Google changes its search algorithm between one and two times a day, according to estimates.
Keeping up with changes to Google algorithms that affect your SEO is vital if you want to stay ahead of your competition. While many of these changes are minor, there are occasions where Google rolls out a major algorithmic update that can significantly impact your SEO performance.
Google algorithms are a multifaceted system that pulls statistics from its search index and instantly produces the top outcomes for a query.
A combination of algorithms and ranking factors are used by the search engine to provide relevant and ranked webpage results on its search engine results pages (SERPs).
While Google does not reveal its top ranking factors, we do know of a few that are important to stay on top of. Consider it part of what we like to call SEO for Dummies.
Optimizing your efforts for ranking factors puts you in the best position to respond to algorithm changes as they come.
First, let’s take a look at factors that web developers and digital marketing specialists need to know when creating a website with solid SEO practices.
Google Ranking Factors
We all know how frustrating it can be to go to a website and have to wait for pages to load. We live in a fast-paced world and wasting time waiting for pages to load usually ends in us leaving that site and finding another.
When it comes to your business, getting consumers to your website and giving them a positive experience is critical. Failing to keep someone engaged due to slow page speed (poor user experience) not only turns them off to your site but it triggers Google to lower your search results ranking.
It can be tempting to overload pages with lots of keywords, thinking it will help them to rank higher in search queries. However, using too many or the wrong keywords can cause the opposite result.
It is important to remember to use relevant keywords and create useful content around them. Content should always have a specific purpose to reach the right audience at the right place on the user journey.
Website Design and Quality Links
Having a website that is easy to navigate is critical to not only retain visitors but also to rank higher in a Google search.
“Creating specific landing pages with links that take them directly to the information they seek will help prevent frustration and interference along the consumer journey,” according to Brad Weber, Founder and CEO of the Avita Group, a company specializing in digital marketing in Calabasas, California and worldwide.
Links should be checked regularly to be sure they aren’t broken and lead to relevant content.
While the majority of shoppers use a PC or desktop computer when buying goods online, nearly 40% choose to shop using a mobile device. To avoid a downward slope to your Google rankings, it is important to be sure your website is mobile-friendly.
All links, landing pages, images, and content should be viewable and useful regardless of how your website is being viewed.
SSL Certification Status
Having a secure website is important to Google because it shows visitors that your website is trustworthy. This is especially important for e-commerce sites, as it gives shoppers a secure way to enter payment information. HTTPS is more secure than HTTP, so having an SSL Certification can benefit how your content ranks.
Visitors to your site come because they are looking for something. If they find what they are looking for, they will stay on your site longer and make repeat trips.
Similarly, if visitors come to your site and quickly leave or visit and don’t return, this can negatively affect your Google rankings. This is known as having a high bounce rate, and it is a stat you certainly want to keep in check. You may be attracting the wrong audience or your site may be lacking in user-friendliness or relevant content.
Consistent, high-quality content is the key to keeping users engaged and avoiding damage to your rankings.
Now that the content has been created properly, let’s look at the latest Google algorithm updates every website owner should know.
Google Algorithm Updates to Optimize SEO
If anything can be said of Google, staying dormant is certainly not one of them.
Google changes more than it stays the same, and it is more important than ever to stay informed and adjust accordingly. Be sure to regularly check your site’s web traffic analytics and search rankings for your target keywords.
Google outlines all updates on their site as they roll them out, but we have outlined the most recent critical updates below.
1 – Passage Ranking Update
The goal of the passage ranking update is to provide answers to very specific queries in the form of a paragraph or sentence as the featured snippet.
It allows users to find information quickly without needing to read through an entire page. So instead of optimizing your content for passage ranking, you would target long-tail keywords, supply thorough, high-quality content on the subject, and configure your site content accurately to make indexing easier for Googlebot.
2 – About This Result Update
Earlier in this article, we mentioned the importance of having a trustworthy website. The About This Result Google update provides added context to individual search results to help the user determine if the results will be helpful to them and is a safe site to visit.
