It’s been a busy month for SEO news! We’ve had lots of Google updates and the start of the Page experience rollout. Plus loads of new Google Business and Shopping features — is Google the new high street? Finally, don’t miss our first look at WordPress 5.8, and a brand new search engine called Brave.
Watch the June 2021 SEO news webinar
In this post, we’ll discuss the highlights of our June SEO news webinar. If you’d rather just (re)watch the webinar, you can find the video below.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to register for our webinar about headless CMS on the 20th of July, 2021. We hope to see you there!
The latest Google news
Google makes various kinds of updates. They release hundreds of small updates all the time, quite often several in a day, there’s a constant minor flux. Then there are also big named updates, which overhaul the whole ecosystem. These are usually a combination of big improvements to their machine learning capabilities and enhancements in how they’re quantifying quality. And they usually don’t happen that often — but in June there have been a lot of changes.
In the last month, Google rolled out two core updates. The good news? Indications suggest these updates are mainly focused on refining how they detect spam and prevent it from turning up in search engines at scale. So as long as you’re not trying to spam people, you don’t need to worry.
Danny Sullivan, Public Liaison for Search at Google, recently shared an article explaining how Google updates search to improve your search results. In it, he outlines an analogy: let’s say in 2015 you wrote a list of the best 100 movies. You might revisit that list in 2021, and that list will change. Not because any of the movies got worse, but because there are new movies, and our interpretation of older movies has changed, and maybe some that we missed have come to the forefront. And that’s exactly how Google’s broad core updates work. They’re just kind of re-evaluating what makes the best search result, and your ranking can rise or fall. Not because you did anything wrong, but because the stuff around you changes and new possibilities emerge.
The takeaway remains the same: Have a great website. Keep improving it. Help your users and maybe you’ll be higher in the next evaluation. The answer to ‘how do I rank better’ is by being the best result.
Google’s Page experience update has started (slowly)
The Page experience will incorporate Core Web Vitals scores into the core ranking algorithm. In case you missed them when they first arrived, Core Web Vitals measure user experience, and they focus on a lot on speed. This update been delayed a few times already, but the Page experience update has now officially started and the rollout should be complete by the end of August 2021.
Although page speed measurements will become a new ranking signal in this update, the resulting ranking changes are expected to be subtle, making the difference only in ‘tie-breaker’ situations. So if your page is very slow and your competitors’ pages are less slow, you might find that’s one of the things that contributes to you falling behind. And conversely, if your pages are very, very fast and the rest of your competitors’ aren’t, you might get a leap ahead, so it’s worth looking at that.
While this is a gradual process that they’re incorporating, it’s it’s not going to become any less important. So if you haven’t started looking at your Core Web Vitals already, definitely now is the time.
More ways to show what your business offers on Google
Google is now providing more features for businesses to show what they offer. Ultimately this could turn Google into a kind of business directory. Is it a coincidence that Thumbtack — “helping homeowners instantly book the right skilled professionals from plumbers and painters to landscapers and contractors” — was recently valued at a staggering $3.2 billion? Is this a market Google wants to be a part of? It certainly can look that way.
Lots of smart SEO’s, including Greg Gifford who is big in local SEO, have been saying for years that you need to start thinking of your Google My Business profile in the same way you think about your homepage. This is the first place where people encounter your business, and maybe make decisions based on images, reviews or opening times.
Google are bringing more and more of that kind of utility content, like reference information, into these profiles. There are new tools here that you can fill out beyond just categories and images. Plus — you’ll see very few businesses taking advantage of it, but there’s a feature they call ‘posts’ where you can post mini-updates, like a blog post or a tweet on your Google My Business profile, which turns up in the search content. So you can say things like “we’ve got a special offer on at the moment” or “sorry we’re currently closed because of COVID”. That’s really topical and engaging and can have a huge impact.