Every time Google releases a new Core Update, the Search Engine Optimization community loses our collective mind.
SEO becomes volatile when these updates roll out. In this special Digital Marketing Update, Josh & Joe examine what we’re already seeing with the updates with real data from our clients.
What’s normal? When should YOU be worried? Will this volatility last?
In this special Digital Marketing Update of our, Bi-Weekly Ask the Experts Interview Series, GNGF LIVE! Joshua and Joe talk about Google’s Core Updates and what they mean for your law firm.
▪️ Core Updates are applied across all markets/industries (vs specific updates that may address specific verticals).
▪️ Updates occur 2-4 times per year. Last year saw core updates in January, May, and December.
▪️ The June/July updates are unusual
▪️ The June update was confirmed by Google (@SearchLiason on Twitter) as starting to roll out on June 2. https://twitter.com/searchliaison/status/1400135428909371398
▪️ Google confirmed the rollout was complete June 12.
▪️ The second phase of this Core Update is expected in the first part of July.
▪️ Google’s advice? https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2019/08/core-updates
▪️ RankRanger Risk Index https://www.rankranger.com/rank-risk-index
▪️ Google Passage Ranking https://www.seroundtable.com/google-passage-ranking-live-30920.html
▪️ Google Product Reviews Update https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2021/04/product-reviews-update https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-product-reviews-winners-losers
▪️ TOOLS https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ Performance Report (in Console) Update to Filer “Good” URLs.
Joshua – Hi, and welcome to “GNGF Live”. I’m Joshua Schuler, Account Manager at GNGF. We wanna put out a special bulletin today, discussing the June and July core updates to Google’s algorithm. The situation is fairly unique in that this is the first time Google’s launched a two-phase or two part core algorithm update. It’s causing some chatter among the industry, and certainly we’ve had some questions from our clients so we wanted to share a conversation with you today. Also joining me is our Technical Expert, Joe Brodar.
Joe – Hi, I’m Joe Brodar. I have been here at GNGF for quite some time where I got my start doing SEO work for our clients. It transitioned into more of a technical role in later years.
– Thanks Joe, good to have you. Always good to chat with you about these things. So when we’re talking about the core algorithm updates, I know that these happen a couple of times a year. In 2020, we saw three of these. Google shares very little information for understandable reasons, but what do we know about the core algorithm updates? In general, help our audience understand what the core algorithm updates are and how they may or may not affect them?
– All right, that’s a great point, Josh. This is the first time we’ve ever seen them do a two-part update like this.
– And my understanding following @searchliaison on Twitter, in addition to other industry journals is that Google has said outright that they were unable to complete what they intended as a June single update and broke it into two parts rather than go seven months since last December without a core algorithm update.
– Absolutely, it just goes to show how broad this update is gonna be. And the effect that it’s gonna have is going to be very deep and very wide reaching through all industries.
– Absolutely, in fact, when we’re talking about the core algorithm update, we are talking about those updates that are designed to be the most broad reaching. There are separate updates, some of which we’ll discuss a little bit later, that may be specific to a Google product, a type of page, even an industry or vertical. The core algorithm updates are intended to be geographically and by industry nonspecific. These are implemented across all searches everywhere. Is that right?
– Yes, absolutely, these are hitting, it’s right in the name, the core algorithm update is this affects everything that’s built on Google’s core.
– And so, obviously when this happens, we start trying to gather data from the experience as quickly as we can. Again, Google is not gonna share with us, this is the intent, this is the outcome, these are the repercussions of this core algorithm update. It’s only advising us that core algorithm update is happening. Now, in between these core updates, thousands of updates of varying types and kinds are happening every single day. And so the question we get when a client or when the industry hears that a core algorithm update is planned or has launched is, “Is this one a big deal?” I’m gonna go off script here for a moment. And I’ll say I was working in the industry in 2016 when we saw Panda and Penguin hit back to back very quickly. And we saw multiple industries abandoned thanks to what was then referred to as the freshness update. So the immediate question is, is this another situation like that? Is this a big deal?
– Absolutely, I mean, there’s no way that they would have an update broken into two parts unless it was going to be something that required so much work that it was going to fundamentally change how Google operates.
