What the Latest Google Algorithm Updates Mean to Your Site
Quick overview of what you’ll learn:
- How Google has adjusted its algorithm for page experience
- The three key metrics this update focused on: FID, CLS and LCP
- How the update will impact organic site traffic
- The tools you can leverage to prepare your site for these metrics
A brand’s search engine optimization strategy lives or dies by Google, but search engine optimization goes well beyond keywords and into on-page optimization. So when the search engine that dominates the market makes a move, Ameex Technologies doesn’t just pay attention; we examine the data and ensure our clients’ sites are ready for it.
Discover how Google algorithm updates in 2021 will impact your site development, and what you can do to keep your sites performing at their best.
What major algorithm updates has Google already made?
Google remains the top choice for searchers because it works to provide users with the best experience and results it can. Google updates, past and future, are always focused on providing users a seamless and relevant session.
There are a couple types of algorithm updates Google makes. Core algorithm updates are broad updates to an algorithm that result in a significant change. These changes can be related to how search ranking factors are weighted, how they interact, or how they form a cohesive algorithm.
Historically Google has provided specific guidance for unique algorithm updates, but not usually guidance or notification for most core algorithm updates. Over the last decade, Google has released a number of algorithm updates to better deliver content to their users and, in turn, increase Google’s relevance. These include:
- The 2011 Panda update mitigated poor-quality content and may have impacted 12% of search.
- The 2012 Penguin update penalized sites that bought spammy links and used other black-hat techniques like keyword stuffing.
- The 2013 Hummingbird update, which coincided with the Knowledge Graph rollout, added contextual and semantic search and marked the start of Google catering to the human side of search.
- The 2014 Pigeon update better served local search results to users, and impact varied among verticals.
- Google RankBrain in 2015-16 made search more personalized with machine learning. RankBrain is one of the top three Google ranking signals.
- Two mobile updates in 2017 and 2018 penalized sites that used interstitial popups on mobile devices and elevated the importance of a mobile-friendly experience.
- In 2018 an update made page speed a ranking factor for mobile search, requiring pages to load in two seconds or less. This led to a 20% reduction in abandonment rate for all navigations initiated from search.
So how does Google’s latest algorithm update make search more efficient for users? It’s all about the page experience.
How did Google’s algorithm update?
The page experience update that just rolled out in 2021 could impact 10% to 15% of the approximately 4 billion Google searches per day.
Part of this unique algorithm update incorporates the Core Web Vitals report in Google Search Console and makes it a ranking factor for search engine results. When Google released this report last spring, it indicated a direction that Google wants the webmaster to go in.
Google had already provided the metrics and benchmarks sites will need to hit to meet standards and influence ranking:
- First Input Delay (FID): under 100 ms
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): under 2.5 seconds
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): score of less than 0.1
FID measures how long it takes the browser to respond to the first interaction from a user. A low FID means the site reacts quickly when a user clicked a link, tapped a button, etc.
LCP helps measure perceived load speed—if your main content loads in under 2.5 seconds, you’ll help show users (and Google) the usefulness of your page.
CLS measures visual stability and provides insight into whether your site often shifts layout unexpectedly, which can annoy users, to say the least.
With these benchmarks in mind, let’s look at how you can test if your site is hitting them—and make updates if you’re not.
How can I prepare my site for Google algorithm updates?
You likely already use many of the tools you’ll need to test your site, such as:
- PageSpeed Insights: This Google tool checks multiple metrics that impact your entire website’s page speed rating.
- Mobile-Friendly Test: See if your website performs as well on mobile as it does on desktop.
- Chrome User Experience Report: Collect real-time data for each Core Web Vital.
- Google Search Console: Get a glimpse into what is happening within your website, based on real-world usage from actual consumers.
There are a few common causes of poor LCP. Here’s a list of with how you can mitigate:
- Slow server response times: optimize your server, route users to a nearby CDN, cache assets, serve HTML pages cache first, and establish third-party connections early.
- Render-blocking JS and CSS: minify CSS, defer non-critical CSS and inline critical CSS.
- Slow resource load times: elements that can impact LCP include elements, elements inside an element, elements, elements with background images loaded via the URL function as opposed to a CSS gradient, and block-level elements containing text nodes or other inline-level text elements.
- Client-side rendering: minimize critical JS, use server-side rendering and use pre-rendering.
The most common causes of poor CLS include images without dimensions, ads, embeds and iframes without dimensions, dynamically injected content, web fonts causing FOIT/FOUT, and actions waiting for a network response before updating Document Object Model (DOM).
Let the experts bring your site up to speed
Is your company ready for the latest Google algorithm updates? Get in touch with Ameex Technologies to make sure your site rises above and beyond for your users—and search engine results pages.