How to Prepare For the Google Algorithm Update June 2021
This blog was updated April 19, 2021 with new information.
As of mid-June 2021, Google will officially be including Page Experience in the ranking process and rolling out a core algorithm update which will evaluate your website’s Core Web Vitals. Orignally set to deploy in May of 2021, Google has confirmed they are delaying the updates until June. Brands can expect the full algorithm update to be in effect by August of 2021.
Google makes hundreds of small, non-impactful algorithm updates each year. However, approximately once a year they make a ‘core’ algorithm update that can show negative ramifications in keyword rankings if your website is not SEO-optimized.
It’s important for any website to pay attention to a change in Google’s algorithm. For DTC brands, avoiding an algorithm update can mean lost revenue and customers. BVA can help your brand prepare for the Google algorithm update this June.
What are Core Web Vitals?
The overall goal for Google is to provide the best possible answers and websites for a given search query. In order to do so, your website needs to have relevant products and resources, but your page experience needs to be optimized as well. Have you ever visited a website where images shifted all over the page, making it difficult for you to online shop? This frustration might have caused you to abandon your cart and find a competitor’s website that was more functional. Google’s way to provide better quality websites on the search engine results pages (SERPs) is to introduce four metrics to measure page experience and website usability that they have deemed the ‘core web vitals’. Core web vitals are broken down into three metrics that evaluate the following experiences:
- Loading- how long does it take for elements on your site to display for the user?
- Interactivity- how long does it take for a user to be able to interact with an element on the page?
- Visual Stability- does the webpage remain stable and consistent throughout the UX?
Our BVA team is here to dive deeper into each of these metrics and showcase how your DTC site can be ahead of the curve for the algorithm update.
Loading: Largest Contentful PaintWhat is the Largest Contentful Paint(LCP)? LCP is the time it takes for the largest element in the viewport of your webpage to load. This can be an image, text or even a video. Google recommends your largest element to load around 2.5 seconds. A case study by Deloitte showed that ‘improving your load time by 0.1 seconds can boost conversion rates by 8%. Takeaway? Improving site speed and load times even the slightest bit can improve transaction rates for your DTC website.
How to Fix LCP IssuesIf your website is showing slow load times for your Largest Contentful Paint element, it can be attributed to a few different factors. Check your server response and cache times. Improving these timings can help load the page quicker by not recreating page elements. BVA also recommends to minify extra or unused CSS coding (comments, spacing, indents, etc.) The less complicated your coding is, the easier search engines can understand your page. Finally, large videos and images should be compressed and pre-loaded to save precious load seconds. Luckily Shopify Plus compresses images on your eCommerce website, but the BVA team can help guide the strategy on how to host or embed images or videos on your site to improve load time. Our team can also audit coding and look for areas to minify and reduce excess code.
Interactivity: First Input DelayWhat is the First Input Delay (FID)? First Input Delay is the time it takes for a user to be able to interact with an element on your page after that element is fully loaded. Prime examples of FID are a user clicking a hyperlink or playing a video on your homepage. As consumers, we understand how frustrating it is to see a visible button on a product page but experience no change when we click the button. This is often due to elements still loading in the background to make the button functionable. Google recommends FID to be around 100 milliseconds for optimal user experience.
How to Fix FID IssuesSlow FID times can result in your potential customer leaving with no plans of returning again. To remedy poor FID scores we must first understand the data to be conditional on the user. Some visitors might not attempt to click a link or button right away. On the contrary, some visitors will find what they are looking for immediately and intend to click an element instantly. FID is different for all users so the proper field tests must be done to evaluate the data. For websites still experiencing poor FID scores BVA recommends reducing third-party scripts and minifying the scripts’ execution time. This means removing the old GTM script or heat-mapping tool from a previous partner that is no longer in use. For DTC brands working with third party tools our team can help evaluate how your site stacks up against competitors’ and their third party tools. Minifying CSS and code splitting can help improve site speed and performance.
Visual Stability: Cumulative Layout ShiftWhat is Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS?) Cumulative Layout Shift is a measurement of the total layout shift scores of a web page. A layout shift is a sudden displacement of a web page element. A prime example of a break in layout is when a web page is loading and all of the elements shift down after a few seconds to fit a banner image at the top of the page. This can hurt the UX and force a user to click a link or button they did not intend to click. Best practices state a cumulative layout shift score should be 0.1 or less. eCommerce sites strive to get visitors to the desired product page and through checkout in a seamless way. CLS issues will impede on conversion rate and total transactions, so it’s best to optimize these scores.
How to Fix CLS IssuesOne of the most common layout shifts is caused by images or ads without defined containers, height or width. A typical DTC site might want to reserve the top of a product page for an advertising promotion banner. It’s important to reserve that space with defined dimensions so no unexpected layout shifts occur when the page loads.
Audit Your Site For Core Web Vitals
Using the proper tools to audit and analyze the Core Web Vitals on your DTC site is imperative to getting ahead of the Google algorithm update in May. Luckily Google has given website owners advanced notice of the page experience update. Now it’s crunch time to optimize your site if you haven’t already done so.