When Google’s Page Experience update began rolling out in June, SEOs were sold the dream that this would be what pushed them ahead of their competitors on SERPs.
Many of us had spent months optimizing for Core Web Vitals and other page experience ranking signals, and if you were one of them, you know that it was anything but easy. In fact, preparing for Page Experience was such a massive undertaking that Google gave us an unprecedented amount of forewarning – a full year – to get our sites up to scratch. For a search engine that loves nothing more than pulling the rug out from under us, this seemed to signal that the update would be colossal.
So, we got to work, and we worked for months. A reward for our efforts was dangled like a carrot – but, as George Nguyen at Search Engine Land pointed out in a blog, many SEOs feel this reward was never received.
Now that the Page Experience update has been live for a couple of days shy of two months, we can begin to evaluate the effects. And it’s safe to say that very few SEOs, if any, have seen significant ranking changes since Core Web Vitals became a set of ranking signals. Even sites that originally had terrible scores and managed to get them all in the green barely reaped a single reward, and many are saying the time investment simply wasn’t worth it.
But Nguyen makes a valid point in his article: Perhaps it’s true that Core Web Vitals haven’t done much for rankings – but return on investment (ROI) can’t only be measured on SERPs. Core Web Vitals and other page experience ranking signals exist to create a seamless user experience (UX) on a website. And excellent UX can result in benefits like a higher conversion rate, lower bounce rate and more adds-to-cart. One SEO posted screenshots on Twitter showing a substantial increase in clicks and impressions.
The fact is that Google is prioritizing UX, and every change it makes from here on out will be laying its path towards the ultimate goal of an unmatched experience for every one of its users. Riding the wave is anything but a bad idea. So with Google having recently introduced Priority Hints, an experimental new way to enable optimal loading and improve Core Web Vitals, there’s no reason not to register for the trial and try it out.
It’s difficult not to equate excellent optimization with high rankings – it’s the result we are all chasing. But maybe, with Core Web Vitals, there’s been a positive impact after all; we’re just looking for it in the wrong place.
More SEO News You Can Use
Say Hello to the Zucker-, Er, Metaverse: Facebook is dead. Okay, not quite. Although, after the past few weeks the company has had, they probably wish they were. But forget damning whistleblower allegations and antitrust lawsuits for a minute. On Thursday, Facebook announced its rebranding in a virtual meeting about the corporation’s future. This comes after a period of increased scrutiny for its alleged spread of misinformation and hate speech. But it’s not their problem anymore, because they’re not Facebook! They’re “Meta,” a name that has been chosen to encompass the advanced technology the company is working on and its focus on what it calls “the metaverse.” In this brave new world, Facebook will no longer be a social media company but a “metaverse company.” Virtual and augmented reality will be the key drivers of this new digital experience. So now that we have a new identity, let’s see if anything actually changes.
Mueller Gives Google’s Definition of “Quality Content”: Quality content has become a throwaway phrase in the SEO world that essentially means informative, well-written content people are a) searching for and b) want to read. But in a recent Search Central office-hours hangout, John Mueller gave us Google’s understanding of “quality content” – and, interestingly, it’s not exactly what we thought. Mueller explained that quality content doesn’t simply refer to the text of an article. Instead, it means the overall quality of your website, including everything from layout and design to page speed. All of these are factors Google considers in deeming a piece of content to be high-quality. This gives the concept of quality content a much wider scope, and it links back to that thing we keep harping on about over and over again: user experience.
Google Can’t Tell the Difference Between a Good Image and a Bad One: A picture may be worth a thousand words, but Google, apparently, “doesn’t care.” This is what John Mueller said in the same office-hours hangout when a viewer asked if Google’s algorithm understands the difference between a meaningful, useful image and a gray square. Perhaps unexpectedly, Mueller revealed that Google does not look at specific images on a web page and decide that one is good and another is bad. All it does with your images is index them to use in image search – and that’s the only place where Google takes into account what the content of the image is. This feedback strengthens Mueller’s statement that having an image on your page won’t help your SEO. However, this doesn’t mean images are a complete waste of time because they can make your site more appealing to visitors. And isn’t that what matters?
Google Introduces a New Policy Enabling Minors To Request the Removal of Their Images From Search: Back in August, Google announced a number of safeguards it would be introducing to protect minors online. Now, doubling down on its commitment to making the internet safer for kids and teens, the company on Wednesday announced a new policy and tool that gives minors and their parents or guardians the ability to request removal of their images from Search results in just a few steps. This move will give minors some much-needed control over their online footprint. While Google can’t remove an image from the website it is hosted on, it is able to ensure that the images will no longer appear in the Google Images tab or as thumbnails in any Google Search feature. But that alone is a major step in the right direction.
Automatically Generated Chapters Are Now a Source of Metadata for YouTube Search: As the second-biggest search engine after Google, YouTube is a social media platform whose updates are worth following. And if its latest announcement is anything to go by, your YouTube SEO strategy is about to change. Up until now, manually defined chapters were the only ones used in ranking YouTube search results. But now, across all videos, chapters that are automatically generated by YouTube will also be used as a source of metadata for ranking. This update will initially roll out on mobile and could have an impact on how your videos are ranked: It means what YouTube’s algorithm deems as significant moments in your video will now factor into its ranking system – and, as Matt Southern points out in a Search Engine Journal blog, machine learning is rarely perfect. Luckily, manual chapters override auto-generated ones, and chapters that have been incorrectly generated can be replaced with ones you create.
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