– Yeah, I think that’s important to understand. We may not know every detail of the inner workings of the algorithm itself, thus what tweaks and changes are being made with this update. What we do know is that they’ve literally never rolled out a core algorithm update like this. In fact, early data from Rank Ranger is showing us that compared to the December, 2020 core update, which is the last core update we had, for top five search engine results across thousands of keyword searches and search engine response pages, we’re seeing more than 3X the net change in placements, meaning this is an extremely broad update thus far. And this is only during the first phase, which started on June 2nd in which Google confirmed was completed on June 12th. So Google has really only offered very broad brush advice. I know that there is a Google FAQ from mid 2019 that offers some general advice on how to prep and how to consider impact on your own site or your client’s sites before, during and after core update, roll-outs. Joe, do you have any insight on what kind of advice Google shares?
– Yes definitely, so Google basically recommends in broad strokes for any update is to focus on your own content and to make sure that it is quality. Make sure that you’re not being sensationalist, make sure that you’re providing good value just compared to the other pages that may show up in search results, make sure that it looks good and make sure that when somebody visits your page, they’re going to have a good experience and they’re gonna get what they want from that page.
– Which is quality advice, but certainly not specific to any individual update and certainly not any specific core update. So what do we know about June and July? Again, we know that this is the first time they’ve ever rolled out a core algorithm update into phases. That alone is an indicator of the breadth and scope of this particular update. Since rollout began on the second, research firms, agencies and the like have begun gathering data across industries, client bases, et cetera. I mentioned earlier, Rank Ranger is showing that among top five results that this immediate impact has been more than a 3X what we saw in terms of net change in positions that could be loss or gain from the December, 2020 core algorithm update. Now, Google has also advised that with this being a two phase rollout, we may see changes exaggerated, or we may see changes altogether reversed, and we may see updates that turn this outcome into anything in between. Meaning, we may be seeing some temporary impact. We know that Google will continue to refine these updates. It is not a set it and forget it situation. It’s a monitor and adjust rollout. And so when this second phase begins in July, we may see changes and changes deepen. We may see changes be reversed altogether.
– Absolutely, I mean, Google is constantly tweaking small things in their algorithm. Like you said, it’s never a set it and forget it. Nothing is set in stone with Google’s algorithm. Things are constantly changing. And like you were saying, you may see a huge bump now and just have that rolled entirely back when phase two is released. Or exactly the opposite, you may have gotten hit with a bit of a penalty right now, but come phase two rollout, you may see that you’re in an even better position than you were before.
– So Google has indicated this is one of the largest and widest ranging core algorithm updates that we’ve seen for some time, but they don’t offer a whole lot in guidance. While we know the updates are broad ranging, Google does little in terms of offering specific advice or consultation of course. But competitive landscapes mean that accepting the core algorithm updates or other updates passively really isn’t an option. So what can we do in terms of being prepared and or reacting to the updates that we see? Well, in my opinion, and of the sharing the advice that I give to my clients, I’m looking not only at the core algorithm updates historically, but I’m also looking at the non-core updates. So what I wanna do is kind of zoom out to a wider timeline, looking back over the last year plus. And again, in 2020, the last core algorithm update we saw was in December. Prior to that, it was May and January. But we have some several non-core updates, that may be an update that is integrated to the algorithm, but usually has a specific outcome product, page type, or even industry that it is attempting to address. So for instance, in November of 2020, Google rolled out subtopics ranking. What the aim of the subtopics ranking update was, was to allow Google to deliver a more diverse set of results. That meant correlating content for subtopics to related higher level topics. A non-industry example would be a search for home exercise equipment in addition to providing exact matches, might provide subtopics like budget priced equipment or small space solutions for home workouts. These subtopics meant