Google is Changing the SEO Game in 2021
Google broke their tradition of silence about upcoming algorithm changes. This time they announced, long in advance, their upcoming Core Web Vitals algorithm. This change is a doozy and right now only 12-13% of 20,000 random websites tested pass muster. This will shake up web search as keywords lose their power to user experience.
I think most people would agree that the Google search engine is one of the most impactful achievements in human technology. Rather than merely harnessing and organizing the Internet, Google has re-created the Internet and digital marketing. Their dominance continues as they recruit the greatest minds of our world to fine tune its processes and make its user experience more precise. Google’s continues to dominate the market: to many in the world, Google = the Internet.
Google’s algorithm is influenced by thousands of different factors that play into whether or not it will display your website in an individual’s search results. These factors are constantly tweaked to ensure each individual gets what they want. By now, website owners realize that pleasing Google’s algorithm is the difference between bringing in traffic and customers, or finding their website buried under millions. If they don’t, they should! This nearly trillion dollar search engine tweaks it’s algorithm more than 400 times per year on average and cannot be tricked for very long. When they find, you did – hell hath no fury like a search engine scorned!
Google must be convinced of a site’s real legitimacy and appeal to users with the proper web page as the answer to their search query. (Keep in mind, Google ranks pages and not websites). This new algorithm established just that; the legitimacy of websites from a user perspectives using what they call Core Web Vitals.
COVID19 and Google’s Gift to Businesses
Normally Google does not tell anyone exactly what changes they are making and many times, they won’t even announce a change. Changes are noticed after the fact and analyzed by SEO professionals.
So what changed?
The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a massive shift of business toward digital platforms. To alleviate the strain, Google broke its longtime practice of changing its algorithm with little to no notice. Instead, Google has released information about major upcoming updates over six months in advance. This was an attempt to give savvy webmasters and business owners the opportunity and extra time to adapt their displays, giving them the chance to avoid being buried in search results for unknowingly breaking Google’s new rules when the update goes live.
In a rare event, Google laid out exactly what their new algorithm shift is looking for on web pages.
Unlike previous changes (which impacted 10-15% of websites), this massive overhaul will affect every website – no one is safe! Luckily, we have a year to implement these changes, but staying ahead of the curve gives savvy website owners the opportunity for the upper hand when the new algorithm is implemented.
What’s Coming in 2021
The new Google update to be implemented in 2021 will focus on a newly important metric for ranking: Core Web Vitals (User Experience). Google is aware that its current ranking system currently allows larger, name-recognized companies with lower quality pages to bully smaller companies out of search results. Because Google’s current big fish criteria are brand strength and backlinks, smaller companies are sometimes unable to compete. That may not sound like a big deal, but this is the difference between a successful business funnel of incoming clients, or a dried up well of traffic. Now, utilizing new technology added to their RankBrainTM engine, Google is prioritizing user experience. This offers an unprecedented opportunity for smaller brands to level the playing field and to gain market share. By focusing more on a user’s experience, website owners will find themselves aligned with Google’s expectations, resulting in the opportunity for higher rankings and more traffic.
In the past, user experience was certainly a factor in Google’s ranking algorithm. For instance, since 2015 and the rise of cellphone internet usage, Google has penalized sites that don’t have mobile friendly experiences in its algorithm, as well as penalizing sites that users click off of quickly.
What does this mean for YOUR website?
However, this update is far more encompassing, and indicates that Google will now consider user experience to be the defining feature of a site – not keywords, backlinks, brand recognition, or other traditional search engine optimization tools. Rather, Google is reshaping the way the Internet operates – forcing brands to care about their customer’s experience and satisfaction. Websites will need to answer consumer’s questions and not just be a ‘Who we are” brochure anymore.
Expect this algorithm to include ranking hits based on:
Page and graphic element loading speed
- Valid security certifications
2. How quickly the page responds after a user has clicked something
3. Whether or not the layout shifts frequently when loading (which could cause users to click on things they didn’t intend)
4. Intrusive interstitials (no more badly coded pop-ups!)
….to name a few.
Source: Google Webmaster Blog
The full posting about the update can be found here.
So Why Does This Matter?
There is a lot of information to swallow here without the expertise and experience needed to adjust your site to fit Google’s expectations. As a business owner, you aren’t expected to be an expert in every discipline needed to run and market your business – if you were, you’d have no time to actually run the business you’ve actually built.
Many business owners try to resort to a variety of “free tools and audits” to determine how their website is currently performing. While these resources can be tempting, they are mostly nonsensical sales tactics for a one-size-fits all preset package. Some audits are even complete fakes. We got offered (and turned down) a tool that would allow us to choose whether a site passes or fails BEFORE running the report! Not only do you end up with a mostly useless product, but these tools are missing about 80% of what convinces Google into thinking you deserve to rank higher. Success rate? Mostly nil unless you are an agency trying to get/fool clients!
Unlike those providers, we value our relationship with Google and our inside contacts. All of our methods are genuine hard work in compliance with Google’s rules. Instead of resorting to these ineffective methods, why not seek out an expert?
It is vital for business owners looking to come out ahead during and after COVID19 to submit their websites to an expert review so that they can respond to Google and the industry. It doesn’t hurt and advice is 100% free. We do not believe in “tricking” search engines, but rather creating real solutions that focus on bringing in more business and helping your business reach its full potential.
The world is changing, and Google is changing with it, presenting a unique opportunity to be part of the new future of the Internet. Let us help you keep up, and redefine your place in the business world.