How to Rank Well in: Summer 2021: Page Experience and Search AI Updates

Jun 2, 2021 | Google Updates, SEO

It’s been 6 months since the last Major Update, or Broad Core Update, to Google’s search engine algorithm. With the coming Page Experience update, which will add new metrics based around webpage loading and Google has published new information about how they are making updates to their AI ranking technology, it’s very likely that another Broad Core update will take place sooner than later.

The Core Web Vitals/Page Experience Update

Core Web Vitals, also known as the Page Experience Update, is adding to how Google scans and ranks pages based on loading. Before this update, Google would only factor how fast your page would load. Now, Google will begin factoring in how your page loads. These new Core Web Vitals metrics are:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): measures loading performance.
  • First Input Delay (FID): measures interactivity.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): measures visual stability.

These new ranking factors will begin to roll out over the course of June 2021, starting with mobile devices first and then make it to desktop. The order in which these metrics are going to impact search results is an important note. As John Mueller states:

It becomes quite clear that Core Web Vitals will have a larger impact in determining how websites rank on mobile devices more than desktop devices. That said, Google could always change how these metrics are valued for desktop devices in the future, so it’s recommended to have your website scoring well with Core Web Vitals on all devices.

How To Score Well with Core Web Vitals

Optimizing your website for Core Web Vitals is heavily technical. While some content changes can help, the only way to begin scoring in the top percentile is to change how your website’s code loads. In other words, priority for the most important parts/areas of your web pages should begin loading first, while larger assets should load last.

Depending on your website’s CMS (Content Management System), there are plugins/third-party solutions that can be installed to handle these types of updates. If these solutions aren’t available to you yet, there are some general content changes that can help in the interim. After months of optimizing client sites for Core Web Vitals, the SEO experts at ASTOUNDZ found the main contributors that limit how well a site scores for Core Web Vitals are:

  • Poorly optimized Javascript (JS) Embeds. Embedding certain Javascript/scripts can drastically hurt your performance. Surprisingly, Google Maps and Google Review embeds are some of the most common instances of this.
  • Large objects/assets in the Top of the Fold. Long videos/autoplay videos and poorly sized images at the top of the fold can also keep Core Web Vital scores down. The top of the fold is the first area a user sees when accessing a page, so keeping this area as light as possible is recommended, especially on mobile devices.
  • Constant movement on your webpage(s). Another quick fix to begin having your website score well on Core Web Vitals is to limit/outright remove movement on your pages. Having key content/interactive elements fade or slide in as a user scrolls down a page forces additional loading to happen. While movement can keep users engaged, it’s recommended to keep the most important content and interactive sections on your web pages static.

Even after making these general content changes, your website can still score poorly with web vitals, and that’s when a more technical solution is needed. The ASTOUNDZ Web & SEO team has optimized hundreds of sites this year for Core Web Vitals and can help with having your website score well – just reach out and let’s start a conversation.

The MUM Update: Google’s Search AI is Getting Smarter

While this update is not happening in the immediate future, Google has begun publishing information about how they’re improving Search AI (https://blog.google/products/search/introducing-mum/). This update to their AI is being labeled as Multitask Unified Model, or MUM. Because this update is based on AI, there aren’t any new ranking metrics to identify and begin scoring well on. Instead, this update will be focused on personalization and how Google understands language and complex strings of searches made by a user.
MUM will Change Content Optimization across different Languages

Perhaps the most important snippet from Google’s blog introducing MUM is:

Say there’s really helpful information about Mt. Fuji written in Japanese; today, you probably won’t find it if you don’t search in Japanese. But MUM could transfer knowledge from sources across languages, and use those insights to find the most relevant results in your preferred language. So in the future, when you’re searching for information about visiting Mt. Fuji, you might see results like where to enjoy the best views of the mountain, onsen in the area and popular souvenir shops — all information more commonly found when searching in Japanese.

Google has clearly gotten better at translating pages on the fly, but now it’s promoting the new ability to pull from different sources that are then delivered to users in their native language. This means there will likely be less of a need to have pages translated in different languages, like a Spanish and English version, to rank well. Websites that are able to provide as much information & resources for specific topics/industries will be rewarded when MUM is made live.

Be Prepared for All Major Google Algorithm Updates With ASTOUNDZ

ASTOUNDZ has helped hundreds of sites get prepared for the Page Experience update in addition to other major and broad core algorithms. If your site is scoring low on Core Web Vitals and/or losing search engine visibility and traffic reach out to our team of SEO experts today.

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