that Google was diving deeper into the content on pages and finding additional valuable content and creating a more diverse search engine result page as a result. In February of this year, Google rolled out Passage Ranking. Similar to Subtopic Ranking, Passage Ranking was Google’s attempt to dive deeper into individual pages and understand that while on a single page, one passage might correlate directly to one query, another passage might correlate directly to another query altogether. Essentially, this was allowing Google to understand the content of the page beyond simple headers, but actually understand things in context. Now, this did not change. These passages are not ranked individually to be clear. So there is no separate search engine result for passages or subtopics. These are Google’s attempts to find more quality and more pertinent data for the query and diversify the one search engine result page for that query. In April, Google rolled out the product reviews update, and this did not directly impact many of you that are watching today. The Google product reviews update specifically targeted websites and web pages that housed product reviews most commonly affiliates. So if you have searched for best washer and dryer 2021 or best appliance repair near me, you’d likely found yourself on a directory site that housed reviews. Google says, “We know people appreciate product reviews “that share in depth research rather than thin content “that simply summarizes a bunch of products.” So again, while this may not have impacted you directly because you’re not reviewing products, you may rely heavily and maybe more heavily than you know on directory sites with reviews. So we’re talking about sites that in the travel industry, in directories and listings, and also for those of you that use them, the pay per lead services. So following these sequential updates from April on, we are seeing a fair amount of volatility. Now, that is not net change among our client base. Where we to look at a 30, 60, or 90 day period, our positions have not changed significantly with any correlation to these updates. However, we are seeing a lot of volatility. If we were to pick out any specific 24, 48, 72 hour period, we’re seeing a lot of changes among keywords, among positioning, among geographies and other KPIs that we might measure. So what you see here is the first of two and shortly, you’ll see the second actually tracking that visibility index that’s from SEM rush for two of our clients. Now, I wanna be clear that these clients have very little in correlating to one another. One is more than three decades old. One is a fairly new firm. One has over a dozen lawyers on staff. One is a sole proprietor. One is located in the South. One is located in the North. And in terms of the sites, one has over 1000 indexed pages with Google and one has less than 50. Still, while we’re not seeing that net change in terms of outcomes over time, we are seeing a lot of volatility starting on that April 14th date, which correlates to that product reviews update. Again, just because the product reviews update didn’t impact you directly, you may be relying a lot on sites that were impacted heavily. As far as the industry SCM rush again does not list law in government as they would title the vertical among the top five. However, among the top seven in terms of volatility before and after recent updates. Industries that have been hit the hardest, travel, and travel logs and travel reviews, news with short bulletins, arts and music coverage, a lot of lifestyle coverage. Overall, the common denominator in those that are seeing the biggest net change in their position, their visibility is thin content. Those that might have voluminous pages, pages, and pages and pages that have been indexed for a long time, but where the content is not deep, authoritative and specific, those are the ones that are seeing losses.
– Yeah, definitely with an update like this where it’s split into two parts, you’ll see a lot of volatility in between the two. We don’t know how much of this is gonna be permanent, how much will stay in three months. Every core update introduces some volatility. Every minor update introduces a little bit of volatility, but it usually smooths itself out over time and you’ll see less and less of it. But particularly something Google has been bringing up a lot in the last year or two years is their focus on matching user intent. And I think a lot of this volatility can be attributed to that. And they’re trying to get very specific with what somebody is searching for and what they wanna find. So while a page may show up for one person, it doesn’t show up for another person and that can attribute some of that spike up and down, back and forth that you may be seeing on your site.
– Both users and website publishers, AKA clientele, AKA yourselves, and your businesses are the subject of testing right now isn’t that right?
