built.
Step 1: Measure your website using the free Google tool
Go to Google's PageSpeed Insights tool, enter your website's URL and hit Analyze. Very quickly this will give you a score for both mobile and desktop.
Running the tool on this blog gives a score of 68 for mobile, and 75 for desktop. Not bad, but definitely room for improvement.
Step 2: Understand the details
A score is great, but why is it that score? Fortunately, if you scroll down a little the tool provides a breakdown and highlights the specific areas that need work.
At this point you may be thinking "What on earth is Largest Contentful Paint and all these other terms?". Helpfully Google provides loads of clear explanation for each of these terms; just follow the various links that Google provides.
Step 3: Fix the issues
Now that you have a clear view on which metrics are bringing your score down, you can start to address them.
The Google tool normally suggests a bunch of opportunities - these are simply things than can be done (such as resizing images) that will help your website load faster, but won't necessarily change the metric scores.
If your web developer doesn't have the time or skills to address the issues, or if you developed the site yourself and don't have the time or inclination to learn the technical skills required, contact Brew Digital and see if we can help.
Step 4: Measure again
Once changes have been made to your website, it's a good idea to test again using the Google tools. With the changes you have made, hopefully you should see an improvement in your scores.
Don't get hung up on trying to score 100 for both mobile and desktop - if you can then great, but don't let it become all consuming. After all, scoring 100 will not guarantee a high search engine ranking - it is just one factor. Things like the quality of your website content are much more important.
Some final tips...
Don't only measure your homepage!
It's very easy to focus on your homepage; after all that's the usual starting point. But don't forget, Google looks at all your pages and so do your visitors (hopefully), so be sure to measure a selection of pages across your website - especially the most popular ones.
Retest on a regular basis
Don't think of this as a one-off activity. You should do this on a regular basis to ensure that your website isn't dropping its score. The frequency you do it will depend on how frequently your website changes, so discuss with your web team to see what is appropriate.
Get help managing your website
Managing a website and keeping it up to date with fresh content, security updates, technology updates, and keeping on top of Google changes like this can be very time consuming, and can take time away from your core business. So work with an agency like Brew Digital who can do the heavy lifting for you, and free up your time to focus on what you need to.