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Google Update May 2021

Posted on 22 April 2021

Launching in May 2021 the Google Page Experience update is on it’s way and we’ll have an impact on search results as they stand at present.

This update is significant because user experience will play a role in how well or how poorly a site ranks.

Google also said they will be experimenting with a “visual indicator that highlights pages in search results that have great page experience,”

How do you measure page experience?

The main things we believe Google will be looking at are:

  • Is SSL enabled and enforced across the entire website?
  • How fast does the website take to load?
  • Is the page mobile-friendly? (Responsive/Adaptive Design)
  • How easy can the content be read?
  • How much cumulative layout shift are we seeing? (Content that jumps around when the page loads)

SSL

Unless you have good reason, SSL should be on by default now. All of the websites we build come with SSL enabled and enforced site wide as standard (except in exceptional cases). This should be a top priority if your site is loading over HTTP

Speed

The trouble with speed is the way to improve a site’s speed is never the same. This makes it difficult to give advice on speed performance for every site. Generally dynamically generated content, large images, scripts and server response all likely become bottlenecks as we progress through optimising speed.

With so many sites running on setups with lots of dynamically generated content, this is usually the big one when all the hard work is done with regards to the other factors.

Like SSL speed has been a ranking factor for some time now. For our clients paying for SEO and hosting, we have reconfigured their sites to be cached on a secondary environment and have their dynamic database-driven content served from a static NGINX copy. This is faster, more secure, and superior to typical hosting.

Mobile Friendly

For a site to be mobile friendly it needs to be easily usable on a mobile device. Meaning no tiny text, easy navigation and no big images/videos slowing the site down on those limited data connections.

As standard we build all of our websites mobile friendly. To check if your site is mobile friendly see here.

Readability

We’ve mentioned text size but there are other factors that come into readability. This includes the font used, captialisation, font weight and…

This! Using small paragraphs so text on a devices screen is easy to read. Punctiuation and spelling also come into this.

Cumulative layout shift

Cumulative layout shift is when elements unexpectedly move around on the page on loading where these shouldn’t. This can often be a side effect of placing JavaScript at the bottom of pages or by setting styling with JavaScript when it should be set via CSS. If your site has elements that move around initially, preventing users from:

  • Reading text
  • Accidentally clicking the wrong link
  • Making the whole page jump around

You should probably get this resolved before the May Update.

That just about covers everything we’ve seen with regards to this upcoming update. Likely, there will be more to come post-update.

If you would like to have your website audited prior to this update, please get in touch today.

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