– So before we move forward, I wanna offer a disclaimer, I’m going to editorialize here a bit, but I wanna draw all this information together in a meaningful way. The truth of the matter is that Google’s algorithm is it’s core product. It is protected and it should be. They’re not going to make a significant amount announcements or offer consultation or guidance on how to react or proactively protect against these core algorithm updates. And I’m not suggesting they should. With that lack of information, it’s very difficult to speak authoritatively about the outcomes. But what I do want to share with you now is our opinion and reflective of the advice that we are offering to our clients on a day-to-day basis, both how to react during the core algorithm update, but I think these are also reflective of core principles as well. Again to highlight, it is early for data collection, but we are seeing broad and significant impact. There is phase two pending, and we don’t know how much of that will be either deepened or reversed. However, when we look at a holistic picture of the non-core updates for subtopics, for passage ranking, and for the product reviews, all of those harken back to a core Google principle of EAT which is expertise, authority, and trust. Where we are seeing broad loss and visibility is the sites that have regardless of the counts of pages, regardless how long they’ve had quality scores, pages with thin content. Again, big losers thus far since the phase one launch, manta.com, ZoomInfo and other directory type sites. TripAdvisor, according to search engine journal, a 75% loss in visibility is among the biggest losers globally. Other rating sites, Yelp has been hit particularly hard. Lifestyle sites, Quora the question and answer site. Lyrics.com and even YouTube saw double-digit changes in terms of net results. What those have in common again, is regardless of the volume of content and regardless of how it’s been engaged with, the content tends to be relatively thin and non-authoritative. It’s reasonable to expect then that phase one and phase two will continue to reward that deeper, more authoritative content with more specificity to individual queries. So when advising our clients, we’re making recommendations that still align with our ongoing best practices. However, for instance, we might also be talking more about our long tail keyword strategies. As opposed to trying to dominate DUI attorney Chicago, a highly competitive top level keyword, we might look for a data strategy and efforts around what happens if I get a second DUI? That long-tail keyword answers a very specific query and is gonna be less competitive than that high-level keyword that may be competitive all the way at the domain level. We’re recommending augmenting thinner pages with optimized content. So with very limited exceptions, pages should aim higher. And by that, I mean all of your sites likely have a free SEO tool installed, whether it’s All In One or Yoast or what have you. Hesitant to put numbers on such things, but for your main pages really, you should be looking to double where possible, triple and even beyond in terms of what that free tool might say is the minimum word count. So bottom line, the minimum is no longer enough. Planning for subtopics to your main practice areas is gonna be one great way to augment existing content. For instance, personal injury is a practice area that’s congested with many domains and websites that contain page after page of low quality content on specific injuries. That’s the type of content that is not going to offer you any benefits under these updates as we see them. What we need is content that is unique and specific. So are we really offering dynamic content when we’re talking about motorcycle accidents instead of car accidents or are we just modifying our call to action? The answer needs to be the former and not the latter. Go deeper in building that authority and content around subtopics. So if you’re in estate planning for example, and one of your focus areas is power of attorney, don’t stop at power of attorney and what value you can deliver for those types of clients, but let’s develop additional content around specific healthcare directives, around durable powers of attorney, around special powers of attorney and so on. Let’s maintain a consultative and educational tone. We do not want to allow ourselves to kind of devolve into anything that is overly marketing speak or direct in terms of call to action. Obviously there are ethical concerns around how these things are framed when it comes to certain language, but in general, we can’t augment our content by asking people to do the same thing more. And so what we wanna do is develop that content with an educational tone. Let’s explain things, let’s dive deep and let’s prove that expertise and authority in the topic. Of course, shorter content and content of varying types absolutely has value, but there is specifics as to where, why and how, isn’t that correct Joe?
– Yes definitely, there are certain pages maybe like FAQ pages where the answer to a question just may not be that long, or you may have videos hosted on your site or embedded on your site where you may have a short description of the video, but most of the content isn’t in text form. It’s not something that Google is going to be reading in an automated fashion. Or another example would be like a contact page, which again, it’s only meant from a user experience to give them your contact information to tell them who you are, where you are and how they can reach you. And you don’t want to be clogging up those pages with a bunch of extra content just to hit search engines with longer content. And the best way to handle that so that search engines don’t devalue them entirely is to provide structured data. So you probably heard the term Schema markup before. And all that means is that there is something that’s not visible to a user who’s viewing the page, but it is visible to Google when they look at your site and they crawl your site. And it’s just a really easy way for you to tell them why you have this page and what it’s about. And then with structured data, Google wants to make sure that you do it because it makes crawling very easy for them. And they provide you with tools to help you test that. There’s the Google structured data testing tool, which I believe is being phased out for the Google rich snippet testing tool, both of which are currently available. And then inside of Google search console for your domain, on the left-hand side, there are sections that will highlight the structured data that Google has recognized on your site and it will highlight if there are errors with it and provide you with what those are so that you can out remedy the situation and give them what they want to see.
