Our Complete Guide to SEO in 2021: Planning Ahead
June 29th 2020 | By Emma Grant
Planning ahead with search engine optimisation is always the wisest strategy to adopt. Things change at speed in this industry, so it’s vital to keep on top of changing trends. That’s because changing trends call for a change in tactic, so that the search engine success you’ve been enjoying has the best chance possible of continuing uninterrupted. One significant change that’s on the horizon for 2021, something that’s got SEO consultants UK wide talking, is the incorporation of Core Web Vitals into a brand new ranking signal. What that means, and how it’s going to impact upon SEO, is precisely what we’re going to explore in this post, our complete guide to SEO in 2021.
A quick summary of what the new ranking signal is all about…
What is it?
Google has announced a forthcoming change to search rankings. It’s going to incorporate the recently introduced ‘Core Web Vitals’ as a ranking signal, known as the ‘page experience signal’, combining it with existing user experience signals.
Why is it happening?
As we know, Google is dedicated to providing relevant results for any search query. Positive user experience is its goal. By bringing Core Web Vitals into the user experience signals mix, it will help Google evaluate the overall experience that a web page delivers. The better the experience, the greater the reward with higher rankings.
When will it start?
This is a new development that’s currently in its primitive stages and not set to launch until 2021 at the earliest. However, in the spirit of planning ahead, you’ll find that any SEO expert in London committed to ensuring clients’ digital marketing campaigns reflect the most up-to-date practices will be busy studying the changes. Changes set to become all-important in the months ahead.
What is the new ‘page experience’ signal?
The page experience signal will consist of Core Web Vitals, combining them with these existing page experience factors:
- Mobile friendliness
- Safe browsing
- HTTPS security
- Intrusive interstitials (things like ads and pop-ups that prevent the main content of a web page being read)
The page experience signal will measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page. When a web page is optimised for these factors, users will enjoy an improved online experience across all devices and browsers. The signal will also steer websites towards meeting user expectations specifically on mobile.
What are Core Web Vitals?
Core Web Vitals were introduced in May 2020. It’s basically a set of metrics designed to help website owners measure the user experience around speed, responsiveness and visual stability. Let’s delve deeper.
Scientific name: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
What it means: The time it takes for the main content of a web page to load.
Ideal measurement: 2.5 seconds or faster
Scientific name: First Input Delay (FID)
What it means: The time it takes for a web page to become ready for a user to interact with.
Ideal measurement: <100 seconds
Scientific name: Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
What it means: The volume of unexpected layout shift of visual page content.
Ideal measurement: <0.1
This is how Google describes Core Web Vitals:
“Core Web Vitals are a set of real-world, user-centered metrics that quantify key aspects of the user experience. They measure dimensions of web usability such as load time, interactivity, and the stability of content as it loads (so you don’t accidentally tap that button when it shifts under your finger – how annoying!)”
The thing about Core Web Vitals is that they may be subject to change depending on users’ evolving opinion on what constitutes a positive web page experience. SEO consultants UK and indeed worldwide will therefore be keeping a close eye on that evolution, as Google has itself said that Core Web Vitals will be updated on a yearly basis.
Key question: How will the page experience signal affect SEO?
As we’ve said, the combined Core Web Vitals and other page experience signals will prompt website owners to create pages that will be a pleasure for visitors to spend time on.
If Google decides that a page is delivering a high quality user experience based on its page experience signal, then it is likely that it will reward that page with higher rankings positions.
This is not to say that content relevance is being downgraded in importance in any way. In fact, a page with highly relevant, quality content could well achieve good rankings, even if its page experience signal wasn’t so great. We’ve already looked at how to rank higher in SERPs with the right content, exploring the significance of search intent and content relevance. However, Google says that if there are lots of pages that have similar content, the page experience is going to become way more important for visibility in search. Kind of like a tie-breaker situation.
The key message here is to get the balance right. In other words, don’t over-focus on optimising for page experience to the point where content relevance and quality suffer. A London SEO expert will help you get this right.
How to measure page experience?
If you’re going to optimise for something, any SEO expert will tell you that you’re going to need to measure your success.
To date there is no particular tool that will measure page experience as a signal in its own right. However, it is possible to measure the individual components of the page experience signal.
Core Web Vitals can be measured using some of the favourite tools of SEO consultants UK wide. These include Search Console, PageSpeed Insights, Lighthouse, Chrome DevTools and Chrome User Experience Report. Coming soon is a Chrome browser plugin that will make it simple to assess the Core Web Vitals of any page you’re viewing, plus Google is also working alongside various third parties to make such assessments possible with other tools.
When it comes to analysing other user experience signals, SEO experts tend to use the following tools:
- Mobile friendliness – the Google mobile-friendly test
- Safe browsing – the Security Issues report in Search Console
- HTTPS security – look for the padlock icon in the browser address bar
- Intrusive interstitials – this is a bit more complex, check out this comprehensive guide to discover what they are and how they can affect rankings
SEO in 2021 – are you ready for change?
Hopefully if you’ve been keeping up with our posts, you’ll have a good idea as to how SEO helps your business. It lands you more customers. It enhances trust and credibility. It boosts brand awareness. And it helps you gain competitive edge. What’s more, SEO creates an improved user experience, something that is clearly in line with the goals of Google itself, and something that is set to be subject to more rigorous testing come 2021, courtesy of the page experience signal.
SEO consultants UK wide are preparing for the upcoming page ranking signal changes, and that of course includes our dedicated London SEO experts here at Figment. If you are looking to future-proof your search engine optimisation strategies, Figment makes an excellent choice. We are dedicated to employing proven, best practice tactics in order to achieve tangible results for our clients. Faster results. Long term results. Results that pay with increased leads, conversions and sales.
Why not talk to our team today to discover how we can get you ready for SEO in 2021?