08th June 2021
June 2021: Organic search update.
It’s never a ‘quiet’ month when it comes to Google and SEO, and this month was definitely no exception. As Google gears up for the Core Web Vitals update, there have been no shortage of algorithm updates and new product releases to help SEOs prepare for this all-important launch.
As always, we have pulled together the most significant updates for you, so you can bring your SEO A-game to your digital marketing strategy.
June 2021 Core update.
First up, Google released a broad core update on 2nd June. This is very routine (they release broad core updates several times per year) and nothing out of the ordinary. Google also announced that we should also expect a July 2021 Core Update next month. These updates don’t usually happen so close together, but this is likely something to do with the Core Web Vitals update just around the corner.
This update is a global rollout, meaning it will affect all languages and can take up to two weeks to roll out. As always, Google will confirm when the rollout is complete, which should be before the page experience update that is due to go live in mid-June
For anyone who pays special attention to Google’s core updates, you’ll know they are usually rolled out every few months. It’s been just about six months since the last core update, the December 2020 Core Update. Just like with any other algorithm update, your website rankings may drop, improve or even just stay stable.
If you notice a change in your organic search rankings as a result of the June 2021 core update, it is possible that the impact can be reversed with the July 2021 core update. Google has stated that typically most sites won’t notice the updates.
Google teases Page Experience update for desktop pages too.
As the anticipation for the Core Web Vitals update (also known as the Page Experience Update) builds, Google is slowly releasing more information to make this transition easier for everyone involved. One of their latest announcements concerns how desktop pages will be impacted by the pending update.
Jeffrey Jose, a Google Product Manager, announced this month that while the Google page experience update is initially only going to concern mobile pages, Google has plans to roll the update out to desktop pages too.
Jeffrey stated that Google “believe page experience is critical no matter the surface the user is browsing the web. This is why we’re working hard on bringing page experience ranking to desktop”.
So you know that that means everyone, once the initial Page Experience Update has been rolled out, it’ll be time to turn our attention to your desktop pages.
Google tests a new SERP feature.
At the end of May, Google started rolling out a super interesting new SERP feature. named ‘also covered on this page’. Google is adding this new feature below the main featured snippet, showing other topics the page covers. It will hyperlink, anchor you down and then highlight the content.
This feature will allow a user gauge whether a certain page is relevant for their query without even having to click through. This feature underlines how important it is to have rich content on your pages, answering multiple related queries rather than creating a piece of site content for just one search term you want to rank for.
Google reveals you don’t need all three good Web Vital Scores for ranking boost.
Although Google have provided confusing commentary on this subject up until now, their latest statement on this seems more conclusive than previously. It’s useful to bear in mind that Google rarely gives detailed information on how their algorithm updates will directly impact website rankings. So this vagueness, albeit frustrating, is very typical of them.
In a recent Q&A, Google said that it is not the case where you need to have all three ‘good’ scores to get any ranking boost. Interestingly, they also stated that once a site hits ‘good’, you don’t need to try to score higher to rank even better. This is, of course, incredibly useful information to get at this stage, as we know that once we’ve hit a certain score, we can invest time in other areas of our SEO strategy.
John Mueller said:
“Once you have reached kind of that good threshold, then that for us is kind of like a pretty high bar, and you are kind of at that stable point. And at that point, like, micro optimizing things like extra milliseconds here and there, that’s not going to do your site in ranking anything specific.”
The main takeaway from this Q&A is that you do not have to get good scores for all three core web vitals to receive a ranking boost. Google stated:
“It is not the case that unless you reach the good threshold for all of the Core Web Vitals metrics, that you have to reach the threshold to get a ranking boost. That’s not the case. In fact, it’s kind of the opposite. You will get a ranking boost for reaching the good threshold for all pages but beyond that point, you don’t get additional boost for reaching it even better. Like if you have your LCP at two seconds and you get it down to one second, we have publicly stated that that will not increase your ranking. However, if you have a slow page, you improve to ten seconds, that could potentially boost your ranking.”
So there you have it, don’t stress about having super high scores, just aim to get your page as fast as it possibly can be.
Google makes it easier for you to report an indexing issue.
Google has added a new feature to report an indexing issue directly to their search team. This means you can directly tell Google if a page which should be showing up in search has randomly disappeared, for instance. You can access this feature in the footer of URL inspection help document and indexing coverage report document.
Before you get too excited, this feature is only available in the US so far, but we are hoping Google allows more people across the world to do the same.
You can access this button, if you are in the United States, in the footer of the URL inspection help document and indexing coverage report document. This is what it looks like:
So stay tuned UK, this feature should make our lives a lot easier!
Google reveals they do not give preference to content above the fold.
Another heavily debated subject in the world of SEO; will your page rank better if you answer a specific query in the first few lines of your page, or in the area ‘above the fold’?
Over the years, the theory has been proven and then disproven time and time again. This month, Google finally directly answered the age-old question. John Mueller at Google said: “I don’t think we have strong preferences in that regard.” Although a bit vague, this definitely clears a few things up. He went on to say:
“So the main thing is that we want to see some content above the fold. Which means… a part of your page should be visible when a user goes there. So for example if a user goes to your website and they just see a big holiday photo and they have to scroll down a little bit to actually get content about a hotel, then that would be problematic for us.
But if they go to your home page and they see a hall of fame photo on top and also a little bit of information about the hotel, for example for a hotel site, that would be fine. So it’s not purely that the content has to be above the fold. But… some of the content has to be.”
In short, you don’t need to place your ‘SEO focused’ content above the fold in order to rank well for a specific search term. It’s about putting user experience first, making sure users can navigate your page properly and logically find the information they need once they are on the page itself.
As always, stay tuned for the next update next month, and if you have any SEO related questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch!