There are many avenues to which the wizardry (algorithms) that Google use for casting judgment (ranking) on your site travel. As with much of technology, the further you go, the more you learn, and the better things become. This snowball effect does mean that every time the ball revolves, it gets bigger, with more snow, more speed, and more momentum.
Page Performance and Practicality
One of the ways that Google analyses the ranking of your page is with user experience. The meat and potatoes of which are ‘how well users perceive and interact with the elements of your site’. This isn’t the site’s content, it’s things like page layout, loading times, mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, etc.
According to Google, the update due in May 2021 (not long to go now) is set to change how things operate in relation to your rankings, again. This is nothing new to us in the world of digital marketing, as we mentioned, the snowball will never cease to increase. Adapting with the changes, however, is how we stay ahead of the game.
What we know about the changes are as follows.
Sending Signals – Vital Statistics
Additional signals (Google’s feelers) will be added for Page Experience. You can find out how your page performs across a wide range of tools but we really admire tools such as:
- GTMetrix (recently updated to include metrics related to Googles Page Speed Insights tool)
- WebPageTest.org (allows local speed tests in your specific region and has also been recently updated to include a “web vitals” section)
As you may have seen Google is coining these new signals as “vitals” and we’re sure you haven’t heard the last of this, if anything this is only the beginning. These page experience signals will report back with how well your page performs across a variety of areas, Google have confirmed these will start to be factored into keyword rankings so they need to be taken seriously if you want to perform at the top of the SERPs.
What Are The Signals?
These signals are your core web vitals (loading, interactivity, visual stability), mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS, and no intrusive interstitials. We’ll take you through each of these points in greater detail below:
Core Web Vitals
This is one of the easier ones to explain. Your website must pass the Google Mobile Friendly Test. Don’t automatically assume that your website will pass its not a given, if there are any issues Google will tell you directly once the test has been carried out.
Does your website have an SSL certificate and if so is it installed correctly? Google really isn’t a fan of insecure (HTTP) websites. Also have you checked Google Search Console to see if you have any issues in the security issues section? If there is any malware on your site or anything which Google believes to be an issue which may compromise a visitors safe browsing experience you will find all the info in there.
This is perhaps the one where we see the most confusion or the least amount of knowledge on in the industry. Google announced back in 2017 that it was taking a stance against Mobile Pop-Ups. Google doesn’t feel they add value to the user experience and has threatened to penalise sites which insist on doing this. Tests have since shown that very little evidence of penalties actually being given happened after their announcement in 2017, however they have declared this will now come into force in May 2021. We have simplified this for you below:
Against Google’s Guidelines: anything which blocks out most or all of the screen.
An acceptable amount of screen space used by a pop-up on mobile: the below is the only kind of pop-up size on mobile Google says is okay.
In short, greater weight will be given to your page’s performance. This has always been a huge part of Google’s system anyway; it’s just having an overhaul. Google says that these signals will be updated on a yearly basis. This means they may choose to add or remove elements or readjust the weight given to any particular object’.
All is Well for the All Rounders
So, focusing on your sites operational elements will be essential for rankings. This doesn’t mean that everything else should fall by the wayside; far from it in fact. As we said at the start, this is consistently a work-in-progress. If you’re site boasts killer content, that’ll still boost your rankings. But, your site’s efficiency will now play a further, more detailed part of the prize.
Google are all about happy users. If your website is pleasing on the eye, runs without issue and is packed full of exceptional, engaging content, Google will be watching, and their signals will be reporting back gold stars.