Another major Google update is coming next year, which will affect a lot of websites that are not prepared for it, but there are some clear steps that you can take to ensure your law firm website remains in Google’s ‘good books’ when the update eventually arrives.
The ‘heads up’ from Google has been due to the Covid-19 pandemic so SEO can be adjusted.
So what is it?
The ‘Page Experience’ update involves how visitors interact with your site.
Here’s what Google say:
The page experience signal measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page. Optimizing for these factors makes the web more delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces, and helps sites evolve towards user expectations on mobile. We believe this will contribute to business success on the web as users grow more engaged and can transact with less friction.
Why is this update important?
What sites do you think that Google wants to rank at the top? Essentially they want to rank at the top of their search engine the sites that users love the most.
And a lot of that comes down to correct branding.
What Google is doing is adapting its algorithm to more closely align with the mission of showing the sites first that users love the most.
And yes, brand queries are one of the ways they can do this, but user experience is another metric. The page experience update integrates a new set of metrics known as Core Web Vitals into what Google has traditionally referred to as “page experience.”
What are these ‘Web Vitals?’
Each of these Core Web Vitals has a technical name, but in the diagram below from Wordstream lets you see that they represent the page’s loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability:
In essence, this means that Google are looking at how fast your page loads, how the users are interacting with it (or failing to do so) and what the problems might be with design inconsistencies.
When Will The Update Occur?
Google still has not yet given the 6-month notice as to when the update will take effect, so there is no need to panic. However steps should be taken to ensure that your pages will not be adversely affected and the overall warning has been given although there remains ‘no immediate need to take action.’
The likely change will occur in Spring 2021.
Step #1: Optimize your speed and reduce 400 errors
The faster your website loads, the better experience you’ll have. You can use a free tool such as IsItWP, which will show you the results of your site and check its ‘health’.
It will show you how you can make improvements, including the broken pages, which create a bad experience.
Remember that the faster your load time the better. You should try and get the desktop and mobile load time under 3 seconds and, if possible, it should be in the 1 second range.
Google has added a Core Web Vitals report in Search Console. When you go to the tab in Search Console, and you can see how many pages on your site are “good,” how many are “poor,” and how many “need improvement.”
Also included the same roadmap within all PageSpeed Insights reports. If you enter your page URL, and Google will tell you whether or not that specific page meets the requirements for healthy Core Web Vitals
Step #2: Compare your experience to your competitions’
You may think you have an amazing user experience, but how does it stake up to your competition?
So go here and type in your biggest competitor.
I want you to go into the navigation and click on “Top Pages.”
The Top Pages report shows the most popular pages on your competition’s site from an SEO perspective. The pages at the top are the ones with the most SEO traffic, which means they are doing something right.
I want you to go through their top 50 pages. Seriously, their top 50 pages, and look at the user experience of each of those pages.
What is it that they are doing? How does their content quality compare to yours? What are the differences between their website compared to yours?
For each page that ranks, I also want you to click on “View All” under the “Est. Visits” heading. This will show you all of the keywords each page ranks for.
Step #3: Analyze your design
Having a simple website design, without confusing menus or links, is one of the keys to ensuring your potential clients remain on-site and to avoid any page experiences issues when the update arrives.
Having readers remain on your site because they can navigate easily (no, ‘oh I can’t be darned’ attitudes) and with content relevant to what they are seeking is one of the keys to retaining them.
You can use ‘heat maps’ to analyze what parts of your site visitors are using, how they reach certain pages and what they are doing that is most useful for them.
Crazy Egg is one tool you can use to analyze your own site to develop and maximize your site’s usability (and ‘page experience’) so that you are able to generate loyal, page-ready visitors.
Step #4: Maintain the Top Priority for Any Site
Keep in mind that the paramount consideration Google has – notwithstanding algorithm updates or changes – is quality content.
As Google have said:
“While all of the components of page experience are important, we will prioritize pages with the best information overall, even if some aspects of page experience are subpar. A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content.”
You need to keep awake to what is happening and work towards ensuring your site continues with quality information, clean design, good navigation and removal of bad links and other ‘bad experience’ aspects that will add up to a negative ranking on the page experience update when it does arrive.
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