– Similarly, when we talk about our linking strategies, there’s really three types of links. There’s internal links for our own site, and there’s certainly best practices related to that. There’s external links from our site and that’s what I wanna mention here is that adding a value to the user by providing trusted sources for the content that they’re currently viewing on your site is definitely a value add. So if we’re talking about topics related to your local courts, let’s link to the courts information. If we’re talking about a judgment, let’s link to the judgment. Let’s also make sure that we do it with proper anchor text so that it’s being read correctly by those crawlers. When we talk about building our own links back to our site, again, what we’re seeing is diminishing visibility among Finn sites, directories, citations, paid links. These are continuing to diminish in value. So when we’re looking for a link building strategy, we’re gonna look for what will often take more time, more effort, but we’ll offer more value, both in the near and longterm? We’re looking for public relations and community relations opportunities. How can you get involved? How can you sponsor? How can you be on site? We’re looking for guest blogging opportunities, trade journals. Your local business journal likely has an opportunity for you to contribute and while you won’t be able to “have a call to action”, they certainly will identify your business and where people can get more information. These types of links are going to take more time, take more effort and more resources. But again, the ROI on these is only continuing to grow in comparison to the easier path of the citations. We wanna make sure that we’re updating and resubmitting site maps, especially if you’re a business owner who publishes content frequently. If you’re working very hard on your blogs, on your FAQ’s and you’re applying Schema, et cetera, you wanna make sure you’re resubmitting that site map. You’re sending a signal to Google that there’s something new on the site, I wanna make sure that you take note of it and take the appropriate action for crawling and indexing. Google will crawl every site in a cyclical fashion. Submitting that site map is you giving them a proactive signal that something’s new. Similarly, if you’re not already requesting reviews frequently and at different points of your intake process not just at the conclusion of cases, now is the time to start. Do not fall further behind. If you are doing those things already, let’s start experimenting with some prompts to encourage our satisfied clients to offer more specificity on our behalf. We do not want you to divulge any personal information of course, but Mr. or Ms. Client, we would love for you to be specific about whether it was service, whether it was response, whether it was negotiations, what have you. We’d like you to be specific as possible. Generally speaking, a lot of us are at the benefits of positive reviews based on your overall experience, but the review may boil down simply to, “Joe sure is great, five stars.” If we can offer some prompts and get a little more specificity around the reviews from those who want to see us continue to do well, that’s a great next step in making sure that your reviews are offering you the max value. So overall, looking over the last year of the non-core updates, in addition to what we know is a particularly broad update being rolled out in two phases right now, Google continues to refine the algorithm for quality over quantity. It continues to echo back to the core principle of expertise, authority and trust. And it continues to suppress those results of the least specificity and least value to the user. So to plan accordingly, we’re going to counteract those improve ourselves the most valuable. Now, separate from all of these is another non-core update. We’ve known about this for some time Joe, but on June 16th, Google announced the actual implementation of the page experience update. Is that right?
– Yes and this just super reinforces the point you just made about quality over quantity. This update is all about what is the user experience on your site? Are we giving the people who use Google the right things in front of them? Like you said, Google announced it a while ago. They announced it in November of last year. And while the rollout started on June 16th, it will take until August before it’s all completely rolled out and implemented.
– That really long even for a planned rollout, right?
– It is, that is very long. And it’s again, another one of those things where it’s not the first time we’ve seen this, but every time it’s happened in the past, it’s resulted in major changes. So some of the things that are included in the page experience update are some core web vitals. And these are technical terms to describe what happens as your page is loading for someone.
– So let me interject here and say, if you’ve ever taken the time to run a speed test for your own site from the page speed tool, you’ve probably seen a number that either made you happy or sad, right? Followed by several data points that you may or may not have had the ability to interpret on the fly. I do not, that’s why I’m thankful Joe’s here. but these core web vitals have been part of the page speed test for quite some time as well.
– We’ve been using the Google page speed insights tool for a while now because it gives you the most information back. And it is essentially what Google is going to be using in this page experience update to determine how they rank your site. And like Josh alluded to, if you’ve ever looked at that, it’s a very opaque page with a lot of technical terms and big words that I wouldn’t expect somebody to understand. I mean, I had to do a lot of research to truly understand what these things meant. So to hit on some of the top ones that they’ll be looking at, the top three, the largest content full pane, which basically just means when your page is loading onto a screen, what is the biggest section of something on that page and how long does it take to load? The quicker that it can load, the better. And you want that to be less than two and a half seconds. Anything above that, and you’re gonna get a little bit penalized for that.
