Katrina Stapleton (K)- Today’s episode of the Help Me Grow My Business Podcast is an earlier than expected part two of our very first episode with Head of SEO Mike Andrew.
Sarah Russo (S)- Yes, so it turns out the Google update that will impact all businesses has kind of already happened.
K- And, what’s happening has also changed.
K- Welcome to the Help Me Grow My Business Podcast brought to you by Localsearch. We’re your hosts Sarah and Katrina.
S- If you’re starting a business or trying to grow one and you’re tired of digital marketing advice that doesn’t work, this is the podcast for you.
K- Every episode we’ll be speaking to industry experts to bring you the info you need to grow your business online.
S- Plus, you will receive a checklist of what you can do today to grow your social media, bring in more traffic to your website and so much more.
K- Let’s get started.
K- So we’re here once more with our very own Google whisperer, Mr Mike Andrew. Last time Mike joined us we chatted about how the new Google page experience update, which on the day of reporting then had moved from being rolled out in May to mid-June. But this has now changed again.
S- Yeah, I should probably cut in here and just say we highly recommend people go and listen to episode one because some of this is a little bit technical and episode one will give you the background that you need. So originally this update was going to change how Google ranked websites and this part has not changed. What has happened though is the update has actually been confirmed to already be rolling out, as Mike predicted, and the search engine isn’t measuring websites like they were planning to.
K- While this has caused some shock waves in the SEO community but considering 96% of websites wouldn’t be ready for this update, it’s kind of a good thing.
But this is why Mike is here to tell us who should be worried and if at all really.
Welcome back Mike.
Mike Andrew (M)- Thank you Katrina.
S- Okay so to start, this update that we’re talking about was meant to roll out, actually it has changed a couple of times when it was meant to be rolling out.
S- And you’ve always said Mike, that you’ve been seeing the signs for quite some time, but now it’s confirmed.
M- I had a big crystal ball.
S & K- Haha!
M- And I feel like one of those people who can foretell the future but yes, yeah, we’ve been seeing a change in, not only in impression share with websites but also in clicks and also in organic traffic in some cases. Not in all cases, because not all websites are born equal, I mean some are better than others. So, where Google felt that a website had a certain authority within a subject and or relevancy to a keyword which might trigger that search result, we have seen in some cases an increase in impression share.
S- Oh wow!
M- Ahh in other cases, where the content may be quite thin, the websites not seen as an authority within a subject due to a content, lack of content page structure etc, we have seen a drop. That started around about the 1st of May.
M- Which funnily enough, coincides with an unofficial announcement that Google’s actually been using the new page experience algorithm since around the 1st of May. So, it’s actually been assessing web pages, content structure, since then with this new roll out, which was officially supposed to be rolled out from around mid-June.
M- So I think what happened was that Google wanted to test it first. Rather than make a big announcement about it and have a big impact on a lot of websites and ranking, it’s just rolled this out and tested it and to just to see what happens.
So those websites that hadn’t been worked on, didn’t have SEO, didn’t have a high authority that may have ranked highly before, are actually starting to suffer a little bit now due to the way that Google is assessing their content, their paid structure and their page experience.
K- Wow! So, in episode one of this podcast, you mentioned how only 4% of websites would actually be ready for this update as it stood at that time, and it turns out that Google agreed. So, what is actually happening now?
M- Well, I am glad that Google agreed, haha.
S & K- Haha!
M- Because I mean they are the higher they have ever been.
S- Oh yes haha!
M- Yeah look, I think that’s pretty much the same and I think that’s why there’s been a variation of the core web vital stats from Google because if they kept it to the way it was, that is, if we had to match all three of the core web vitals, which was the LCP, which was the largest contentful paint, the first input delay and the cumulative layout shift. They were the three key areas, which are based around speed.
I mean it’s been a big job for us to try to get all pages of a website. So, remember, that Google indexes pages are not a website, it’s just the website that seems to be the overall thing, but trying to get those elements or elements on a page to match, all three of those key web vitals has been very hard to do. So, what we’ve since found out and this is pretty much hot off the press, is that Google have come and out and said if we can match one of those core web vitals, and that comes down to you know, really the three core web vitals but were based on loading interactive activity and stability.
