Google’s 2021 updates are coming and it’s BIG. Important notice – please don’t ignore.

The new Google updates are a significant concern for just about every website. This is big, and it affects you. The Google updates impact anyone who operates anything online. Whether you own a business, have a store, work in marketing or simply, have a website. 

Now that we have your attention, we need you to know that these latest updates are something you can’t afford to ignore, and here’s why: 

  • As of NOW, Google is reshaping how it ranks websites when it evaluates them for ranking. Remember, the better your ranking the more likely you are to appear on page 1 (approximately 90% of searchers don’t go past the first page).
  • Google is moving away from traditional ranking methods (keywords, backlinks, page coding), and instead positioning user experience as the most valuable variable when assessing how good a site is. 

So exactly is a good user experience?
What can you do to ensure your website is satisfying Google’s new ranking system? 

Do you need assistance getting your website ready for Google’s latest updates? 
Contact Atlas for your no-obligation consultation.
Book NOW or call us (02) 9431 3000

We’ve broken down the 7 variables that Google will be specifically testing your site on and what you can do to make sure your site is optimised to satisfy them. Remember, good rankings result in more users visiting your site, and the more traffic the better….you get the picture.

  1. How is your site speed?
    In layman’s terms – how long it takes for your site to load.
    The longer it takes for your site to load, the poorer the user experience is.
    Google will not favour your site if load speeds are slow, but also, you risk higher bounce rates with existing traffic. So all in all addressing your site speed is a must.

    How can you fix it? First of all, it’s important to test what your current site is at as a benchmark. You can easily test your site’s speed for free by just entering your site’s URL here. If your site speed is not within the 1-3 second range, you will need to work with your developers, like Atlas, to see how your website can be optimised.

  1. Is your site optimised for mobile?
    Over 70% of all organic Google searches are made on mobile devices, so it’s no wonder that Google is placing such high importance on mobile optimisation. Although this ranking is not technically new, the importance of mobile optimisation is increasing with this new set of updates. 

    How can you fix it? We highly recommend a UX/UI audit review of your website to test its mobile compatibility. Common recommendations for the improvement of mobile optimisations include minimising content and formatting changes – amongst other things.

  1. Is your website safe?
    Google will now be looking more in-depth at whether or not your site places the user at risk. Their dual focus in this area will assess whether your site is exposing the visitors to potential harmful malware and whether there is content on the site that contains phishing, or social engineering. 

    How can you fix it?
    A rigorous audit of your site by both a developer and copywriter will suffice to ensure that these threats, if present, are removed. Atlas offers a comprehensive service if you’re seeking assistance with audits and recommendations.

  1. How responsive is your site?
    When a user visits your site, you want them to engage in some way.
    This could be completing a form, making a purchase, or sending an enquiry. All of these actions require your site to respond in an appropriate way. Google will now be placing more emphasis on how well your site is responding. In technical terms, this is referred to as First Input Delay (FID)  i.e. the measure of responsiveness. 

    How can you fix it?  
    Working with your web development team, they will be able to assess your site’s responsiveness. As a benchmark in Google’s new page ranking, a good FID is 100 milliseconds or less. Changes you might expect to see may include changing hover effects and feedback from form submissions.

  1. How visually stable is your site?
    Have you ever browsed a site, and go to click on something but the page suddenly jumps and you end up clicking the wrong thing (accidentally adding something to your cart – or clicking a banner ad!).  This is a sign that the page’s stability is not good, and now Google will be taxing these sites heavily for these quick unexpected shifts.

    The technical term for this measurement is Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) and in Google’s own words;  “CLS measures the sum total of all individual layout shift scores for every unexpected layout shift that occurs during the entire lifespan of the page”.

    How can you fix it?
    Working with your web developer, they are likely to install dummy content onsite that acts as a placeholder until the correct content loads. This is pretty standard practice and can be observed on such sites as Facebook.

  1. Does your site have intrusive interstitials (pop-ups)?
    This already exists within the parameters of Google’s algorithm ranking system, but a greater emphasis will be placed on penalising sites with intrusive pop-ups (interstilis).  However, please note that not all interstitials are measured equally. Some are necessary for safe internet browsing and will not be penalised. For instance, pop-ups for age verification or cookies will not negatively impact your site. 

    How can you fix it?
    Removing these is a relatively easy fix (depending on your site size). Your web developer will scan your site’s code for pop-ups and remove them where possible.

  1. Is your site encrypted with HTTPS?
    Websites will either be coded to be a HTTP or  HTTPS  in their URL. To assess what your site is currently operating under simply go to your site and observe which four letters are at the beginning of your URL. The main difference between the two is that HTTPS sites are more safe (the “S” stands for secure). HTTPS sites are more user friendly because they are encrypted to prevent user data being moved from site to site. Since 2014 Google has been awarding sites that operate under HTTPS vs HTTP and this is set to continue with the latest set of updates. 

    How can you fix it? A certificate will need to be purchased so your site can operate under HTTPS. Certificates will vary depending on what platform your website is built in and your site’s functionality. To assist it’s best to work with your web developer as they will be available to provide guidance on this process. 

    To conclude;
    Google’s shift to a more user-friendly experience is a welcome update for all internet users. These changes will not only favour sites that are safer but also that are easier to use. 
    This also provides the opportunity for marketers to get ahead of the competition by ensuring their websites are compatible with these updates prior to them coming into effect. 

    Do you need assistance getting your website ready for Google’s latest updates? 
    Contact Atlas for your no obligation consultation.
    Book NOW or call us (02) 9431 3000

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Mairead Comerford

Social Media Manager

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