– And that’s typically some media, right? That’s typically not just a long paragraph, that’s a hero image across the top. That’s a brand element that might be a hosted video, right?
– Yes exactly, so it could be a text block, but almost certainly it won’t be. Like you said, the hero image is the biggest offender. It is oftentimes not just the largest thing that shows above the fold on a page. It’s often the largest thing on a page period. And because it’s at the top of the page, it is always one of the first things that loads, and it is always something that is going to delay loading other things that may provide more meaning to somebody as the page is loading and the content is being put in front of them. And that kind of then transitions nicely into the second one, which is the first input delay, which is exactly what it sounds like. It is how long do you have to wait before you can interact with that page? And Google wants you to have that be extremely fast. They want 100 milliseconds or less. So 1/10th of a second, you have to make your page interactive. Anything above that, and you’ll see a small penalization on your score. And then the third thing that there’ll be looking at at the top of the list is cumulative layout shift. And I think this is the most obscure.
– This one is very difficult for me to wrap my head around as well. And I’ll be honest that I’ve seen inconsistent reports on a client-by-client basis here. So before spending too much time in that CLS, the cumulative layout shift, I try to make sure that it’s an issue that I can replicate. Now, some of these tools are new I understand, but describe for us again what that CLS means and what it might be indicating?
– Yes, so what it means is it’s a function of how many things change their size on your page and what percentage of the page that they’re covering. So if you have say, I think the most common offender that I see here are pop-ups or like subscribe to our newsletter list, things like that, that basically go from something very small, maybe something that’s floating on the side of the screen and then bumps up over top of the screen, or something that slides in from off-screen. Anything that causes the page to change once it has initially loaded is going to hurt your score because again, from a user experience perspective, Google wants to see you load your page and then that page is what it is. They don’t want you to be moving things on the user because you’ll see things. I get so frustrated when I am reading an article and then an ad loads halfway through, and it bumps me down and I have to scroll back up to the top of where I was at, that’s what they’re trying to eliminate here. They don’t want you to be moving things once the user has already started to interact with the page.
– Or the classic interstitial where I’m halfway through that same article and then the screen grays out with just a rectangle box with some specific call to action, whether it’s an ad or sign up for our newsletter, right?
– Yes, it is. It is all about user experience and Google differs heavily to what they think somebody looking at your page wants. And let’s be honest, people looking at your page, they don’t want popups. They don’t want things to shift around. They don’t wanna accidentally be clicking buttons.
– They don’t wanna have to close out specific elements just to see what content’s behind it.
– So those are kind of your three big core web vitals that are tied to your page speed. Some other major pieces to this are mobile-friendly. Now, mobile-first from Google is not something new. That is something that they have been pitching and pushing for several years now with the rise of mobile devices taking a larger and larger portion of oppressions, of search queries, of basically everything. And so they want to make sure again, from a user experience perspective, they wanna make sure that when somebody loads up your page on a mobile device, it’s readable, it’s interactable and it doesn’t break. There are a lot of things that can affect how a page looks on a mobile device, screen size being really only one of them. That’s the one that people jump to the most because it’s the easiest. It’s the easiest thing to solve for. You add some media queries that change the size of the width of your content and it changes the font size, but that’s only one piece of it really. There’s things like having elements too close together. You don’t want somebody accidentally clicking the wrong button. You wanna make sure if there’s two buttons next to each other, there is plenty of room so that you will never accidentally click the wrong thing. You wanna make sure that as your page is loading onto the screen and as it comes visible, that text isn’t tiny. And that is something that you will get thanked for if it starts out tiny and then adjusts after page load. You should always be serving an optimized version for mobile. It’s mobile first. You design for mobile, and then you can expand out to desktop because desktops in almost all cases have more processing power. They’re better equipped to deal with these things that were built for desktop. But when you build for mobile first, you’re getting a leg up on anything that was designed for desktop first.
