We’re all well aware that search engine optimisation is, among other things, a game of cat and mouse. Google sets the rules, and we play the game! So let’s discover the last Google Search updates for Q2 2021.
Here at Gaasly, as an SEO agency, it’s our job to stay on top of the latest news. With that in mind, we’ve decided to launch a brand new blog series, where our expert team shares the latest developments across Google Search. We’ll cover everything our clients, employees, and anyone interested in SEO needs to know as they craft the latest campaigns and enjoy a rise in the rankings!
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Google’s product reviews update
One of the most significant changes landed early in the quarter, in the first whole week of April. It saw the search giant aiming for product reviews – a mainstay of affiliate sites the world over.
As we know, Google is all about providing the best results for anything someone could search for. In the product reviews update, it’s all about expertise-driven opinion.
Google has tackled thin content on many occasions over the years, driving their closer look at reviews. If everything goes to plan, in-depth, hands-on reviews will prioritise the SERPs over thin content regurgitating information from the manufacturer.
Listicles and best-of guides may be hit the hardest, as they tend to summarise a product in a couple of paragraphs. Instead, Google wants to see ‘insightful analysis’ and original research.
What this means to you
If your website doesn’t revolve around product reviews, it’s unlikely that you’ll have encountered much by way of ranking or traffic changes. However, if recommending products is core to your business, it may be worth revisiting those pages based on newly published guidance.
At its core, this update encourages site owners to add value. For example, this change might mean adding more content to reviews, supplementing it with pictures and videos or making opinion-driven comparisons.
The page experience update
Initially announced in November of 2020, we’ve seen the page experience update coming for a while now. However, there was no indication of when it would take place beyond sometime in 2021.
Google revisited the topic in mid-April, announcing that the page experience update would begin to roll out in the middle of June. Since then, they have also confirmed that the update will apply to sites worldwide by the end of August.
If you keep a close eye on a site’s Search Console, you’ll undoubtedly have visited the core web vitals tab. It has now transformed from being nice to know to an essential consideration for ranking any site.
The update relies partly on the primary core web vitals statistics. However, it now combines them with additional factors to determine the final influence on rank.
Google also launched the Page Experience tab in the Search Console. This resource takes a site’s core web vitals into account and tests usability, security issues, and HTTPS protection. So essentially, if including an SSL certificate as a standard wasn’t vital before, it is now.
What this means to you
Anyone accustomed to optimising content alone may have some work as part of the page experience update. This algorithm change considers what you present to readers and how quickly and seamlessly you do so.
It may involve going beyond the editor in your CMS of choice and dealing with code. It could also require checking with your host about speed and any tweaks they can perform on the server-side to deliver pages quickly.
Site owners can check the scores that affect page experience using Google PageSpeed Insights. Poor performers will show up in Search Console itself. Helpfully, both resources will highlight failing pages on a website and suggest fixes, including plugins and other tools.
Improved data filtering in search console
Drilling down to the stats that matter is part and parcel of being an SEO expert, April saw the release of even more data manipulation tools in Search Console.
Google added the ability to filter URLs and queries using regular expressions. These new options are handy for websites that refer to themselves by different names and abbreviations or can otherwise benefit from wildcard searches.
This update also brought an improved comparison mode to Search Console. Users can now compare more than one metric at a time through a refreshed interface. These comparisons also support regular expression filters.
Find out more about regex filters in the Google Help Centre. In June, Google also revisited the topic once again. They confirmed support for both matching and non-matching filters and pulled together some handy tips for getting the most from the new options.
Increased language support across search central help communities
SEO is a global phenomenon, and Google has taken steps to increase engagement with professionals worldwide. Following hot on the heels of 2020’s launch of Arabic, Polish and Turkish communities, April heralded the opening of dedicated communities for Thai, Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese speakers.
An insight into the battle against spam
Most SEO experts would love a greater insight into the inner workings of Google. One such sense came through their Webspam Report 2020 towards the end of April.
Hacked spam remained a contentious issue. However, Google’s ability to detect such content improved by 50%. Spam-fighting efforts were further reinforced through the deployment of artificial intelligence.
Their work extended beyond conventional spam, too, with more robust systems in place to encourage searchers away from potential scam sites.
Rich results become more specific
Long-time Search Console users will remember their search appearance data split into rich results, videos and FAQs. Now, with over a dozen different types of rich results available, from Q&A and recipes to events and special announcements, generic rich result reporting is no more.
This development is purely a reporting change, and SEOs will now receive more specific information on how their content is presented in search results.
Google Search in brief
Operating an SEO agency involves doing things the way Google tells you to, but any inside information is always most welcome!
If you work on sites that rely on Google News for a significant portion of incoming traffic, June’s insight into the sources that rank best on the platform will help inform any SEO strategy.
Meanwhile, the Search Central blog continued the anti-spam theme of Q2 with several ideas on preventing on-site abuse. This post was joined by launching a new series on the Search Central YouTube channel, covering best practices for anyone who promotes monetised online content – meaning most SEO professionals!
Finally, the company reviewed one of the most critical events in the SEO calendar, Google I/O 2021. There’s plenty of content to go through, although anyone who wants further insight into the hot topic of core web vitals will find plenty to keep them entertained.
And that wraps up the first in our series of Google Search updates. It has been a big few months for the search industry, but, as everybody knows, there’s no time to get comfortable! We’ll be back with everything you need to know about peak ranking performance in the next edition of Google Search – What’s New!