What to Work on Right Now

It’s July 2021. Has your website growth slowed and stopped in the last year? Are your rankings and traffic flat?

Maybe it’s because a lot has changed in Google in the last 12 months and it’s time to review your site and update it accordingly.

In the last few months, there have been a bunch of critical updates in Google that are impacting sites rankings in very specific ways. Outside of all of the normal site optimisations you have to take care of, these are some of the things we’ve been working on.

Recent Google Changes

The most recent Google updates act just like tiebreakers. What do I mean by that?

Well if Google has to decide between two similar sites, then it’s going to rank the one with the better metrics above the other.

If your competitors start fixing their sites around the updates I explain below, then they will start ranking above you for the same keyword phrase.

Here are the key Google updates that may be impacting your website’s performance.

#1 Core Web Vitals

In June 2021, Google made the user experience a key ranking factor. Core Web Vitals, measures a site’s performance according to a searcher’s experience when they land on a page.

The focus is as follows:

  • Loading, in this context, measures perceived load speed. That’s the point in the page load timeline when the main content is likely to have loaded.
  • Interactivity is the time from when a user first interacts with a page – a click or a tap, for example — to the time when the browser begins processing that interaction.
  • Visual stability has to do with preventing annoying and unexpected movement of page content.

This stuff is critical. Sites with poor core web vitals will rank lower when Google has to choose between you and a site with better metrics.

Here are the Core Web Vitals metrics of my site.

Core Web Vitals Scores of Online Kickstart

#2 Page Experience

The Google Page Experience update started rolling out in June.

Page experience includes all aspects of how users interact with a web page and how good or painful it is for them. (In your case, we hope it isn’t the latter!)

Page Experience Signals includes the Core Web Vitals I talked about above and also considers the following:

  • Mobile-Friendly – Is a page mobile-friendly
  • Safe Browsing – Are your pages free of any malicious code?
  • Https – are your pages delivered using the secure https protocol?
  • Intrusive Interstitials – Are your pages free of intrusive popups and the like?

#3 Quality On Page Content More Important than ever

One other critical factor that we’ve noticed is that poor quality service pages with very little content on them are struggling to rank.

You know the ones you neglected to flesh out when your web developer told you they needed at least 500 words of quality content?

Well, it’s true.

We are seeing large jumps in rankings simply by comparing client pages with those pages that are ranking on page 1.

If the top 10 pages have over 500 words of relevant, quality content on them and yours is just 150 words of filler content, of course, it won’t rank.

Your content pages need to be rewritten to be as good or better than the ranking pages. It works and we’re seeing quality improvements and rankings from rewriting and updating content.

What’s great is that we now have tools that quickly allow us to compare pages on page 1 and yours and give very data-driven recommendations about how to fix them.

Surfer SEO chart comparing the average # of words on sites ranking on page 1 to the target site for improvement

What Should You Do?

Here are the steps we’re taking to make sure our sites are taking into account these changes.

#1 Audit WordPress to Assess Core Web Vitals

Many of the client sites we work with are built on WordPress so it’s important that if you haven’t reviewed the site in a while that you audit the sites core web vitals.

You can then engage a web developer to address any identified issues.

#2 Audit the site from the perspective of Page Experience

When we’ve worked with clients in the past, we’ve addressed many of the elements of page experience. However, over time, things can break and sites can slow down. So we revisit and audit the site around the following page experience signals.

  • Mobile-Friendly – Review the sites mobile friendly eprformance using Google search console and various other tools.
  • Safe Browsing – Scanning pages to ensure the site has not been hacked and no malicious code has been injected
  • Https – Recrawling the pages on the site to make sure all non https pages and references have been fixed.
  • Intrusive Interstitials – Reviewing the site for intrusive popups.

#3 Rewrite the on-page copy for all primary service pages using our SEO tools

We use tools like surferseo.com and grammarly.com as well as the principles of direct response copywriting to rewrite all of the target pages on the site to ensure that they are as comprehensive as the pages ranking on page 1 and are properly optimised to target the main keywords.

This part of the process also has a strong impact on conversions as improved on-page copy better educates and converts visitors to become customers.

#4 Pick up some quality links where you can

And of course, where possible pick up some good quality links to the target pages where you can. Links are still the #1 off-page ranking factor for properly optimised websites.

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