When we type a search term into Google, the results that come up look just about the same over time: A list of websites and businesses that more or less match your query. Some are packaged into the neat “Knowledge Graphs” and other design elements the tech giant uses to make the search results more legible and useful. After the first page, there’s typically just a long list of all the less meaningful results in diminishing order of importance.
But if the way Google’s search results look hasn’t changed that much, that’s not to say there haven’t been massive changes to how they work. In addition to constant minor tweaks, from time to time, Google rolls out what are called “core updates.” These are a large-scale revamp to how the search algorithms function, and they can have a very major impact on how your business ranks in search results and your SEO strategy.
Why are we telling you all this? A core update is on the way—likely in Spring 2021.
Here’s what we can forecast about the potential impact, as well as some of the steps we’re taking to help our clients proactively prepare for the update.
Google Core Update: A Chance to Correct a Disappointing Revamp?
Google’s last core update came in May of 2020, and judging from most industry-watchers’ reviews, it was a disappointment.
As a commentary from analyst Roger Montti explains, when the May 2020 core update was complete, large brands like Amazon tended to rank in the top search engine results page (SERPS) positions across a wide range of keywords.
What’s more, social media platforms like Pinterest had gained far more prominence. For those of us searching for inspiration, that could actually be meaningful. For those of us searching for a “dispensary near me” or hoping that customers run that search, quite the opposite.
Finally, there was the perception that in tailoring SERPS towards user expectations—a stance the company largely embraces—Google had unwittingly tipped the results too far into a “Quarantine Bump.” In this scenario, users stuck at home and hungry for distraction would be more likely to get results favoring sites like eBay and Etsy.
So, that’s the current landscape. What can we hope for from the next core update (and how can we prepare)? Here are some thoughts.
Google Core Update: Hope For a Welcome Course Correction
Google doesn’t typically reveal a ton of details about coming core updates. After all, with a market share exceeding 86% in the search engine game, it doesn’t have to. But while we don’t know the precise timing of the next core update, we can share a few important details.
Earlier this year, Google announced a new ranking factor called the “Page Experience signal.” In essence, it’s designed to favor what the company calls a “great page experience.” Some of the factors that will impact this ranking include:
- Is loading performance acceptable?
- Is the site interactive and visually stable?
- Is the site mobile-friendly?
- Are there pop-ups or other “interstitials” that interfere with the user experience?
There are other factors as well, some of which Google will probably never reveal. Many of these may sound self-evident, and many of them are ones we’ve already nudged our readers about adopting. But in taking what’s called an object-oriented approach towards scoring—in other words, treating each factor as a separate entity with its own score, then tabulating a final score—Google hopes to make its SERPs even more usable, stable, and intuitive.
Again, Google hasn’t yet announced a date for the next core update. But it has said it will give site owners a six-month heads-up before rolling out the update. That puts us into May 2021 at the very earliest. Now, the question is: What do we do about it?
Google Core Update: How Foottraffik Audits Your Site to Help You Prepare
With these hints about what’s coming, you should have plenty of time to optimize your site so that you can hit the ground running after the next core update.
Planning for an update can be a bit of a head-scratcher. That’s why—once the timing of the next core update is finally announced—Foottraffik will be proactively auditing all our clients’ websites. As we’ve written before, taking care of the “back end” of your web presence is every bit as important as the “fun stuff.” You know, the content marketing, customer loyalty outreach, people-skill building, and other face-to-face efforts that make running a business so rewarding.
When this happens, it’ll be a great time to check in and see how your website is performing, and where there may be room for improvement. Because our success depends upon your success, it’s all in a day’s work for us.
Do you have more questions about the Google core update or how to optimize your dispensary website for results that exceed expectations? You know how to reach us.