Google has a vast history of algorithm updates and search index changes. It always comes up with some advancement in its algorithm to ensure the accuracy and relevancy of the searches done by its users. It might bring in more and more updates in the coming years.
Knowing what changes have been brought by Google in its algorithm will help you to follow the best SEO practices and would help you in improving your website rank as well. It will also help you to understand the reason behind the performance shift. So, today we are going to discuss all the major updates by Google in 2021.
PASSAGE RANKING UPDATE
Passage ranking updates have allowed Google to index not only web pages but individual passages, paragraphs and sentences from those pages can also be indexed. It means that Google will show up any specific passage as a featured snippet. The aim behind the passage ranking update is to show up the specific result quickly so that the user does not need to go through the relevant web pages to find the answer.
The takeaway of passage ranking update is to:
- Find long-tail keywords
- Show you in-depth, high-quality content as per your query
- Make indexing easier for Google bot by structuring your web page content accurately.
“ABOUT THIS RESULT” UPDATE
With the “About this result” update, Google provides additional information about each search result so that users can determine the most appropriate web page that might answer their queries.
Here’s what the “About this result” tells you:
- The first time when the page was indexed by Google
- Whether the connection of your side to that specific page is secure or not
- The specific terms that you have searched for
- Whether other websites with those search term is linked to the page
- The language of the page
- Whether the result seems relevant for those searches in many other regions
Knowing about the source before opening the search result helps you to determine if the site is reliable or not. There exist some sites which are trustworthy and authenticated but unpopular. The “About this result” feature will help users to identify authoritative and secure sites.
The “About this result” feature does not influence your ranking. The box just contains the facts about the page, some of which act as ranking factors, including:
- Usage of HTTP sites
- Getting quality backlinks
- Appropriately matching the corresponding keywords
100% MOBILE-FIRST INDEXING UPDATE
As the number of mobile users is increasing day by day, Google started emphasizing more on mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor. Google introduced the mobile-first indexing number of years ago which ranks the website pages depending on the mobile version of the content. Google’s plan was to complete the mobile-first indexing by the March of 2021, but after analyzing Google found that some sites are still not ready to be shifted over due to unexpected challenges coming in their way. So Google has decided to keep pace with those sites and left the timeline open for them. By now, Google has not announced any specific final date toward moving for the mobile-first indexing.
As of 1 July 2019, Google enabled mobile-first indexing by default for all the new websites and also for those websites too that were previously unknown to Google search. For older website’s Google has recommended some best practices to follow.
To optimize your site for mobile friendliness, follow these steps:
- You must have a responsive site
- Use lazy loading and image compression.
- Manually test pop-ups periodically and form functionalities on your mobile phone
Though mobile-friendliness works on page by page basis, the overall site wide performance can be analyzed by mobile usability reports provided by Search Console and Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool.
PRODUCT REVIEWS UPDATE
Google shared product reviews updates in April 2021 which was designed to promote high-quality product reviews rather than just summarizing a list of products. This update encourages product reviews that provide in-depth research, insightful analysis, and original content and also would serve as a factor of ranking system. So to produce a product review content of high quality, Google recommends the following:
- Demonstrate expert knowledge of the product
- Show the additional information of the product with unique content except those information provided by the manufacturer
- Provide quantitative measurement of the product performance in various categories
- Explain how your product is different and unique from your competitors
- Compare your product with the previous models and explain the benefits and drawbacks based on research into it
- Help consumers in making a wise purchasing decision
Google received a lot of feedback from its users which state that users trust reviews with evidence of the product actually being tested. Based on feedback, now in December 2021, Google has announced to introduce two new best practices for product reviews which may take place in future updates.
- Provide evidence of the product in form of audio, video or other links as proof of your expertise and authenticity of the product
- Include links of multiple sellers so that the user can have more options to purchase the product from their Merchant of choice.
