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Why Everyone is Freaking Out About Google Page Experience Update – ReadWrite

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Why Everyone is Freaking Out About Google Page Experience Update - ReadWrite


Page experience has become the result of how the quality of online search results is strategically important to Google. To improve it even more, it will begin applying new Core Web Vitals quality factors in May 2021. However, Google announced that it is a postponing page experience update. It gave ecommerce website owners more time to improve the website (if they still did not make it). The update rollout will be gradual. It starts from mid-June 2021 and lasts until the end of August.

Although Core Web Vitals update will be a small ranking factor, it will determine key loading speed and usability indicators based on actual user experience. It is still a lot of work to be done until ecommerce websites will feel the impact on their rankings as there are hundreds of other ranking factors. Website owners prioritize core updates first, so only 60% of SEOs have done work before the Google Page Experience Update, and over 98% of websites have accessibility issues.

While too many SEOs are underestimating Core Web Vitals, they could neglect the actual user experience in the first place. Let’s find out the story behind it and key page experience factors to keep an eye on.

Page Experience deep dive

Initially, Google announced the Page Experience update back in 2020. However, Google’s approach to user experience and page load speed was well-known long before. So it came as no surprise that Google stepped up on this one more time. Since a year passes, all SEO news resources published their ultimate guides on-page experience factors, SEO platforms advance their audit tools and buy more ads.

And society splits into two parts – those who read official Google guidelines and mostly ignore pages experience hysterics, and those who read doubtful blogs and over-optimize their website. So let’s take a deep breath and find out how to find a middle way between accessibility and guessing Google plans to an update.

Page experience, in Google’s view, is all about how people interact with a page and if it is a good experience for them or not. For a long time, the four pillars of this were:

Core Web Vitals

Google adds Core Web Vitals to the bowl that focuses on three major areas: loading, interactivity, and visual stability partly covered in core ranking factors.

  • Loading stands behind LCP or Largest Contentful Paint metric. It measures how long it takes for the largest element of the current viewport to be rendered. In some sense, it indicates the moment the user can read/view most of the information on the page. A good LCP score is 2.5 seconds or less.
  • Interactivity is a key feature for FID or First Input Delay metric. It is the delay between the first user action and server response, e.g., clicking on the URL, scrolling the page, entering text, etc. A good FID score is 100 milliseconds or less.
  • Visual stability describes CLS or Cumulative Layout Shift metric. You probably had such situations when you wanted to click on the button after the site loaded, but after a few seconds, it shifted to another place, and the action was not performed. Well, now it is a bad indicator for ecommerce sites. Google has finalized the change to how it calculates the CLS: maximum session window with a 1-second gap, capped at 5 seconds. It is now added to Google Search Console.

So, in short, Google wants websites to show most of their content and react to user input as soon as possible while being visually stable.

Search engine algorithms background

We all remember the early days of SEO when ecommerce site owners stuffed their pages with keywords uncontrollably to get higher in the search results, and it really worked. Then links started to matter, and it all almost turned into black hat SEO with huge backlink farms of sites created with this single purpose in mind.

Google had to respond in kind and develop up-to-date ranking algorithms to provide users with relevant search results with credible websites. They started to take user behavior signals into account, along with hundreds of other factors.

If we look into the history of user experience-based Google updates, it will be:

  1. Panda (2011) started ranking high-quality content better, penalize duplicate content, and generally emphasize quality vs. quantity in many other ways.
  2. Google Hummingbird (2013) focused on semantics and was the first Google attempt to understand user intent.
  3. E-A-T (2014) – as another way to focus on better quality content, Google started to measure pages in the space of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
  4. Mobile Update (2015) – Google started ranking mobile-friendly websites higher in response to the continuous growth of mobile traffic share.
  5. RankBrain (2015) introduced machine-learning prediction of user intent.
  6. Mobile-First Indexing Update (2018) ranks sites with mobile versions higher.
  7. Broad Core Algorithm Updates (2018) was another set of updates aimed at ranking more relevant content.
  8. BERT (2019) introduced neural network analysis of conversational queries, which followed the footsteps of RankBrain. BERT is still in testing mode.
  9. Covid-19 Update (2020) was a continuation of E-A-T practices with a specific focus on fighting misinformation.
  10. Google June 2021 Core Update & July 2021 Core Update are low-effect (by now) updates that we expect this summer.

Examining the timeline above, there is no surprise Google is looking for clues to rank pages based on user experience again.

