SEO News You Can Use: Martin Splitt Calls Page Experience Ranking Signals a “Tiebreaker”

SEO News You Can Use

Much like a deferred college exam, even with the extension from May to mid-June, it feels like the Page Experience update has crept up on us, and we’re not ready. Most of us could have studied a little harder. And now that the rollout is mere weeks away, there’s that familiar sense of SEO panic in the air. Can you feel it? 

If last-minute guidance is what you need now more than ever, Google’s Martin Splitt is the best person to give it. And, thankfully, he has. During a live “Search Engine Journal Show” appearance, the founder of Search Engine Journal (SEJ), Loren Baker, asked Splitt for advice for site owners who feared their website would not be optimized in time for Page Experience. Splitt’s advice? Stop panicking. Because the boost provided by the Page Experience update is what Google calls a “tiebreaker.”

If this sounds familiar, it’s because it isn’t the first time we’ve heard the term “tiebreaker” in the past few weeks. Many SEOs have been speculating that this could be the case following a Search Off the Record podcast where Splitt and Google’s John Mueller referred to the page speed ranking signal as a “tiebreaker” in a hypothetical situation. We even reported on it

So, it seems increasingly likely that the Page Experience update won’t cause the massive rankings shifts many feared it would. Rather, if two sites are considered equal by every other measure, the update will give one of these sites the edge over the other. In other words, regardless of how excellent your technical SEO is, rankings still come down to the content that best answers a user’s search query. Content is still king, and Page Experience isn’t powerful enough to usurp it.  

This doesn’t mean you should ignore optimizing for the Page Experience ranking signals entirely. If you get left behind, you will feel the effects, and it won’t be pretty. While Splitt did confirm that the ranking signals are lightweight, he still stressed the importance of site speed – not just for SEO but for users. 

This information should come as a relief to site owners whose Core Web Vitals scores still need work and encouragement to those who haven’t yet begun. Splitt has said, in so many words, that it’s never too late to start. In fact, it’s perfectly acceptable to make optimizing for Page Experience a long-term goal. So, just do it. If your website still needs some work, find a reliable Google Page Experience guide, roll up your sleeves and get to it. In the case of a tiebreaker, wouldn’t you want to be the one who wins?

More SEO News You Can Use

Improved Core Web Vitals Could Already Be Boosting Your Rankings: If you’ve been hard at work improving your Core Web Vitals scores in preparation for the upcoming Page Experience update, you might already be noticing improvements in your rankings. You’re not imagining it: On the latest “Search Engine Journal Show,” Martin Splitt confirmed that some pages would already be reaping the benefits of preparing for the update. But it’s not because the Page Experience update is being tested right now, or even that it’s rolling out early, as some SEOs have speculated. Splitt says it’s simply because page speed has always been a ranking factor, so if those scores are improving, it makes sense that your rankings would too. In this case, it has nothing to do with Page Experience – but lucky you if the payoff is starting early!

Google Announces New Technology to Combat Language-Model Bias: We’ve barely recovered from being introduced to MUM, and Google is already bringing someone new into our lives. In an article published on the Google AI Blog, the search engine announced KELM – Knowledge-Enhanced Language Model Pre-training – as an effort to reduce bias, decrease harmful content and improve factual accuracy. KELM is, essentially, the rational voice in BERT’s ear reminding it not to be such a jerk. While BERT is trained on web and other additional documents, where bias abounds, KELM proposes the addition of trustworthy and factual content using knowledge graphs. Google explains that knowledge graphs, which consist of structured data, are inherently factual because the information is extracted from “more trusted sources,” and human editors remove inappropriate and inaccurate content. Google has not said whether KELM is currently in use, but, as Roger Montti points out in an SEJ blog, its impact could be felt further than Search.

If You’re Struggling To Get Your Small Site Indexed, John Mueller May Have the Answer: On a recent Search Central SEO office-hours hangout, an eCommerce publisher asked Google’s John Mueller why their pages were not being indexed. At just 500 pages, the user’s eCommerce site was a small one. Mueller explained that site promotion is important for a small site that needs indexing because, in certain instances, Google needs some “encouragement.” Promotion in the form of paid search, leveraging social media followers or other means of advertising to attract visitors can give Google the impetus it needs to stick around and explore for a while. Though it sounds like a challenging task, it’s not. Mueller stressed that it doesn’t take much to get Google to crawl a small website – just a few backlinks is more than enough.

Here Are a Few Vital Tips for Technical SEO Practitioners and Website Developers From Google I/O: Last week, everyone was so caught up in the fascinating new features Google announced at its I/O conference that we ignored the technical SEO tidbits that matter just as much. A Search Engine Land article by Detlef Johnson does an excellent job of summarizing announcements made by the Chrome team in the “What’s New for the Web Platform” keynote. The blog lists a slew of new security features and progressive web app features introduced by Google’s Ben Galbraith and Dion Almaer. Check out the article to find out about these technologies (most of which are already available). Taking them into account right now is yet another way to make sure you’re on the right side of history when the Page Experience update launches and technical SEO matters more than ever.

The Google Marketing Livestream Has Introduced Several Brand-New Features and Future Rollouts: Advertisers, take note! Several important announcements were made on Thursday’s Google Marketing Livestream Keynote. Many focused on privacy and FLoC – something that will affect advertisers greatly in the months to come. With first-party data set to become even more valuable, Google said custom audiences will roll out to almost all advertisers, and certain restrictions around who is eligible to use these custom audiences will be dropped. Automation is another focus for the future of Google Ads. Two automated tools which have been well-received – the Target ROAS bid strategy and Performance Max – will be expanding to additional channels. And, to stand out on search engine results pages (SERPs), advertisers will now be able to include images with their Search ads. There’s plenty more where these came from, so set aside an hour to watch the livestream for yourself. 

Editor’s Note: “SEO News You Can Use” is a weekly blog post posted every Monday morning only on, rounding up all the top SEO news from around the world. Our goal is to make a one-stop-shop for everyone looking for SEO news, education and for hiring an SEO expert with our comprehensive SEO agency directory.

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