06th May 2021
May 2021: Organic search update.
Another month has come and gone, and so it must be time for another organic search update. For any newbies, this is where we pull together the most important updates in the world of SEO– so you know what to focus on when optimising your own site.
April was quite eventful, with quite a few movements in Google-land. The search giants even pulled a U-turn and postponed their highly anticipated ‘Page Experience’ algorithm update – but more on that later.
Here’s a list of the latest organic search updates:
Key Improvements made in Search Console.
At the start of the month, Google announced a couple of key tweaks to their Search Console tool. For anyone unfamiliar with this free tool, it’s a Google product which allows you to understand how people find your site content on Google. It also flags key issues such as indexing and mobile-friendliness issues.
In April, Google introduced two new improvements to make this tool even more useful. The first one is an upgrade of the filtering tool. Previously, you filter certain search terms in your Performance report, to see which terms users are using to find your site in Google. Up until now, you could filter queries and URLs in three ways: containing a string, not containing a string, and exactly matching a string. Previously, Search Console did not support more complex cases. The new filter option is regular expressions or regex. It will help you create more complex query and page based filters. You can read more about it here.
The second upgrade is related to the Compare tool. You may have already been using the compare mode to analyse data from different locations or device types. In the old version of this tool, if more than one metric was selected, the table wouldn’t contain a comparison column with the relative difference in percentage.
The upgrade which went live at the start of April supports cases where more than a single metric is selected, and the interface has been improved so you can view results side-by-side. In addition, the comparison mode now supports the new regex filter for queries and pages.
Google sheds some light on how often Core Web Vitals will be updated.
In a recent Google SEO office-hours hangout, John Mueller was asked how often the Core Web Vitals scores will be updated as part of their overall search algorithm for ranking sites. Unfortunately, in a typical Google fashion, he did not give a straight answer. His response was:
“I don’t know… I don’t know if that’s uh… decided completely yet.
I mean… part of that is also that there is just a general lag for the data anyway.
…We kind of have to wait that period of time until we have collected enough data.
So I suspect it’s not something that will be optimized for… speedy updates but more kind of to have a clear understanding of the overall picture.
…my guess is it’ll be more something of a slow thing rather than a real-time change.”
Although we do not know for sure how this algorithm update will work, Mueller’s answer is far from unhelpful. The main takeaway is that Google will update CWV as part of their ranking algorithm periodically, rather than it being updated constantly– at the beginning of the roll-out, at least!
Google Postpones Page Experience Algorithm Update to Mid-June.
Now for the most important update this month, and arguably the most important update of the year so far…Google have announced that they are delaying the page experience update. This means Core Web Vitals will not be a ranking factor until mid-June, instead of this month, as originally planned.
This means you have an extra month to make sure your site is performing well for Google’s Core Web Vitals. Google’s official statement on this is:
“We’ll begin using page experience as part of our ranking systems beginning in mid-June 2021. However, page experience won’t play its full role as part of those systems until the end of August. You can think of it as if you’re adding a flavoring to a food you’re preparing. Rather than add the flavor all at once into the mix, we’ll be slowly adding it all over this time period.”
As part of this recent announcement, Google have also added a new feature into Google Search Console. The new Page Experience report is now available in Search Console and it combines the Core Web Vitals report with other page experience signals such as:
- HTTPS usage
- Mobile usability
- Security issues
- Ad Experience
This new feature will allow you to track your efforts in more detail, and allow you to see how Google sees your site.
Stay tuned for our next update in June, and if you have any questions, do not hesitate to get in touch.