Marketing Minute: Shockingly, Google's Latest Update Might Be a Good Thing

From our sponsor: Google’s latest page experience update isn’t designed just to benefit Google. It’s actually good for users.

By Steve Krull

Whenever we talk about Google updates, it’s usually in a panic about some algorithm change that we don’t really know enough about but that puts our rankings (and our client’s rankings) in a spin—at least in the short-term before everything seems to balance out again.

What the updates usually have in common though, is that they’re rolled out with the expressed desire to help or improve Google. Cynically, one might suggest Google does this to provide information, while keeping users in front of its own advertising—but that’s only if you’re being cynical.

On the other hand, Google’s latest big announcement, the Page Experience Update, is a truly exciting update for those of us in digital marketing, because it seems like the first time ever that Google has rolled out an update for the sole purpose of benefiting the end user. On the surface at least, there’s no play to put more ads in front of Google users.

What the recently released update means is that websites focusing on the user experience will perform better in Google Search compared to those that focus on satisfying bots and algorithms.

Which is why we did an experiment recently on a client’s website and a competitor’s website. At face value, the competitor ranks better and has a page experience score of, let’s say a D. For the sake of the example, let’s say our client currently has a score of F.

Previously, we might have seen the competitor’s website and thought we needed to change our strategy to better fit Google’s algorithm. But now, all we really need to do is to get the client’s website up to a C or a B in the page experience, and we’ll leapfrog the competitor. Truth is, we’ve made these changes to the client site, and we’re waiting on Google to roll out more updates so that we might evaluate our changes. 

So the Page Experience Update is making it much easier to focus on the things that make a difference to users so we can fix them, and rank better at the same time.

What’s in the page experience?

Many of the page experience signals already exist. Things like mobile-friendliness and whether you use a secure https:// url. But now Google will be looking at a few other things too—like page-load speed, screen stability, and interactivity on the page will all play a part in the future of ranking successfully on Google Search.

Again, this is exciting for marketers because it’s taking us back to the fundamentals. Figuring out what the customer needs and working out the best way to give it to them. It’s as simple as that.

Not an end for great content

Now that’s not to say that we need to stop focusing on producing content and producing it regularly. It doesn’t mean that. We still need to produce relevant, educational, and entertaining content.

It does mean, though, that you could give yourself a competitive advantage by paying attention to Google page experience factors and creating more user-friendly websites for your content to sit on. So we’re definitely going to be seeing more emphasis put on the technical side of SEO again: Making sure we’re creating fast and reactive websites. Not blinding users with block after block of text. And making sure they can find what they need quickly.

Again, we’re going to need to see how this plays out in real-life as more phases of the update come out. But it’s potentially a game-changer that could put smaller websites with a real focus on their customers on the same level playing field as larger competitors. If you’d like to learn more, feel free to have a look at our webinar on this topic.

Happy Optimizing!

Steve Krull is CEO of Be Found Online. If you have any questions or need digital marketing help, reach out on Twitter (@SteveKrull) or on LinkedIn.

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