Search Engine Optimization, known as SEO for short, is part science, part mystery. Because figuring out how search engines decide what to prioritize in search rankings can be so lucrative, people are always trying to guess where these trends are headed.
Google is once again making changes to its search algorithm for 2021. Here’s what you need to know to prepare.
Google has always prioritized user experience in determining search result relevance. In the past, they’ve made it clear that they would prioritize pages where text begins above the fold, as well as considering mobile optimization and page load speeds.
Now Google has put out even more detailed documentation for the changes coming in 2021, and how web developers can prepare for them.
First, Google will consider what it calls Core Web Vitals, a series user-centered metrics that quantify key aspects of the user experience, based on the parameters of loading, interactivity, and visual stability.
Developers should pay attention to:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): measures loading performance. To provide a good user experience, LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.
- First Input Delay (FID): measures interactivity. To provide a good user experience, pages should have a FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): measures visual stability. To provide a good user experience, pages should maintain a CLS of less than 0.1.
For each of the above metrics, to ensure you’re within the recommended range for most of your users, a good threshold to measure is the 75th percentile of page loads, segmented across mobile and desktop devices.
In addition to these, Google will take into consideration:
Mobile-friendliness – now that mobile devices have outpaced all others, Google will prioritize pages that work well on mobile. To test some pages from your site, you can use Google’s
Mobile-Friendly Test. For a more thorough report on the mobile-friendliness of your site, you can use your Google Webmaster account to run a Mobile Usability Report.
Intrusive interstitials – as far as Google is concerned, intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible. Google has specific guidelines for which interstitials it considers intrusive and which are ok (for example: cookie-related popups are ok).
We hope these guidelines will help you to make your website more user friendly and more highly ranked in 2021!