Technical SEO audit to be ready for Page Experience update

In light of these upcoming changes, it’s worth checking how your site meets Google Core Web Vitals right now and make changes ahead of time if necessary. A website audit will help you with this. It is a comprehensive check-up for your site that includes dozens of different parameters. Audit the ecommerce website automatically with dedicated tools that do not require in-depth knowledge, such as the SE Ranking Website Audit, HubSpot Marketing Grader, or others.

The greatest value in SEO audit software is a detailed issue report with instructions on fixing every aspect of the website. They carefully analyze all the pages of your site for many parameters, including technical errors, site loading speed, meta tags, content, links, images, and so on.

Below we will look at the individual stages of the website audit that most SEO tools cover and possible ways of correcting the deficiencies found.

Page loading speed

As the Core Web Vitals update is more related to technical issues, the ecommerce site maintenance and page speed are growing even more important. One of the metrics worth paying special attention to is the speed index when doing a website audit. The speed index indicates how long it takes to load the visible part of the page. Actually, it’s a scoring system that evaluates several site speed metrics. A total score of 90+ is considered great; 50-90 points mean that you need some improvements. Less than 50 points are considered poor.

To see if your site performance and loading speed are okay, you can refer to the corresponding section in the SE Ranking website audit report and enter your domain in Google PageSpeed Insights or Lighthouse.

Heavy pages with lots of images and videos load really slowly, and that’s crucial in terms of the Core Web Vitals update. Here’s what you can do if your loading speed is low:

  • compress images;
  • delete scripts you don’t use;
  • implement lazy loading;
  • delete custom fonts.

Content

Content is the king, as Bill Gates once said. The content on your pages affects the user experience. Making a content audit is an important part of a comprehensive ecommerce website audit. Here’s what you should check:

  • Titles and meta descriptions for each page and the length of those;
  • H1 and H2 tags, their length, and duplicates;
  • Duplicate pages;
  • The amount of text content on each page (should be more than 250 words);
  • What keywords each page is optimized for;
  • Keyword density, etc.

Also, remember that it is now better to focus on long-tail queries and keywords that match the specific intent. For example, when a user sees your online store site in the search results and goes to it, they want to find a solution to some specific question or need. Remember that intents fall into the following categories:

  • Informational intent;
  • Navigational intent;
  • Commercial intent;
  • Transactional intent.

When doing a website audit, analyze your pages and think which user intents they match.

Mobile-friendliness

The principle of mobile-first indexing has long been introduced, and with each update, Google is increasing the importance of having a mobile website version for the online store. However, if your site is not mobile-friendly, it will never appear in the SERP despite your best efforts. Therefore, it is imperative to check how responsive your site is for gadgets accessing it. To do this, you can use the following services:

  • Google Mobile-Friendly Test is a free tool with recommendations;
  • Responsinator shows how your ecommerce site looks on different screens;
  • Symby helps check all basic page elements (fonts, images, etc.) on different screen dimensions, including custom ones.

If you’ve found some issues with displaying your pages on mobile screens, here are some tips:

  • adapt images to fit the screen using a CSS parameter;
  • scale video in CSS;
  • hide long descriptions under the buttons;
  • partially hide menu items or hide the entire menu under the “hamburger”;
  • hide filters and parameters for product selection;
  • remove or reduce advertising banners and pop-ups;
  • optimize the font for correct display on all devices;
  • change the number of displayed blocks depending on the type of device.

Website security audit

User safety is essential to Google. For example, sites that contain suspicious content or do not provide a secure connection do not rank high. In addition, Google introduced its Safe Browsing to warn users if they are trying to access a site that Google considers dangerous.

To see whether your site contains suspicious content, use the Site Status diagnostic tool. If an ecommerce website is found unsafe, Google will show warnings on Google Search and in web browsers. If your site is considered dangerous, users simply won’t be able to access it.

To get ranked higher, provide an HTTPS connection instead of HTTP. To do that, obtain an SSL certificate. There are different levels of it, depending on the scale of your business:

  • DV SSL for individuals and small businesses;
  • OV SSL for midsize businesses;
  • EV SSL for large companies.

Minimize the impact of Google Page Experience algorithm

When the news about the Page Experience update initially came out, it caused quite a concern in the SEO circles, and people started asking questions to Google representatives. One such Google expert, Danny Sullivan, stated that Core Web Vitals wouldn’t cause massive and sudden changes and repeatedly spoke about the same in his tweets.