LINK SPAM UPDATE
Google rolled out the new link spam update to improve the quality of search results. This algorithm update is designed to identify and nullify link spam across multiple languages. All the sites which will be a part of link spam will be re-assessed by the Google algorithm and they might see some changes in search results.
So if you see any changes in your ranking, that might be because of this link spam update. Be sure that your links are natural and follow Google’s Webmaster guidelines. Try to improve your site so that it can naturally attract new links over time. Google has recommended site owners follow the best practices on incoming and outgoing links. Site owners should focus on producing high-quality content and try to improve the user experience. These practices win out over manipulating links. The site owners should promote awareness about their site by using properly tagged links and monetizing them with appropriate tagged links.
GOOGLE JUNE AND JULY 2021 CORE UPDATE
Google rolled out two core updates back to back in June and July 2021. Google decided to launch two separate updates because some of the core updates were not ready in June 2021 as they had planned. June 2021 Google Core update was comprehensive and extensive. Many sites got affected by this update in the form of an impacted SEO ranking.
The July 2021 core update took twelve days to roll out from July 1st to the 12th. Like a typical Google Core update, the July 2021 update was a comprehensive one. It did not affect any single function specifically, rather it changed the whole algorithm a little bit. Site owners might have seen the effect of this core update on their website’s ranking.
GOOGLE PAGE EXPERIENCE UPDATE
Back in May 2020, Google had announced a new ranking algorithm that considers page experience as a great factor to judge a webpage. This means that if Google finds that users had a poor experience on your page, it would not rank your page as high as it is now. User experience will be measured by a set of matrices called Core Web Vitals. This update is called the ‘Google page experience update’ and the gradual roll-out started on15 June 2021 and will be complete by 31 August 2021 as stated by Google.
This page experience update can be considered an important factor for SEO. Google algorithm will consider all the factors under the umbrella of Core Web Vitals while judging how user-friendly your web page is. These factors include the loading time of the webpage, interactivity, and visual stability of the page. Apart from these mentioned factors, Page experience signals also include existing search signals such as mobile-friendliness, HTTPS, and intrusive interstitial guidelines. This page experience signal has been rolled out for mobile in 2021 and Google has announced to launch the same for desktop in March 2022.
Some practices that you can follow to improve the improve your Core Web Vitals include:
- Eliminate intrusive interstitials or banners that block content
- Use lazy loading
- Optimization and Image Compression
- Improve server response time
However, Google clearly stated that great content will be overridden by page experience. If there are multiple pages with similar quality content, page experience would be considered as a great ranking factor in this situation.
PAGE TITLE REWRITES
Around 16 August 2021, people started noticing that Google was drastically rewriting the page titles in SERPs. Around a week later, Google affirmed that it launched a new system that represents pages as a whole by describing what they all are about, regardless of the particular query.
One of the key factors in determining the relevancy of the query is by reviewing the title of the listed web pages. That’s why Google search works hard to rewrite the page title so that the searcher can easily connect with the relevant content that has been produced by creators, publishers, businesses and others. However, Google has suggested site owners create a great HTML title tag. Google mostly used content from the HTML title tag in generating titles. Google’s testing shows that this new system generates more readable titles compared to the old system and is also being preferred by users too.
NOVEMBER 2021 SPAM UPDATE
Google announced on 3rd November that it has begun rolling out a new algorithm update named ‘November spam update’ and it would take almost a week to roll out completely. It also suggested site owners follow the overall webmaster guidelines. Google stated that this update is not specifically a link spam rather it is about content spam. This update is likely to target the content that goes against Google webmaster guidelines.
So if you notice any large ranking shift or traffic changes from your organic search result, that might be because of this spam update.
SEO is a progressive and overarching strategy. If Google rolls out updates that impact your ranking, you are required to prepare the SEO strategies accordingly. When Google comes with some new updates, it also recommends you to follow the best practices to avoid the negative effect of the update on your site. So it is important to monitor the updates and your website performance so that you can refine your strategies in accordance with the Google update.