– So two things there. One, I know that I’ve looked at Comscore data recently that suggests for the last year, 2020, more than 72% of all searches were now mobile. And that’s just a huge volume, which says for the user to be less served doing exactly what you said, starting with mobile and building from there. But second, I know Google has spent a lot of time over the last several years pushing the amp pages, but I know that with this rollout, they’re gonna cease to identify with these badges, who’s using an amp page and who isn’t. It seems like maybe they’re not gonna press it quite as hard as long as you can remain compliant, but you’re gonna understand the implications there more. So can you tell us what the amp pages are and why they may not be a fit for most of those in our audience?
– Yeah absolutely, so to start with, amp pages stands for accelerated mobile page and what they are, is in almost all cases, it’s a very stripped down version of a desktop page. It removes elements that could be tricky on a mobile device, things that may shift around, things that may be smaller, things that you just don’t need. It’s all about getting to the core of what that page is as quickly as possible. And the way that amp actually works is that Google takes a copy of your amp page and they cache it so that it is delivered extremely quickly to somebody who views that page from Google. Now, amp is not always the best solution. If you can make your own site just as fast, then you should always do that because you want to be in control of that. You want to be the one determining what’s there, what shows up. And with this newest update, Google, their top stories, carousel at the top of some search result pages, it used to be amp only. If you wanted to be in that carousel, you had to have an amp page. But that’s no longer the case. As long as you can meet the criteria and the speed and what they’re looking for there, it does not matter anymore if it’s AMP or if it’s not AMP. They’ve said they won’t be prioritizing one over the other. And there’s a few more smaller pieces to the page experience update. And again, these are not new things, but they are things that are now officially codified into the Google algorithm, things that will be strict signals for ranking. The first of which is safe browsing, which I’ll be honest, when I read that, I was like, I had to Google it and I go, “What does that actually mean?” And what that means is, have you ever clicked on a link and it pops up one of those red or gray safety pages where it says, “You’re proceeding to an unsafe site. “Do you want to return back to safety?” And there are three things that safe browsing will look for, it’s malware, which is the easy one. That’s viruses, scams, that kind of thing. The second one is misleading software, unwanted software, and that is software that claims to do one thing, but then does another. It may still do that thing it claims to do, but it also does something else that you might not want it to do. Something like changing your homepage in your browser or setting bookmarks that you didn’t ask it to, things like that. And the last thing is the social engineering. And this has been something that I think a lot of companies, not just Google, companies, like AT&T and Verizon are having to deal with now thanks to some legislation that’s come out and it’s all about trying to discourage scams, things that seem to be legit. And there are a lot of these companies that they spend a lot of money and they spend a lot of time making websites that look really good and could pass as real companies. And so Google is taking a firm stance and saying, “We are doing everything we can “to stop this from happening.” It’s a difficult thing to do, but they’re trying to identify who’s real and who’s not.
– That’s really interesting in creating some source material for this conversation today. I was reading an article on searchenginejournal.com that was speaking to a few experts in this whole winners and losers conversation. One thing that was noted by one of the contributors was a surprisingly large number of fake landing pages for airports, basically pages that purported to be information and links for the airport itself and were not that at all. And that a rash of those were recently basically approaching 100% of their visibility.
– Yes, and that is something that is not unique even to that industry. What we’ve seeing a lot particularly with like Google my business and local listings is we’ve seen a lot of fake companies popping up in there. And Google has, I think learned a lot from that incident that started maybe a year ago up till now. And they’ve been putting things into place to try and combat that as much as they can, which leads us right into the next one is the HTTPS secure browsing. This is again, something that is not new. And there has been data from multiple sources. I think Semrush maybe in 2019 had a report outlining after there was a core update, the impact of HTTPS secured pages versus non-secured pages that were very similar. And there was a noticeable difference in having HTTPS versus an insecure connection. And this again is just them saying that we are taking this seriously. This is important with privacy being at the forefront of so many things is we want you to know, we want somebody who clicks from a Google search result to know that their traffic is safe, that it’s secure, that if they submit a contact form that may have some personal information in it, that, that information is safe. And having that SSL, it’s so easy to set up. And if you don’t have it set up yet, go do it right now, go do it right now. It’s super easy and it makes all the difference in the world.
– I’m old enough to remember when that protocol was kind of reserved for the financial industry basically. And it really has become the standard in a sort of minimum expectation of security from both the user aspect or the user vantage point and now with the page experience from Google’s point of view.
