Gaining Competitive Business Advantages by Keeping Pace with Google

by | November 22, 2020 | Website Development

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Last updated on: August 9, 2022

Is your business website gaining competitive advantages by keeping pace with Google and the latest industry standards?

Google is planning changes to search engine results page (SERPs) ranking algorithm in May 2021. This is happening. The search giant has formally announced the update and given website owners plenty of time to address the upcoming changes.

Many online businesses are too busy already, will miss the news, and forgo the opportunity to gain a competitive advantage over their online competition.

The last time something like this happened Google made it a priority for websites to be mobile friendly and responsive. As in, if your website wasn’t working on mobile devices then you weren’t going to show up in search results as prominently as another website that did. Therefore, between approximately 2005-2018 every online business has become familiar with the terms “mobile-responsive” and “mobile-friendly” – and, taken necessary steps to add a mobile website or convert their existing website into a “responsive” design.

Now that websites are generally all responsive and universally working across all platforms, it seems the next phase of creating a better Internet is coming with the focus being on better user experiences.

Algorithm Changes Incoming

The following image outlines the key areas of core web vitals for the upcoming Google algorithm update.

Loading, interactivity, and visual stability are the factors being weighed heaviest and heavier.

Largest contentful paint (LCP) is the time it takes the page on your website to fully load. Now, you may be able to navigate to your websites home page and see the content right away, but how long does the loading spinner spin for while all the scripts running on the site are finishing their runs? LCP considers everything. Minimalizing the number of scripts, plugins, modules, and other extended functionality loading on any given page will help to reduce the LCP which helps to increase the good vibes your website gives off.

Interactivity first input delay (FID) is directly impacted by the LCP. FID measures the time from when a user first interacts with your site (i.e. when they click a link, tap on a button, or use a custom, JavaScript-powered control) to the time when the browser is actually able to respond to that interaction. Scrolling and zooming do not count as interactions, so what’s really being measured is clicks- navigation clicks, clicks into form fields, button clicks, opening a chat, etc. Unfortunately, user interaction cannot happen (in the context of a quality user-experience) until a page is fully loaded, so if you want to game the results of FID you need to tackle the LCP issue in kind.

Visual stability and cumulative layout shifts (CLS) is a, user-centric metric measuring on-screen visual stability. CLS helps quantify how often users experience unexpected layout shifts.

As an example, imagine you’re browsing a website online- like a news article site- and you’re about to click a link in the article, but just before you’re able to click the link the entire page shifts and you wind up clicking on an ad. That’s a cumulative layout shift.

Google’s putting the kaibosh on layout shifts. Anyone who has experienced layout shifts can tell you shifts make for bad user-experiences. Unsolicited advertisement clicks may be good for someone’s ad revenue, but too often those clicks are highly-untargeted and of low-quality. The result is analytic metrics that show a large volume of clicks and traffic coupled with a low volume of results and achieved goals (whether those goals are a sale, a click, newsletter signup, form submission, lead capture, or whatever the purpose of the web page is).

Mobile friendly, safe browsing, HTTPS, and no intrusive interstitials are not new metrics. Any business that’s online and has a website has been competing over these issues for many years. They are still important, but the high rate of adoption for accepting and implementing solutions to these issues has turned them from being a competitive advantage in to being a mere qualification to exist and compete at all.

What You Can Do Now

Not addressing new technology may not negatively impact your current page ranks, site authority, and search results rankings, but it’s also definitely not going to improve them.

What can you do about it now? Since we are aware of the next Google SERPs algorithm update, there is an immediate opportunity for first-movers to gain yet another competitive advantage.

In this case, knowledge is power, and knowing enough to know to take action is a powerful move on the part of those who can. Those who cannot or those who choose not to will inevitably fall by the wayside and eventually be forced to evolve and change or aged out of relevance. Taking action sooner than later is going to put you ahead of the curve.

Start Planning Updates

Don’t know where to start first? Knowing where your website currently stands is a good way to see where there is room to improve.

Do you know your website’s metrics? See how you’re currently doing by checking your site out with Google’s Page Speed Insights.

How’s the website’s loading time? Are there areas where Google suggests you should make updates?

Start talking to your website developer or marketing agency about interactivity and serverless websites.

If you’re falling behind then there’s no better time than now to start working on improving.

Floyd Hartford is a website developer from southern Maine. He's focused on creating and building WordPress websites and loves spending time digging into code like HTML, CSS, scss, jQuery, PHP, and MySQL.


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