Back in May, Google announced its plans for a new ranking algorithm update – Google Page Experience. To the SEO community, it didn’t come as too much of a surprise. After all, over the past few years, Google Search has added several user experience (UX) criteria to its ever-expanding list of ranking factors, including page load time and mobile responsiveness.
Now, you can officially save the date: May 2021 is when UX, combined with Core Web Vitals, will become a ranking factor. That gives SEOs, marketers and web owners just under six months notice.
When May rolls around, you can expect Google to highlight search results that offer users an excellent page experience. Put simply, this update will take seamless UX from a nice-to-have necessity.
The update shouldn’t cause too much of a rankings shake-up, because page experience isn’t really introducing anything new – it comprises several existing Google Search ranking factors, such as whether a page runs on HTTPS, whether the content jumps around as a page loads and whether there are any intrusive interstitials present on the page.
What comes as a surprise in the most recent announcement, however, is that, when the Page Experience update goes live, Google will also start testing ways to display visual indicators of UX in Search results. Google is currently in the process of developing a visual indicator to identify pages that have met all page experience criteria – a way to show users, in no uncertain terms, which pages are worth exploring. If the test proves effective, who knows what havoc that little indicator could wreak?
At the moment, there are still several unknowns. It’s unclear how big an update this will be and how much it stands to affect search results. Many SEOs expect minimal fallout since the vast majority of page experience signals already factor into search algorithms – but nobody can be sure until it actually happens.
We also don’t know how long these visual UX indicators will be tested before Google decides whether it’s worth displaying them in its Search results. All we know is that we should be seeing them cropping up on Search results fairly soon. Either way, it should sound the alarm for web owners to pay closer attention to Core Web Vitals and UX.
As for preparation, we could all work on improving something. As it currently stands, surprisingly few websites – as low as 15 percent – are optimized well enough to pass a Core Web Vitals assessment. Now is the time to put in the work and make a difference to your rankings when May rolls around. With a user-friendly website (and a visual indicator to boot), you could easily swing this update in your favor.
More SEO News You Can Use
Google Webmasters Is Getting a New Look – and a New Name: Say goodbye to Google Webmasters because it’s officially rebranding as Google Search Central. In its final Google Webmaster Central blog, Google explained that the archaic term “webmaster” wasn’t doing a good enough job describing modern web professionals, who are everything from SEOs to online marketers to web developers. With the new name (and a new mascot) comes a new domain: All help documentation and blogs will be consolidated onto one site in the coming days, so keep a lookout.
There’s a Search Engine Quietly Saving the World: At times, it can feel like Google is the only search engine that exists, but there are many others out there with dedicated user bases. One of these is Ecosia, a Berlin-based not-for-profit that donates 80 percent of its profits to reforestation. A fascinating Forbes article reveals that, since its inception in 2009, Ecosia has planted more than 113 million trees in places like Brazil and Ethiopia – that’s approximately one tree for every 45 searches. More climate-conscious users are migrating to Ecosia, but luckily, optimizing for the search engine isn’t hard – Ecosia uses Bing’s search engine, so if your site performs well on Bing, it should do the same on Ecosia.
Not Sure About the Weight of Bing’s Ranking Signals? Neither is Bing: In a recent 302 of a Kind Facebook Live Video, hosts Izzi Smith and Marcus Tandler interviewed Fabrice Canel, Microsoft’s principal program manager. Canel revealed that, while Bing knows what ranking signals it uses, virtually every single one is put through machine learning. And it’s the machines, not the humans, who decide the weights of those signals. It’s been no secret that Bing relies heavily on machine learning, but the true extent of it is pretty incredible. The interview has several interesting nuggets of information, and it’s definitely worth a watch.
Now We Know Exactly How to Optimize for Pinterest: Do you believe you’re making the most of your Pinterest account? A Search Engine Journal article by Jessica Foster might have you thinking twice. In a highly informative deep-dive, Foster lists 12 ways to optimize your Pinterest profile and website for SEO. The article does a great job of making it clear just how untapped Pinterest’s potential is as a driver of organic traffic, and its easy-to-follow instructions make an optimized Pinterest profile a totally achievable goal.
Moz Makes a Great Case for Updating Your Content: Back in 2013, Moz published the exceptionally successful blog “How to Rank: 25 Step Master SEO Blueprint.” Since going live, the blog has brought an impressively steady – but dwindling – stream of traffic to the site, so Moz decided it was time for an update. The result is a must-read comprehensive checklist full of brand-new information – a lot has happened in the SEO scene in the past seven years! But Moz took it one step further, releasing not just the updated blog but another article outlining their reasoning for the update and the goals they hope to achieve. Or, as they call it, “the SEO behind the SEO.” It’s tough to say which one is more useful, so why not read them both?
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