So, if we can get one of those to match, so, let’s say CLS, cumulative layout shift, so let’s say at the moment Google asks us to try to get a speed of 0.01. So, if we can get below that and get a good score for that, Google will be happy with that.
And therefore, if we don’t get a high score on the FID or the LCP, and when I say you know we try and match it is as quickly, as much as we can, then they’re not going to penalise us for missing out on two, if we get one that really does match the criteria, which is a change.
So, what we don’t know though at this point of time, and this is something we need to test, is which one of those Google’s giving the weight to. So, is it the first input delay, is it the CLS or is it the LCP? I tend to always work towards really the first input delay and the CLS because that’s when the website becomes interactive to a user. So, the page becomes stable.
M- So, that’s really what Google wants is that stability of a page. The faster it loads, the faster it becomes stable, the quicker you can input with it, or you can interact with it, I think that’s one of the elements that we will work on. The other element I think we’ve got to look at too now, which integrates the core web vitals into it is the page experience algorithm.
So, that tries to understand how website visitors perceive the web page, how quickly it loads and how well the page is displayed on mobile phones, how our ads are shown on the page, do pop-ups intrude on the content and do they block content. If the answer is yes, to that particular one, then we’ve got a problem, we need to remove it because it’s blocking content. So, Google wants that content to be available as soon as the page loads.
K- So, what impact is the page experience update actually having?
M- So, really what it means for all websites now is what we’ve got to look at, with the page experience algorithm, it looks at, for instance, it integrates the older Google ranking factors, so like page speed, mobile friendly update, the intrusive advertising update and the HTTPS update were all part of this new algorithm, so a whole lot of elements in there. But it also looks at user intent, does the content match the user intent one hundred percent, is the relevancy of the content one hundred percent to the search query that triggers the result. If it’s not, what’s going to happen is Google’s going to drop it down in the rankings, so its relevancy becomes less. So, what we’ve really got to do with content, and you two ladies being content specialists will really appreciate this, is the content becomes king. So therefore, we have to make sure the content on a webpage matches the user intent to 100%. It also has factors like EAT, expertise authority and trust elements, built into the content because that’s also an element Google uses from the trust factor. You know, is the information that’s on that webpage trustworthy, is it written by an expertise, particularly for the Money or Your Life category, which is the doctors, medical, finance, insurance, all of those, lawyers etc. So, and then the authority of that page, how long has it been around, does it have a high authority with Google, in other words is it trustworthy, so all these elements are put together in this page experience algorithm. Which means from an SEO point of view, we have to have a higher skillset to actually optimise a page, now to match this new algorithm.
S- So in saying that, so Google’s now saying as long as you have one you should be fine, but do you suspect in the future they’re going to go back and say look you do need to kind of nail everything?
M- Aww they’re tricky little fellas, haha!
S & K- Haha!
M- Yeah look I think at the moment what they’ve done is Google’s idea about, well its reasoning behind this update and all of these updates is to make websites better, make content better, make page speed much faster because we’re living in a mobile world.
So, this new page experience looks at that mobile speed element as well and how well it renders on a mobile device, is it usable on a mobile device. So, the answer to that question is yes, I think in the future but for now what we’ll be working on is making sure that out of those three core web vitals that Google recommends we match, that we get one of them at least to match or be below what Google is requiring from a speed point of view. If we get that we’ll actually get a reward from Google for it.
And then what we can do is continue on the other two elements of it. It’s very interesting because one of the last things that Google also said was that even if we match one of them and we spend a whole heap of time on getting the other two to match, we’re not going to get a reward for it.
S & K- Oh!
M- So, it’s not like we’re going to go from number five to number one just because we match all three, so really from our point of view what we’re doing is looking at getting one of those core web vitals to match and then we’ll have a look at the speed, and we’ll have a look at the stability of the website and the content and try and match as best we can the new experience algorithm that’s there.
