Are You Ready For Google 2021 Updates?
Google makes hundreds of unannounced changes to their algorithm each year. Google 2021 updates are being announced so business owners can prepare for them.
- Mobile First Indexing in March 2021-postponed
- Page Experience Update from mid-June through August 31st.
January 2022 Update: The Page Experience Update in 2021 was for mobile. The rollout for desktop is set to begin Feb. 2022 with completion by the end of March.
Mobile First Indexing
Starting in July 2019, Google made mobile-first indexing the default for all new websites. Note: Older desktop websites that were already indexed were unaffected and still showed in search results. That is now changing.
Google announced March 2021 as the date for switching to mobile first indexing. All desktop-only websites will be completely dropped from the index. In addition, any images or other assets that are in a desktop version will also be dropped from Google’s index. ALL content (text, photos, videos, etc.) must be reachable (seeable) by a phone IF you want it to be indexed.
Update January 2022-Google postponed mobile-first indexing and while they still plan on implementing it, they have not yet given a date of when that will happen.
Separate sites for mobile & desktop?
This presents a potential problem for a business with separate websites for mobile (phones) and desktops. Since content is often pared down for phones (and that’s the version Google indexes), that lesser content could hurt your rankings.
The bigger problem is that content only on a desktop version will not be seen at all because your desktop version will not be indexed. The BEST solution? Replace both sites with one responsive website.
Note: It doesn’t matter if most of your traffic comes from desktops. Google will still judge your site on its mobile view.
Page Experience Update
The Page Experience Update for mobile will be gradually rolled out starting in mid-June with completion by end of August. It’s aimed at making websites function better on all devices because how well a site functions is at the heart of user experience and determines a positive or negative interaction.
A great page experience enables people to get more done and engage more deeply. A bad experience stands in the way of a person being able to find any valuable information and becoming frustrated.
The Page Experience Update encompasses many things and is divided into 3 main areas.
- Loading performance-how fast does content appear on screen?
- Responsiveness-how fast does page react to user input?
- Visual stability-do items (on screen) move around as it’s loading?
Page Experience & Web Vitals connection
Google developed a set of new metrics called Web Vitals to measure these three areas. Web Vitals are combined with existing ranking factors to form the Page Experience factors. Together, they provide a comprehensive roadmap for assessing the quality of a user’s experience when interacting with a website.
Core Web Vital metrics
Within Web Vitals, there is a subset of performance metrics called Core Web Vitals (CWVs) that specifically measure three items regarding loading performance, responsiveness, and visual stability.
To help business owners improve their website, Google provides the following tools to measure CWVs.
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures the amount of time it takes for largest piece of content (could be image/video/text) on the page to load.
- First Input Delay (FID) measures how long it takes for the site to react to the 1st interaction, like clicking a button.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures how much and how often stuff moves around as the page is loading.
Google scores test results as Good, Needs Improvement and Poor so you can clearly see how your website performs. The aim is a ‘Good’ score as anything else can lead to poor performance and/or users leaving your site in frustration.
Incentives for improvement
The Page Experience Update focuses on making websites function better, which includes getting content to users as quick as possible. Google has been rewarding fast loading websites for years and will continue to rank speedy sites higher. Slow sites are at risk for being penalized. Lucky for you, there are tools available for evaluating site speed.
Need more incentive? Google studies show people are 24% less likely to abandon a website when its pages meet the Core Web Vital thresholds. Simply put, you can gain 24% more traffic IF you make your site more usable.
Will your business be affected?
It will if your website has function and/or speed problems. While your site may work on a laptop, it might not work as well on a phone or in a certain browser. Your website should be tested on multiple devices and in all the major browsers to find out if it really does work for ALL users across ALL devices.
The bottom line is that many websites are not tested thoroughly during development. Not being aware of problems won’t prevent your site from being penalized or you being blindsided when your rankings (and traffic) take a hit.
Better website = more sales
A faster, better functioning website has a positive impact on visitors and that translates into more money for you.
- Lower bounce rate (more people stay)
- Longer time on site
- Increased conversions = more sales
It’s clear your website is vital to sales and Google 2021 updates are expected to make a big impact. Being proactive and making improvements now is the smart business decision.
Solution to Google 2021 updates
While Google has provided tools to help, you can’t be expected to keep up with the newest technology or navigate the constantly changing world of the Internet, browser updates and new devices.
Contact Sleepy Dog to schedule your online meeting to learn how easy it is to get a new responsive website with ongoing maintenance.