We’ve seen another busy month for industry and Google Updates in May 2020. The May 2020 Core Algorithm Update finalised rolling out, Google announced a new ranking factor in 2021 to improve the user’s overall page experience and Google has seen to be suggesting searches based on users’ recent activity.
Google May 2020 Core Update Finished Rolling Out
Google’s core algorithm update, that started rolling out on Monday 4th May 2020 finished rolling out on 18th May. Please, view more details around this large algorithm update in April’s post here.
The May 2020 Core Update rollout is complete.
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) May 18, 2020
Now is the time to review your various analytics channels and understand the impact, positive or negative, this may have on your site and strategise what you can do to improve your website as a whole.
Google’s Page Experience Ranking Factor
On May 28, Google announced that it would roll out a new ranking factor in 2021 designed to evaluate pages based on a user’s expected experience after clicking onto the page. The new update, called the Google Page Experience update, will mean that pages that perform poorly against the criteria outlined by Google may experience ranking drops from next year.
Following the announcement, Google released a detailed description of the criteria involved, which can be summarised as the following:
Core Web Vitals
A key aspect of the new ranking factor is how quickly a page loads in line with Google’s Core Web Vitals. This page speed standard looks at real-world metrics, and falls specifically under three main categories:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
This measures the amount of time to render the largest content element from when the user clicks onto the URL. Google’s recommended LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page begins loading.
First Input Delay (FID)
This measures the time between a user first interacting with a page, such as by clicking onto a link or a button, and the browser responding to the interaction. Pages that provide a good user experience have an FID lower than 100 milliseconds.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
This measures the amount that the page layout changes during the loading phase on a scale of 0-1 (zero being no shift and 1 being complete shift). The idea behind this metric is that a page with shifting elements provides a bad user experience. Pages that provide a good user experience have a CLS of less than 0.1.
Pages that are mobile-friendly will be rewarded as part of this latest ranking factor update. Mobile-friendliness has been a ranking factor since 2015, and Google has previously outlined its plans to make a page’s mobile content the default version used in its index for ranking purposes for all sites by September 2020. You can use Google’s mobile-friendly testing tool to see if your site’s pages meet the requirements.
Pages will be evaluated on whether they have malicious or deceptive content, such as malware or scam pages. (for example, malware) or deceptive (for example, social engineering) content. You can check for this using Google’s Security Issues report.
Google recommends that all websites serve their pages over HTTPS to ensure users can navigate the web via encrypted requests that keep their data safe.
Google has been clamping down on obstructive interstitials, such as pop ups that cover the main content, since 2017. However, some interstitials are exempt, such as interstitials for legal requirements (e.g. cookies) and banners that are easily dismissable.
Google clarified that this new update would not take place until 2021, and that it would give webmasters notice 6 months before launching. They also announced that AMP would no longer be necessary for Top Stories on mobile devices, which means that a wider variety of publishers will be eligible for this SERP feature on mobile next year.
Bing Can Answer Yes Or No Queries
Bing, one of Google’s main search engine competitors, announced on May 19 that it could now answer certain queries with a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer. This new SERP feature, similar to Google’s Instant Answer box, appears for queries with a simple answer, and shows a carousel of sources for users to verify the result.
The new query currently appears in the US for searches like ‘Can dogs eat chocolate?’, but will soon expand to other markets. The feature is powered by Bing’s Natural Language Representation (NLR) model, which evaluates the relevance of web resources to the search query and whether a definitive ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer can be given.
Webmasters should monitor their keywords in Bing, particularly in the US, to see how impressions and clicks are affected by this new feature.
Google Search Console Adds New Guided Recipe Reports
On May 19th, Google launched a new enhancement report in Google Search Console for Guided Recipes. Guided Recipes helps users to find your specific recipe in a clear format. These guided recipes allow users to ask their assistant for recipes and to have the most appropriate read back to them with accompanying videos and images.
By telling Google about your recipe with structured data, this helps Google to better understand your recipe and present this to users in the most useful way, including through Google Search, Google Images and Voice Assistants.
This new report in GSC, in conjunction with Google’s Rich result status reports allows you to discover and troubleshoot issues with your recipe markup in an efficient manner, see how your structured data is being crawled, inspect specific URLs and tell Google that you’ve fixed issues. This is likely to help Google to crawl these recipes more regularly, whilst also leading to recipes showing up properly in Google faster.
Over the past couple of years, voice assistants such as Google Home and Google Nest Hub have allowed users to discover recipes across the globe and follow step by step recipes as they cook. We’ve recently analysed the shift in ‘recipe’ trends worldwide during lockdown to display the wide range of recipes available.
Recipe dedicated sites have patiently waited for Google to reprocess and to fully understand what each recipe is detailing to provide a clear and fast way for users to access this popular format.
Google Suggests Searches Based On Users’ Recent Activity
At the beginning of May, various people in the SEO community spotted a live test to how users would react to Google suggesting searches based on recent user activity/ searches. This has been reported for some users that have been logged into their Google accounts outlining various search intents.
We’ve seen similar features rolled out and have become an integral part of Google’s search, including “people also ask” and “related searches” helping users to find what they’re looking for and sometimes, even before the user may’ve even considered it.
With this update being silently rolled out through a server-side update, this could be Google testing out the possibility of a new UI/UX if the engagement is successful. This is something that we will continue to monitor as it may continue to roll out.
If you’ve been hit by a Google Algorithm update and seeking for an agency to help with your recovery, get in touch with our team of digital specialists.