New Google ranking factors: revealing what’s important in 2021

New Google ranking factors: revealing what's important in 2021

Back in May 2020, Google released an announcement of new ranking metrics, but now the representatives of the largest search engine have specified the date – the new Page Experience ranking signal will be taken into account from May 2021. Note that Google is keeping its promise that it will warn about all changes in advance.

“A note on timing: We recognize that many site owners are justifiably paying attention to responding to the impact of COVID-19. The rating changes described in this post will not take place until next year, and we will notify you at least six months in advance. We provide tools to help you get started (and also because site owners are constantly asked to inquire about rating changes as early as possible). “

In short, Google’s innovations make it clear that in the first place – user friendliness

We are talking about updates to Core Web Vitals and Page Experience.

In a post, Google’s director of design for search engine noted that one of the main goals is to help users easily access the information and web pages they are looking for; and help the site owners to provide the convenience that people like.

Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals – the main indicators of a healthy site from the point of view of Google. These metrics are used to rank sites in search results. We will tell you more about them below.

Now about Page Experience… This is the name of the Google ranking algorithm update, which includes Core Web Vitals metrics, which means it will be based on user experience. The purpose of this update is to show in high positions those sites that care about the convenience of the resource for users.

So, the new update will include Core Web Vitals, built to measure user experience, and pre-existing perception cues.

I propose to understand in order what each of the signals is:

Here are the 3 main parameters of Core Web Vitals related to speed, visual stability and responsiveness of LCP, FID, CLS:


Fig. 1. Core Web Vitals Signals

So, let’s take a closer look at each of the three signals.

LCP (Largest Contentful Paint)

Load time for the largest item in the viewport. This basic element can be a block of text, a block with a video or image, etc. A good LCP is considered to be a load time of less than 2.5 seconds, over 4 seconds is already bad.

LCP (Largest Contentful Paint)
Fig. 2. LCP (Largest Contentful Paint)

Note that the rendering time of the main content can also be affected by the Internet speed on the user’s device, the server response time and other parameters that do not depend on the resource itself.

CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift)

Time of visual stability of the loaded layout. In simple terms, this is the time spent on the full display of the page so that all elements become stable, do not shift and do not interfere with the work with the content.

I think, in practice, each of you met a situation when, after opening a page, you click on a link or the desired element, it suddenly moves to another place. So the CLS indicator determines how quickly all the elements of the page become stable.

For Cumulative Layout Shift, less than 0.1 seconds is considered good, and more than 0.25 seconds is bad.

CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift)
Fig. 3. CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift)

FID (First Input Delay)

The waiting time between the start of user interaction with the content after entering the site.

For example, a user went to the site and clicked on a button from the main menu or performed another action, but it did not start to be performed immediately, and it is this timeout indicator that takes into account
FID

For the First Input Delay signal, 100ms is considered a good indicator, and more than 300ms is considered bad.

FID (First Input Delay)
Fig. 4. FID (First Input Delay)

About 15 years ago, Amazon marketers noted that every 0.1 second wait for a website to load results in at least 1% lost sales.

So Google took into account that one of the important parameters for user convenience is the speed of loading and working with a resource, in this regard, Core Web Vitals signals will become the main determining factors in ranking in 2021.

Therefore, those who postponed optimization of site loading speed until later (and from my own experience I can say that every third site among our clients “suffers” from this) should start preparing their resources today. Thus, you will be able to please not only Google, but also the users themselves.

Fortunately, Google cares about its users and provides its assistance:

“Some developers will need some work to understand how their sites are measured in Core Web Vitals and address the issues noted. To help, we’ve updated popular developer tools like Lighthouse and PageSpeed ​​Insights to display Core Web Vitals insights and recommendations, and Google Search Console has a dedicated report to help site owners quickly identify opportunities for improvement. We are also working with external tool developers to include Core Web Vitals in their offerings. “

On my own behalf, I want to say that the Core Web Vitals indicators are very clear, transparent and accurate enough. They are much easier to analyze, correct according to the recommendations of Google itself – you must agree, for example, when working with texts, links and other parameters that affect the ranking, there is no such certainty.

Core Web Vitalsу Assessment Tools

To evaluate your site for compliance with the Core Web Vitals parameters, you can use free tools: Lighthouse and PageSpeed ​​Insights

The first one works through a console in a browser or as a plugin and helps to evaluate many different parameters: site loading speed (including rendering of the main element, time spent interacting with content, etc.), site availability, SEO characteristics and more.