Even right before the update, Ryan Jones, along with other experts, emphasizes the prioritization of core factors in the first place.

However, ecommerce website owners should understand that even if Core Web Vitals are not perfect now, Google’s actions are directed to the improved user experience. Moreover, 32% of global ecommerce traffic comes from the search, which makes it reasonable to update your website event for less impactful ranking factors (data was gathered from E-commerce 2020 KPI report by Wolfgang Digital). So it is the best time to start working on your accessibility now, rather than observe website ranking fluctuations during the next update that we are not warned about.

Evaluating Page Experience for a better web

A good place to start with preparing for the Page Experience update is to define measuring tools.

  • Lab Testing Tools (Lighthouse, Chrome DevTools Performance Panel) evaluate the performance before releasing the application or website. The best option here is to simulate user behavior and fix errors beforehand.
  • Field Testing Tools (PageSpeed Insights, Web Vitals extension) measure more accurate data to show real user experience.
  • SEO platforms (SE Ranking, DeepСrawl, WebSite Auditor) also measure COre Web Vitals and are essential for SEO specialists that want a complex website audit without switching tools.

There you can find and evaluate your current metrics for mobile and desktop versions of your site. Having a grasp on this, you can try the following:

  • Identify the blocks on your website pages that are causing problems. Fixing or deleting those blocks will help improve your page ranking;
  • LCP often refers to the main image loaded on the page. The score can be improved by using CDN images, providing links for content instead, and minimizing JavaScript and CSS scripts. There are additional Web Vitals that measure a site’s load:
    • Time to First Byte (TTFB)
    • First Contentful Paint (FCP)
  • FID is usually affected by JavaScript, resulting in long latency. Optimizing code on JavaScript and dismissing non-critical third-party scripts can help. There are additional lab metrics that measure website interactivity:
    • Time to Interactive (TTI)
    • Total Blocking Time (TBT)
  • CLS looks for unstable elements, so work on their improvement. Those include adding size attributes to images, ad elements are without dimensions, and adding new UI elements below the fold.

Summary

The upcoming update from Google will affect your page rankings. It depends on you whether the ecommerce site goes up or down in the Google search results. Soon, the main aspects to focus on are the site loading speed, its interactivity, and the absence of noticeable changes in the site layout after a full load. In addition, Google is increasingly focusing on matching pages with user intent. Poor, irrelevant, and bland content will not bring you a high ranking.

You can get a Core Web Vitals report in your Google Search Console, analyze the recommendations, and start implementing them right now to ensure that the ecommerce site will keep your positions or even get higher in the SERP after the summer of 2021.

Image Credit: caio; pexels; thank you!

Diana Ford

May SEO be with you

Diana Ford is a digital marketing specialist with 10+ years of experience. She loves blogging and has expertise in tracking digital trends and online marketing updates.



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Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending

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Google eyed for $2 billion Anthropic deal after major Amazon play


London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.

According to an Oct. 10 tech.eu report, the round was led by HV Capital and included participation from Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, FFVC, Plug & Play Ventures, and Syndicate One. Kennek offers software-as-a-service tools to help non-bank lenders streamline their operations using open banking, open finance, and payments.

The platform aims to automate time-consuming manual tasks and consolidate fragmented data to simplify lending. Xavier De Pauw, founder of Kennek said:

“Until kennek, lenders had to devote countless hours to menial operational tasks and deal with jumbled and hard-coded data – which makes every other part of lending a headache. As former lenders ourselves, we lived and breathed these frustrations, and built kennek to make them a thing of the past.”

The company said the latest funding round was oversubscribed and closed quickly despite the challenging fundraising environment. The new capital will be used to expand Kennek’s engineering team and strengthen its market position in the UK while exploring expansion into other European markets. Barbod Namini, Partner at lead investor HV Capital, commented on the investment:

“Kennek has developed an ambitious and genuinely unique proposition which we think can be the foundation of the entire alternative lending space. […] It is a complicated market and a solution that brings together all information and stakeholders onto a single platform is highly compelling for both lenders & the ecosystem as a whole.”

The fintech lending space has grown rapidly in recent years, but many lenders still rely on legacy systems and manual processes that limit efficiency and scalability. Kennek aims to leverage open banking and data integration to provide lenders with a more streamlined, automated lending experience.