– Yes definitely, and there is still almost that kind of dual hierarchy of you’ll see like banks, they’ll have next to the lock in the URL, it’ll say PNC Bank Association, or Fifth Third Bank Association. And if you really wanted to get that for your law firm, you could do so, but you don’t need it. It costs a lot of money to have that verified, but it’s the same level of secure whether you have that or you don’t have that.
– And thankfully, we have a technical expert like Joe on staff here to help us not only identify but proactively plan for and correct issues should we find them. But in conjunction with this page experience rollout, Google’s rolled out some new tools. Joe mentioned a couple. One is the rich test results, which is an update to a previous tool. But also within search console, Google is rolling out tools and reports regarding most of the items that we just discussed. Now, these tools are new. I first started seeing them available for my clients inside the month of June. Many of my clients being with a specific geography in addition to their practice areas kind of limiting their audience, they have these tools available, but they’re saying that there’s, “Not enough data yet to actually populate these reports.” If you see that inside console, it’s nothing to be concerned about. The same data is being tracked. It’s being presented in a different fashion now. And so those reports won’t begin to populate shortly, but I think we’re sharing with you. You can see that you’re gonna have an overall percentage in terms of the URLs with a “Good page experience.” This is gonna enable you to zero in on what you’re doing well, what pages might be having difficulty in terms of this new page experience ranking. And within search council then you can actually dig down into the core web vitals, the mobile usability, the security issues and protocol, et cetera, that Joe just discussed. So it is great to have all of those things in one place certainly in addition to other tools like the page speed developer tool and the rich test tool. Now, the other thing that you now be able to do with the console is inside your performance report where you’re able to review queries, impressions, clicks, click-through rate, compare data over time, et cetera, you’re now gonna be able to filter that performance data by your “Good URLs”, those that are passing this page experience test overall so that you can look only at those that are “Good URLs”, those that are not or your site altogether. Simply the fact Joe, that they’re allowing you to kind of view your site as good and not good says a lot about how seriously they’re taking both the measurement and the responsibility of publishers to take the page experience update seriously.
– I mean, it’s rare that Google ever comes out with something black and white like that. They are very good at giving you a bunch of information and letting you interpret it how you wish. And for them to actually say this is good, or this is bad is something that should be taken very seriously because if they’re telling you this is bad, then it’s bad and it will hurt you. So you wanna make sure that you’re taking advantage of these tools that they’re providing you through Search Console.
– And we’re gonna provide links to those tools that we mentioned today as well as any of the resources that we use to kind of put together this conversation or that we cited throughout. Just to review, the June, July update simply by nature of being the first two-phase update appears to be very broad and potentially impactful. We’re seeing a lot of volatility, but in the larger context of what Google’s been sharing with us over the last year, they’re continuing to drive deeper onto the expertise authority and trust principle. They’re continuing to incentivize those who are going to augment with quality data, who are going to be specific in responding to user’s queries, who are going to organize their information correctly, who are going to deliver the most value to the user both in terms of what that content is and how that’s delivered. Adding to that, the page experience update as the mechanism, if you will not just what is the quality of the content, that is the quality of the object at the end of the query, how quickly are you getting it there, how stable is it once it’s there, et cetera, Google has spent all of the last year continuing to refine again on quality over quantity. That’s why we’re seeing these directory and review sites with the most immediate diminishment. And so overall, we wanna encourage you to take these updates seriously. When Google provides guidance, make sure that you’re paying attention to what that guidance is and then you take the necessary steps. And that overall, you continue to put that quality over quantity, regardless of the type or format of the content that you are trying to deliver value to those that have landed on your pages. So Joe Brodar, thank you very much for joining me today. I appreciate it.
– Yes, thanks for talking to us. It was a good conversation.
– Absolutely, it’s a lot going on, but we thank all of you as well. Certainly, we look forward to speaking with you in the future.
– Hey, what’s up, I’m Josh. Thanks so much for joining us. If you feel like you learned something today, think of how beneficial it would be to chat with myself or another one of our marketing consultants one-on-one. Go ahead and visit our website to schedule your free consultation. It only takes a minute.