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This week’s #searchdrop looks at whether Core Web Vitals will be become a ranking factor, plus the recovery time from Google Algorithm updates and Google’s BERT AI being used in fact-checking content.

Core Web Vitals Are Unlikely To Become The Primary Ranking Factor

In our recent Searchdrop blogs, we’ve been writing about the importance of the good loading speed of your website and how new Core Web Vitals results might be a crucial ranking factor for Google in the future.

The Google Page Experience Update was announced earlier this year to be implemented sometime in 2021, but even though it’s still a few months away, SEO Specialists are already speculating on how important this update will be.

Luckily, we’ve now had some additional information and clarification from Gary Illyes (who works for Google). He confirmed in a recent answer on a Reddit page that it is extremely unlikely that CWV will ever become “the primary factor for Organic Traffic”.

Barry Schwartz also mentioned that he doubts the importance of Core Web Vitals as a ranking factor. This is due to the fact that Google already has HTTPS, page speed, mobile-friendliness and more as ranking factors and none of them have high importance or impact on the ranking positions.

Many of you might now think that if Google will not set the CWV as a primary ranking factor, then you don’t need to rush with speed improvements on the website. However, here at ASSISTED. we would still suggest investing in the website improvements, including page speed improvements.

Search engine optimization should never focus on rankings only. Websites that rank in top positions in search engine results will be fundamentally helpful and useful sites, with high quality and informative content. They’ll be fast, easy to use, and most importantly answer the question asked by the Google user. With this in mind, if your website already has great content which brings a lot of quality traffic but is very slow for mobiles, then your website will most likely be affected by the Core Web Vitals algorithm update in 2021.

Improved page speed can bring a range of positive changes in user behaviour to your website, from lowered bounce rates (when users leave your website without taking any action on your website) to an improved number of conversions in your eCommerce store. Google doesn’t often give SEO specialists and site owners advance inside info about algorithm changes, so we should grab this chance to use this time to improve the speed and quality of our websites.

For more core web vitals info, check out these previous Searchdrop blog posts:

Searchdrop week 14

Searchdrop week 15

Searchdrop week 25

An Insight Into Google’s Core Update Recovery Time

Along with a Google Core Algorithm update comes uncertainty, stress and multiple reviews of your website’s performance. But recently Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller, shed some light on recovery times following on from a Core Algorithm update in a Webmaster Central Office Hours Hangout.

Is Recovery Possible Without Another Update?

According to John, Google’s algorithm’s main intention is to understand how the search engine results page is relevant to the user and their query. He explained that (unlike in the early 2000s) after an algorithm update hits it is now possible to climb back up the rankings before the next update.

How To Recover After A Google Algorithm Update?

As Google’s index is constantly refreshing, even after an algorithm update, the key to recovering if you’re negatively impacted is just to simply continue making site improvements.

What To Work On?

  • Research The Update – Identifying the impacts of the algorithm through articles and other people’s experiences online is the best first step towards recovery after an update. By recognising what Google has begun prioritising, you can target your SEO work accordingly to begin improving your rankings again.
  • Diversifying Your Content – Through keeping your content original and relevant to your audience, you’re already on the right track to gaining high levels of traffic and therefore climbing the rankings. However, by ensuring that you vary the types of content being uploaded to your website, you’re more likely to engage users over a longer period of time.
  • Focusing On User Experience – Maintaining a focus on user experience throughout is what will allow you to see the best results. By ensuring that your website is easily navigatable, functioning smoothly and offering relevant and high-quality information to your audience, your bounce rate will decrease whilst your ranking increases. As quoted by Google “focus on the user and all else will follow.”

For more details, check out this article from Search Engine Journal.

Google quote source: https://www.google.com/about/philosophy.html 

Google now using BERT algorithm add fact-checking to content

Around October last year, Google announced BERT or Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. BERT is a natural language AI that initially was designed to help understand the nuances and context of searches by users and match them with better search results, as well as support in providing rich snippets within the results themselves. There is a great example here of the importance of BERT and its ability to understand the context of a search query.

Google has recently announced that BERT is now being used to match stories with the relevant ‘fact check’. This is part of Google’s aim to provide accurate, relevant and reliable.

What are the implications for businesses?

Currently nothing, as the process is being used as part of the US election in November. But if you consider businesses that are under YMYL (or ‘Your money or your life’, an additional layer of scrutiny some sites go through) these businesses will be able to be ‘fact-checked’ by BERT, potentially impacting the search results by providing users with further information on a claim made on site. Businesses that are honest and keep their information up to date will do well from any future utilisation of this new use for BERT and in the long term, it will enhance the experience of searching with Google for all users.

Here’s the official announcement from Google.