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Inside The SEO Industry

September 23, 2020

New Google Ranking Factor: Page Experience Signal

In late May, Google announced that a new “Page Experience” ranking signal will go into effect in 2021. This ranking factor combines Core Web Vitals (page speed, responsiveness and stability) with other known metrics such as mobile-friendliness, HTTPS, intrusive interstitials and Safe Browsing to evaluate the overall experience that pages provide users. 

This announcement isn’t a huge surprise. Page speed load time and other metrics such as mobile-friendliness and HTTPS are already ranking factors. Google has been telling us for years to make our sites faster and to focus on providing great web experiences for users. With Google set to combine these known ranking signals, it’s definitely something to prepare for going into 2021. However, Google has made a point of saying “Page Experience” will be less important than having high-quality, relevant content. Content is king, after all. 

Core Web Vitals metrics already have been incorporated into Google Search Console, Page Speed Insights, Lighthouse, Chrome Dev tools and the Chrome UX Report. So, SEOs and developers have plenty of time to get acquainted with these metrics and begin testing.

AMP Requirement Changes

Google also stated that the “Page Experience” signal will be factored into how content is ranked in the Top Stories carousel on mobile. Traditionally, AMP (accelerated mobile pages) has been required to rank within the Top Stories section, but Google will be removing this requirement. In other words, AMP pages will still have the potential to rank in Top Stories, but they will compete with other pages for those rankings starting in 2021. This news has some publishers wondering if they should continue to allocate resources toward AMP in the future. The best course of action seems to be wait and test. 

E-Commerce Corner 

As a result of COVID-19, people have been doing a majority of their shopping online. In fact, online spending in May exceeded holiday 2019 online spending. We may see some of this shift as stores begin to re-open, but it’s clear that e-commerce websites are going to need to stay competitive in organic search results. Moz provides some helpful tips to prepare e-commerce websites for a post-COVID bounce back.

In April, Google announced it was going to bring free product listings to Google’s Shopping tab. And in late June, Google began expanding these listings into knowledge panel results within main organic search results. Here at Straight North, we’ve been working on developing processes and workflows around this to ensure we’re providing optimal results for our e-commerce clients. 

Featured Snippet Changes 

We’ve seen some interesting changes made to featured snippet results on desktop. When clicking on a page that is ranking in the featured snippet, Google sometimes scrolls you to the relevant content section and highlights the exact text in yellow. It’s an effort to help users quickly locate the information displayed in the snippet within the ranking page content. There is not any special tagging or markup needed to enable a featured snippet. Google will automatically highlight the text.

New Head of Search at Google

Prabhakar Raghavan is the new head of search at Google. He previously ran the Ads and Commerce team at Google, and will now oversee the Search and Ads teams. The reorganization and merging of teams comes at an interesting time for the company as the Justice Department is expected to file an antitrust lawsuit against Google later this year.

Other Helpful SEO Articles:  

Using Singular vs. Plural Keywords in Content

John Mueller, Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, discussed the usage of singular vs. plural keywords in content and diagnosing the intent behind keywords. It’s nice to receive validation that the Straight North SEO team has been approaching this correctly when conducting content optimizations.

Bounce Rate Is Not a Ranking Factor

A friendly reminder that Google does not look at bounce rate when ranking web pages

Google Search Console and Google Analytics Combined Report 

Google is currently working on a combined Google Search Console and Google Analytics report. This will allow for an easier way to see which keywords may be driving traffic to certain pages. It will also make it easier to correlate whether site changes had a measurable impact on traffic. It’s currently in beta.

This post, compiled by Straight North’s Director of SEO, Colleen Moran, summarizes recent and important developments in the SEO industry.

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