Unlike many of us, Google doesn’t seem to be taking a summer vacation. Instead, it’s rolling out several updates starting in June 2021 that website owners will need to be aware of. Like all updates that Google makes, their end goal is to make sure that visitors are satisfied with the results that they receive when they perform a search, so having a website that delivers a great user experience and relevant content will always reign supreme.
What is a Core Update?
Core updates are intended to make search results more relevant to what searchers are looking for. Unlike the hundreds of smaller algorithm updates that Google makes every year, Core updates only happen a few times a year. When Google makes a Core update, this means they’re making a significant algorithm change, which can have significant impact to some sites’ rankings, depending on what’s been changed and how your SEO strategy aligns or is capable of adjusting.
Two Core Updates Will Happen This Summer
Since Core updates don’t happen very frequently, it’s unusual that Google is releasing two this summer. The first core update, which released June 2 and finished on June 12, includes changes that were already completed by Google, while the rest will be released in July when Google is ready. As of the date of this article’s publishing, there isn’t a huge amount of information known about each of these core updates, but we do know that it has already affected websites in the “Your Money, Your Life” category. This category includes sites and industries that can impact a user’s quality of life, such as financial services, legal advice, breaking news and health websites.
Mid-June Page Experience (Core Web Vitals) Update
You have likely heard a lot of fanfare recently about Core Web Vitals. These 7 factors that can impact a site’s ranking include:
Whether a site is mobile friendly (aka responsive design)
Offers safe browsing
Encrypts data via a SSL certificate (aka domain is HTTPS instead of HTTP)
Doesn’t have intrusive interstitials
Has fast-loading content (aka LCP: Largest Contentful Paint)
Maximizes the speed when interacting with elements such as form fields, menus, etc.
Offers visual stability when loading content
Each of these factors ultimately contributes to a user’s experience with a website, and inherently the impression a visitor forms of the brand.
How Can You Check How Your Site Scores?
Google Search Console (GSC) had some major updates in the last few months and one of these is a Core Web Vitals report. If you haven’t logged into your GSC account recently, take a peek and see how your site ranks. Developers can use the Lighthouse and Chrome DevTools to see what issues come up. There is also a Web Vitals Chrome extension available.
Be Informed, but Don’t Panic
As always, if you’re actively maintaining an SEO strategy and following SEO best practices, it’s very unlikely that your website will be significantly negatively impacted by any of these updates. It is expected that Google will be rolling out some kind of visual indicator in search results for users to differentiate which sites have the highest credibility. In the meantime, it’s important to know that this will be an eventful summer in the organic search space, and that fluctuations in your site’s ranking are likely as all three updates roll out.
ZAG’s team of SEO experts is here to navigate you through the fun, so contact us to chat about your business or institution’s needs.