The seed funding will allow the London-based startup to continue developing its platform and expanding its team to meet demand from non-bank lenders looking to digitize operations. Kennek’s focus on the UK and Europe also comes amid rising adoption of open banking and open finance in the regions.

Featured Image Credit: Photo from Kennek.io; Thank you!

Radek Zielinski

Radek Zielinski is an experienced technology and financial journalist with a passion for cybersecurity and futurology.

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Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs

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Deanna Ritchie


As excitement around generative AI grows, Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, are carefully examining the possible applications of this technology. A recent survey of U.S. executives indicated that 60% believe generative AI will substantially impact their businesses in the long term. However, they anticipate a one to two-year timeframe before implementing their initial solutions. This optimism stems from the potential of generative AI to revolutionize various aspects of businesses, from enhancing customer experiences to optimizing internal processes. In the short term, companies will likely focus on pilot projects and experimentation, gradually integrating generative AI into their operations as they witness its positive influence on efficiency and profitability.

Goldman Sachs’ Cautious Approach to Implementing Generative AI

In a recent interview, Goldman Sachs CIO Marco Argenti revealed that the firm has not yet implemented any generative AI use cases. Instead, the company focuses on experimentation and setting high standards before adopting the technology. Argenti recognized the desire for outcomes in areas like developer and operational efficiency but emphasized ensuring precision before putting experimental AI use cases into production.

According to Argenti, striking the right balance between driving innovation and maintaining accuracy is crucial for successfully integrating generative AI within the firm. Goldman Sachs intends to continue exploring this emerging technology’s potential benefits and applications while diligently assessing risks to ensure it meets the company’s stringent quality standards.

One possible application for Goldman Sachs is in software development, where the company has observed a 20-40% productivity increase during its trials. The goal is for 1,000 developers to utilize generative AI tools by year’s end. However, Argenti emphasized that a well-defined expectation of return on investment is necessary before fully integrating generative AI into production.

To achieve this, the company plans to implement a systematic and strategic approach to adopting generative AI, ensuring that it complements and enhances the skills of its developers. Additionally, Goldman Sachs intends to evaluate the long-term impact of generative AI on their software development processes and the overall quality of the applications being developed.

Goldman Sachs’ approach to AI implementation goes beyond merely executing models. The firm has created a platform encompassing technical, legal, and compliance assessments to filter out improper content and keep track of all interactions. This comprehensive system ensures seamless integration of artificial intelligence in operations while adhering to regulatory standards and maintaining client confidentiality. Moreover, the platform continuously improves and adapts its algorithms, allowing Goldman Sachs to stay at the forefront of technology and offer its clients the most efficient and secure services.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Google DeepMind; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations

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Deanna Ritchie


As Web3 companies increasingly consider leaving the United States due to regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom must simplify its cryptocurrency regulations to attract these businesses. The conservative think tank Policy Exchange recently released a report detailing ten suggestions for improving Web3 regulation in the country. Among the recommendations are reducing liability for token holders in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and encouraging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to adopt alternative Know Your Customer (KYC) methodologies, such as digital identities and blockchain analytics tools. These suggestions aim to position the UK as a hub for Web3 innovation and attract blockchain-based businesses looking for a more conducive regulatory environment.

Streamlining Cryptocurrency Regulations for Innovation

To make it easier for emerging Web3 companies to navigate existing legal frameworks and contribute to the UK’s digital economy growth, the government must streamline cryptocurrency regulations and adopt forward-looking approaches. By making the regulatory landscape clear and straightforward, the UK can create an environment that fosters innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the global fintech industry.

The Policy Exchange report also recommends not weakening self-hosted wallets or treating proof-of-stake (PoS) services as financial services. This approach aims to protect the fundamental principles of decentralization and user autonomy while strongly emphasizing security and regulatory compliance. By doing so, the UK can nurture an environment that encourages innovation and the continued growth of blockchain technology.

Despite recent strict measures by UK authorities, such as His Majesty’s Treasury and the FCA, toward the digital assets sector, the proposed changes in the Policy Exchange report strive to make the UK a more attractive location for Web3 enterprises. By adopting these suggestions, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving blockchain and cryptocurrency industries while ensuring a robust and transparent regulatory environment.

The ongoing uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency regulations in various countries has prompted Web3 companies to explore alternative jurisdictions with more precise legal frameworks. As the United States grapples with regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom can position itself as a hub for Web3 innovation by simplifying and streamlining its cryptocurrency regulations.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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