With over 86% of the market share, Google is the world’s biggest search engine. And their service continues to evolve, so it’s no surprise that in its quest for self-improvement, SEO pros need their fingers on the pulse at all times. And by staying up to date with their updates, you’ll be able to keep your SEO campaigns in line with best practices and ensure that your SEO is still working for you. Some of the search engine’s updates can alter your ranking, so when you understand what changes they have made, you’ll be able to understand what changes you need to make. While Google don’t confirm every change they make behind the scenes, here are five confirmed updates of 2021.
1. PASSAGE RANKING
Google have introduced Passage Ranking – a new way for the search engine to rank specific passages from a page. Google have been working hard to develop a better understanding of the relevancy of a specific passage that is at times buried deep in a web page. They’ve said that this method of finding a needle in a haystack of information will improve 7% of searches globally. As a result of this update, you might have noticed some changes to your rankings since its introduction in February. But as the update is more about how Google reads your content, you don’t need to go crazy updating your site. However, it’s always worth sprucing up your long form content to keep it relevant and up-to-date for users. And if your site is thin on content, now might be the time to invest to make the most of the algorithm’s keen eye. This doesn’t mean that you should create content for the sake of it, or to get Google’s attention. Instead, you content should be original, informative, and useful to your readers, while at the same time including short- and long-tail key words that will indicate to Google that you have what their searchers are looking for.
2. PRODUCT REVIEWS UPDATE
On their journey to connect users with highly detailed, nuanced, and well researched content, Google have introduced a product reviews update. This essentially means that you need you can’t have sale pitches and call them product reviews – Google knows the difference (and so do your readers!). Instead, focus on providing informative expertise that aims to educate the reader on your brand’s products and services. Buying guides and product specifications are great examples of this type of content. These additions should show the customer what to expect from your product, how it is used, and explain what sets it apart from similar products – including the benefits and drawbacks based on research that will help the customer rather than aiming to over sell them. It’s a great idea to have customer reviews on your site, but these should be from genuine sources – there are many ways to display reviews on your site, either through the site’s infrastructure or via a third party such as Trustpilot.
3. SPAM UPDATES
In June, as part of their continued fight against spam – internet spam, not the tinned meat – Google released another update that aimed to improve their algorithms. This is part of their ongoing job of ensuring that its users receive relevant, genuine, and safe content – last year Google blocked more than 25 million spam pages from appearing in their index. Provided that you already play by Google’s SEO rules, you and your website have nothing to worry about. Follow your usual security measures, such as ensuring your SSL certificate is up-to-date and check for any security issues!
4. PAGE EXPERIENCE UPDATE
This summer, Google rolled out their long-awaited page experience update, which ensures that their metrics have a greater impact on your rankings. While page experience doesn’t override the quality of your content, user experience is important not only to search engines, but to users too. And when sites are similarly relevant, page experience matters when it comes to how Google ranks your site. This update is just another improvement in Google’s aim to heighten user experience. A great UX and accessible site could be the difference between you ranking in first place, or your competitor. In order to get the most out of these alterations, ensure your site has optimising images, a fast server response time, and no intrusive banners.
5. JUNE/JULY CORE UPDATES
This year Google released core updates in two parts across June and July. While core updates can positively impact your rankings, it can unfortunately have the opposite effect too. The summer’s core updates had significant impact on many sites, so it’s important to keep an eye on Google’s frequent changes so that you can analyse changes to your rankings, and determine whether your increase or drop is due to actions you have taken, or alterations Google has made. The search engine giant has, rather unhelpfully, stated that there is nothing to fix if you see a drop in your rankings due to their core updates. However, this doesn’t come as comfort to those who do! They have however stated that the best thing you can do is to offer your customers the best content you can give them – avoiding common mistakes such as overusing keywords and outdated content – as this is what they reward with their algorithms.
SEO specialists are constantly watching Google’s updates to ensure their sites make the most of the algorithm – don’t get left behind.