The box that pops up provides the following information:
- The date the page’s website was indexed by Google
- Whether the connection to the site is secure
- The search terms you used
- Any other websites containing the search terms that link to the page
- Page language
- Relevance of the search in many regions
The best step you can take to optimize your SEO for this update is to make sure your site is SSL certified (HTTPS) and make sure you have quality backlinks.
3 – Mobile-First (100%) Indexing Update
As mentioned above, mobile-friendliness is a very important ranking factor with Google.
With the rise of mobile traffic over the last ten years, Google is placing major importance on how well the mobile version of your website performs and will bestow ranking positions accordingly.
As of June 2021, Mobile-First Indexing is the default for all websites, old and new.
To optimize for mobile-friendliness, make sure your site is responsive, you are using lazy loading and image compression, and you are performing regular manual popup tests and form functionalities on your mobile phone.
4 – Product Reviews Update
Product reviews are becoming more and more important to online shoppers.
Any chance to feel more confident about a purchase builds trust and creates repeat customers.
With the Product Reviews Update, Google encourages in-depth product reviews using intuitive evaluation and original, high-quality content.
The best way to optimize your site for this update is to encourage reviewers to provide expert knowledge about the products or services, compare them to previous versions or other products, share exclusive content about personal experience, supply quantitative performance measurements, and give any other information that will help others make a wise purchasing decision.
5 – Multitask Unified Model (MUM) Update
There are times when we all have complex questions that we need to ask in a Google search. These types of questions are a combination of several questions merged to make the search query easier with faster results.
The Multitask Unified Model (MUM) Update is created to provide help when there is no simple answer. It uses contextual information from multiple sources to deliver complete responses to complex questions.
For example, instead of a person searching “Digital Marketing Calabasas” and then “SEO Calabasas” and then “Family Law Digital Marketing”, he can ask “I’m a family attorney in Calabasas looking for help with digital marketing and SEO”.
Now he can get his answer all in one search query. To best optimize your site for this update, make sure to conduct keyword research and never stop posting long-form content that targets long-tail and question keywords.
6 – Link Spam Update
Google’s emphasis on high-quality content and user-oriented web services is something to be taken seriously. The Link Spam Update is Google’s widespread effort to nullify spam links across the web. As a result of the update, websites that have spam links will see a drop in rankings.
To protect your site from spammers and optimize your site for this update, make sure your SSL certificate is updated, utilize Google Search Console to check for security concerns, conduct regular clean-ups of suspected spam activities, avoid link manipulation and keyword stuffing, and use noindex to keep Google from indexing low-trust pages.
7 – Page Experience Update
Google began to count user experience as a ranking metric after May 2021. Google determines user experience on your site by analyzing load time, pop-up ads that interfere with the user’s goal, and if content moves around the pages as the site loads.
The Page Experience Update introduces a specific set of metrics known as Core Web Vitals – newly prioritized factors to quantify a person’s webpage experience. Included in the set is:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): how quickly the main page content loads.
- First Input Delay (FID): the response time of the web page to the user’s first action.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): the stability of the webpage layout (no unexpected moving elements).
8 – Page Title Update
A new system was implemented by Google in August 2021 that no longer adjusts titles according to queries. Now, titles must do a better job at representing the page as a whole.
Google is changing page titles by lifting them from H1s, image tags, and even anchor text from other pages.
The Page Title Update has been detrimental to CTRs because users end up with results that don’t answer the query. An example of this is using SEO for Dummies on a page with the title Professional Search Engine Optimization in California.
And perhaps you include the alt image text SEO Calabasas. In this case, if the search query is “Help with SEO” and the results are for “Books about SEO”, the user will not get the most helpful answers.
For this update, it’s not a great idea to optimize your pages but to focus on quality across the board. Pay special attention to CTR and traffic and then make the necessary corrections or optimizations.
When it comes to protecting your SEO, stay focused on the EAT principle – Expertise, Authority, and Trust. Be sure to monitor updates often and study the data on your website’s performance so you can make adjustments as needed. Google algorithms will always be changing.
The key to SEO optimization is in staying strategic and making the most of existing opportunities.
But the most important key is staying informed and out in front of changes as they happen.