Lighthouse
Fig. 5. Lighthouse

PageSpeed ​​Insights uses data from Lighthouse, provides detailed recommendations for optimizing site loading speed, eliminating major errors.

PageSpeed ​​Insights
Fig. 6. PageSpeed ​​Insights (1)

PageSpeed ​​Insights
Fig. 7. PageSpeed ​​Insights (2)

PageSpeed ​​Insights
Fig. 8. PageSpeed ​​Insights (3)

By the way, Google data shows that the number of Lighthouse and PageSpeed ​​Insights users in recent months has grown by 70%, webmasters began to study resources for compliance with Core Web Vitals.

And, of course, the Google Search Console webmaster contains reports with information on Core Web Vitals.

But besides the 3 Core Web Vitals signals in the new ranking factor, Google has combined the following factors:

  1. Page mobility (adaptability for mobile devices). We talked about how to adapt the site for mobile platforms in as much detail as possible here. And this must be done now.

  2. Browsing security… The absence of malicious elements and viruses is very significant. Free online scanner D.Web to check suspicious files and links to help you. It does not find everything, if you need a complete accurate check of the site or the elimination of found viruses, you can order from us.

  3. Secure https protocol… This factor is important not only for Google, but also for Yandex. If your site does not yet have an encryption protocol installed, we recommend that you fix it immediately. So that you understand what https is, why and who needs it, I advise you to read this article.

  4. The presence of intrusive ad units. No, we are not talking about the fact that advertising on the site will have to be completely abandoned; only those ads that disturb the user are taken into account.

    New Google ranking signals
    Fig. 9. New Google ranking signals

Of course, all sounded ranking signals are important and should be worked on, but factors such as content optimization, expertise, link profile, technical optimization and others have been and will be significant in 2021 and for many years to come. Good and relevant content will continue to be the most important parameter. As proof, I quote the words of a representative of Google:

“While all the components of a page’s perception are important, we will prioritize the pages with the best content overall, even if some of the page parameters are inadequate. The convenience and good impression of the page does not negate the presence of great and relevant content. However, in cases where there are multiple pages with similar content, page usability becomes much more important for search visibility. “

Those. even if your site does not meet the new ranking signals, and its content is useful, relevant to the user’s request and interesting, the search engine will give preference to your resource, regardless of the fact that some of the requirements are not met.

But if one of several sites of equally good quality material has better signals of ranking factors, then the chances that this resource will bypass competitors in the ranking increase significantly.

Conclusions on the Page Experience algorithm

At the moment, Google already uses Web Vitals for ranking, among them:

  • Mobile friendly – the site must be adapted for mobile devices and display correctly on different types of devices.
  • Safety – users should not be threatened by viruses or malicious code when viewing content.
  • Https protocol – the user’s connection to the site must be encrypted for greater security.
  • Lack of advertising – we are not talking about any advertising, but only about intrusive, which prevents users from viewing content.

In May 2021, LSP, FID, CLS, which I described above, will be added to these factors.

Should I prepare for the Page Experience update?

At least for a start, you should check the site for the main indicators listed in the article and identify weaknesses.

As for the site improvements, fixing the errors found at the current moment will not do any harm, but will only help improve the site for users and save yourself from urgent fixes on the eve of Google’s update.

Therefore, my verdict is worth it. =)

Since Google has planned to launch the algorithm in 2021, it is better to finalize everything in advance and gradually.

How to prepare: quick instructions and tools

We have already described what indicators to focus on. As for the improvement of these indicators, we have compiled for you a list of materials, which describe in detail what to focus on.

Modification of the current parameters:

  1. Mobile Friendly: “Step by step: adapting the site for mobile devices”
  2. Security: “Viruses on the site: how to find and cure?”
  3. Https: “What is https: why and who needs it, complete instructions for moving to HTTPS”
  4. Advertising on the site: “Pop-ups on the site: how to interest your users”

To finalize the main parameters (Core Web Vitals), I recommend that you read the article “TOP-12 options for improving your site’s loading speed yourself.”

If you are interested in any question about the upcoming Google update – write in the comments, I will be happy to answer.

Output

Search engines, including Google, are unpredictable and it is very difficult to predict what a search engine is up to and then make a site to please it.

But more recently, Google experts have stopped playing cat and mouse and more openly present information about innovations in the months before the launch. So they prepared users for the fact that in May 2021 new ranking signals will be applied and provided a head start of 6 months so that everyone can find out if there are problems on their website and fix their resource so that it can compete with dignity in search results.

I hope that after reading this article, many of you will rate your site for characteristics that are important to Google and start working on bug fixes. We can do it for you, just leave a request from this form.

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