Google Updates (Summer 2021): A Guide on What’s Changed & How to Optimize

Aug 5, 2021 | Google Updates, SEO

Over the past 2-3 months, Google has released a large number of updates. In June & July, Google published:

  • Page Experience (June & July)
  • June Core Update (June 2nd)
  • Google MUM Update (June 29th)
  • July Core Update (July 1st)
  • July Spam Update (July 27th)

The result is a lot of chatter with the SEO industry about how to optimize for search going forward. But with how many updates rolled out in such a short time span, it was hard to tell how each update affected Google’s ranking algorithms. With July in the rear-view, we can better identify the key changes each update made to Google’s ranking signals. Keep reading to learn what each update is and how to optimize a website based on these changes.

Google’s Page Experience Update

What It Is:

Initially meant to go live in May, Google pushed the release of their Page Experience update to the beginning of June to kick off their barrage of summer updates.

Also known as Core Web Vitals, Google’s Page Experience update enhances 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.

How to Optimize for It:

Optimizing your website for Core Web Vitals is very 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. 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.
  • Large objects/assets in the Top of the Fold
  • Constant movement on your webpage(s)

Contact our team of SEO & Web Experts at ASTOUNDZ to learn more about how to optimize your website for Google’s Core Web Vitals/Page Experience update.

Google’s June Broad Core Algorithm Update

What It Is:

Google’s June Update was the first of two broad core algorithm updates made this summer. The interesting part of this update is that it was update number one of two, with Google publishing information stating that another core update in July will be released.

How to Optimize for It:

There isn’t anything that can specifically be done to fix a site after a broad core update. Because the July update marks the completion of the full broad core update, Google implied that reverses may occur, “Because of the two-part nature of this release, it’s possible a very small slice of content might see changes in June that reverse in July,” Google said. So maybe do not celebrate yet, more is to come.”

Google’s MUM Update

What It Is:

Google’s MUM Update, short for Multitask Unified Model, was the least impactful update of the batch, but important to be aware of for websites that are optimized for multiple languages. The MUM update was made to the already existing Google AI ‘BERT’, which deals with understanding languages.

Ultimately, this update is aimed at reducing the number of searches needed to make when dealing with topics that span across multiple languages – Google says the average currently sits at 8 searches per user.

How to Optimize for It:

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. They even say that “​​MUM could transfer knowledge from sources across languages, and use those insights to find the most relevant results in your preferred 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.

Google’s July Broad Core Algorithm Update

What It Is:

The July Core update is the sibling to the June Core update. Initially intended to be released as one massive update, Google stated it had to split the update up and roll them out over the 2 month period of June & July.

Because the July Core update is intended to complete the June update, both deal with the same ranking signals/concepts.

How to Optimize for It:

Like the June update, there isn’t anything that can specifically be done to fix a site after a broad core update. Instead, Google’s advice for these types of updates is to “focus on offering the best content [they] can” – and offers a fresh set of questions for them to ask themselves about their content:

Content & quality: Does your website provide original, valuable information that is not copied? Does the headline and/or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content? Is this the sort of content you, as a webmaster, would share with your friends?
Expertise: Is the content trustworthy? Does the site contain errors? As a webmaster would you trust this site if you came to it via Google?
Presentation & production: Does the content seem well researched and produced – or does it seem to be more mass-produced? Are there too many ads? Does the content display well on all devices?
Comparative questions: Does the website offer any added value compared to other competitors? Does the content meet the expectations of the user?

Google’s Link Spam Update

What It Is:

The most recent update, Google’s Link Spam Update began rolling out on July 26th, 2021, and was aimed at nullify spammy links but not penalize them. This update was global and meant to impact all languages:

“In our continued efforts to improve the quality of the search results, we’re launching a new link spam-fighting change today — which we call the “link spam update.” This algorithm update, which will rollout across the next two weeks, is even more effective at identifying and nullifying link spam more broadly, across multiple languages. Sites taking part in link spam will see changes in Search as those links are re-assessed by our algorithms.”

This means that websites won’t be penalized for manipulative link building, but instead, lose the value of links that are flagged as spam.

How to Optimize for It:

With tools like SEMRush or Ahrefs, backlinks audits for specific websites can be generated to identify what links may have lost value from this update. With this data, link-building campaigns can pivot away from links/websites that are now considered spam in Google’s ranking algorithm.

Be Prepared for All Major Google Algorithm Updates With ASTOUNDZ

ASTOUNDZ has helped hundreds of sites prepare and recover from Google Updates. If your site is losing search engine visibility after this summer of algorithm updates, reach out to our team of SEO experts today.

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