S- Mm, I guess that’s the thing with SEO, on the front end like you said, it’s all those core basics of making sure the user is kept happy, but on the back end there’s so many little things that go into it that you’d have no idea.
M- Yeah absolutely, I mean look along with the page experience algorithm comes in things like multiple H1 tags on a page, we’re going to get penalised for that.
M- We do assessments on a lot of webpages, and we find multiple H1’s where previous SEO people said you have to have multiple H1 tags on it but what they don’t understand and I think what they don’t take enough attention to is understanding what goes on with the Google crawler, how it crawls a page, what it looks for in elements on a page and there’s this, I suppose within the SEO community, a lot of people don’t quite understand how the crawler works, which I’m going over that same territory again, but you know what we need to do is to make sure the page matches what Google wants because if we can do that and do it well, at the same time pleasing the user, we should get a good ranking result out of Google. Because A. it’s fast, second, it’s stable, thirdly, the pay structure, organic pay structure is as good as we can get it, which is working on a hierarchal heading tag structure. Looking at where the elements on the page sit, what’s important because what’s up the top of the page is more important than what’s at the bottom of the page. So therefore, we don’t put your product of service on the lower of the page we put it higher on the page.
You only got to look at a heat map and see where people go on a page and then you’ll notice that most of the time people stay up at the very top, down to just below the fold and around about halfway down the page and then after that they drop off, so why would you put your most important elements low? The other element too is how often are there calls to action or places where I can contact you on that page.
M- And then we get a lot of elements on a page like it says call us and goes to a contact page, how irrelevant is that?
If I am on a mobile device and I’m in my car, which I shouldn’t be on anyway, but if I am on a mobile device and it goes call me and I push a button that goes to a form, am I going to stay there? No, I am just going to get off that page and I lose that chance to convert a user into a potential contact or a potential sale or a conversion.
K- Completely. I feel like that the real question at the end of this episode today instead of doing a checklist, is what do businesses need to do now?
M- Well, I think you’ve got to understand that the world is changing with the way people use websites. They’re demanding a much better experience from the webpage than what they used to do. First of all, if you’ve noticed a drop off in organic traffic, if you’ve noticed a drop off in click through rate, that’s probably one of the first signs you have been impacted by the new page experience algorithm or the core web vitals, so let’s put it all under the same one and call it the page experience algorithm. If that’s the case, what you really need to do is to get that website checked by an expert. It’s like when your car breaks down, you don’t try and fix it yourself you take it to a mechanic.
S & K- Yeah!
M- So you really need to have an SEO audit done on that website to work out what element is it of that page that Google doesn’t like; does it like or doesn’t like. That’s my recommendation, because this new algorithm that’s in place now will impact what happens on the other end, which is the user end. So, when we do look at a page, I mean we have two masters, we have Google on one hand, and we have the user on the other. So, if we were to write a page really to just get a high ranking on Google, it’s probably not going to make a lot of sense to a user, because it’s going to you know, the way the algorithm works is if we keep the Google happy it could mean in some cases that from a user point of view, it’s irrelevant, because he’s not going to understand it. So, we kind of have to walk that fine line between a user, does the user find the page useful, does it find it answers the question of the initial search result? If any of those questions are left a little bit unanswered or maybe a little bit hazy, then you’re going to have a problem. I’ll leave you with one word of wisdom, your business is only as good as Google says it is on the web.
S- Very true. Okay so obviously this is a very deep topic, and we went into a lot of the specifics in episode one and this is a recap update as Google’s given us an update. If you do have any questions for Mike or you do want to request that free SEO audit, drop us a line through the Help Me Grow My Business Podcast Instagram or Facebook.
K- I think that’s all we might have for you guys today.
S- Yes, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, Mike.
M- My pleasure, happy to do that.
K- I’m sure we’ll sure see you again soon.
M- I’m sure you probably will. I’ll get some other gems for you at some stage.
K- You sure will, wait isn’t there another update coming soon?
S- There is, but probably shouldn’t talk too much about that yet. So, until next time…
S & K- Bye.