Major search engines like Google are constantly making changes to improve search results and ensure their users have the best experience possible. With Google’s algorithm constantly evolving, it’s important to stay aware of the latest developments so you can set your business up for success.
Here, we explore some of the most important recent updates to bear in mind as you update your search engine optimization strategy.
Web accessibility refers to optimizations that make sure websites are accessible and usable for everyone. It ensures all users are able to perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with a website. It’s important to keep in mind that there are not only SEO reasons to make your site accessible but ethical and legal reasons as well.
The Intersection of SEO and Accessibility
There is already overlap between accessibility best practices and search engine best practices; accessible sites tend to be more user-friendly and have better SEO. This overlap includes image alt text, link anchor text, heading tag structure, and more. These practices will not only fulfill the need to make your website more accessible, but will also provide search engines with more information, increasing the chances of your website ranking higher. Specific labeling, clear descriptions, and careful linking of web pages for easy navigation are key SEO best practices.
What Matters to Accessible Users
When thinking about making your website more accessible, it’s important to understand what relevant users care about. First, ensure your website is accessible for users who are using only a keyboard. Second, make sure your website can be used with a screen reader, which is an accessibility tool for vision-impaired users that reads content aloud. Third, be sure to include vivid descriptions of visual information on your site, via thoughtfully-written alt text. This not only makes your images more indexable but also makes your site more accessible to vision-impaired users.
What Does This Mean for SEO?
Google uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to understand what your site is about. Google uses its search engine robots, commonly called “spiders,” to “crawl” websites and glean information about them. Spiders have limited capabilities, similar to screen readers. Search engine robots can interpret accessible websites more accurately, so they’re more likely to rank them higher. An easy-to-understand website is also more likely to offer a better user experience, which will also improve the search positioning of a website. The descriptions needed to explain a website to Google are similar to the enhancements required to make a website more accessible for someone with disabilities. Therefore, having an accessible website will organically improve your Google search rankings.
Google Already Measures Accessibility
Google measures the accessibility of a website through Lighthouse, which is a website performance testing tool. While Google isn’t currently weighing accessibility in its rankings, it has the potential to be the next big algorithm update. However, if your strategy is to bring users to your website through search engines, you should already be incorporating accessibility considerations into your SEO strategy.
Democratization of Search
Google is becoming more democratic in its search engine results as results become more solution-oriented. This means that Google is providing more options to users who search for broad, mixed-intent terms, essentially “covering all bases” by including all the possibilities that the user may be searching for. When it comes to searching with specific intent, Google is providing more specific and helpful content in varied formats to best answer questions in the way the users want. This could be text, images, videos, and more. This results in having more diverse search engine results page (SERP) features from more sources and more specific results based on the user’s intent.
A More Diverse SERP
The diversity in SERPs means you can expect to see information from more sources, including the following:
- Google Shopping / popular products
- Google Business (takeover & inline posts)
- Rich snippets
- Image packs & extensions
- Video carousel & extensions
- Map packs
- Site extensions
- Knowledge panels
- Social packs
- News packs
Google Rewards Specific Answers
Google continues to provide more specific results to users that fully address the topic at hand and provide a good user experience, versus more generalized pages from high-authority domains. Overall, Google is focusing on providing quality search results. Users want to find content that is concise, specific, and thorough in order to find answers to their questions. This type of content can come in the following forms:
- Long-form content broken into digestible sections
- Topical clusters
- Helpful content
- Helpful videos (indexable)
- Helpful images
- Social engagement
- Trending, newsworthy content
Core Web Vitals Updates
Three main metrics are quantified in the page experience update known as Core Web Vitals: largest contentful paint (LCP), first input delay (FID), and cumulative layout shift (CLS). LCP measures everything that is loaded onto your page, from content to images to navigation, and LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds. FID measures interactivity, and pages should have a FID of 100ms or less. CLS measures visual stability and these pages should maintain a CLS of 0.1 or less. The page experience update started rolling out for desktop in February 2022 and was completed by the end of March 2022, so these expectations have now become the standard to meet.
Core Web Vitals Expectations
There is a possibility of new metrics being introduced to Google, and the two we are looking at are smoothness and responsiveness. We predict that the smoothness of animations on your page and how quickly your page interacts or responds will become part of the metrics used to rank websites on Google.
The two most important tools we anticipate becoming more necessary are Google Search Console and Pagespeed Insights. Search Console provides URL-level data in a Core Web Vitals report, giving you metrics to understand how your website measures against these vitals. Pagespeed Insight provides field data, which is a 28-day view of real users viewing your website, giving you the chance to see how real users interact with your website.
New Google Updates
Google releases new updates all the time to improve its search results. This includes making significant additional changes to their search algorithms and systems as well as confirming broad core updates when they produce notable effects.
Core Update Guidelines
Google specifically mentions the following questions for websites to consider when they look at their rankings.
- Does the content provide original info, reporting, research, or analysis?
- Does the content provide a substantial, complete, or comprehensive description of the topic?
- Does the headline and/or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?
- Is this the sort of page you'd want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
- Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it?
- If you researched the site producing the content, would you come away with an impression that it is well-trusted or widely recognized as an authority on its topic?
- Is this content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?
- Does the content have any easily-verified factual errors?
Presentation and Product
- Does the content have any spelling or stylistic issues?
- Was the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
- Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across sites?
- Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
- Does the content seem to be serving the genuine interests of visitors to the site?
One of the biggest recent Google updates affects video. You can now see your video indexation status, telling you whether Google can see the videos you have on your website or not. There are many reasons why videos can be more enticing when searching for answers. Video can present an easier to engage with solution, and help customers connect with your business and enjoy time spent learning the answers to their questions. Video can be found in the form of Google Business posts, YouTube Search or Shorts, 3-Pack results, on social media pages, and more.
SEO Tools & Extensions
There are many tools and extensions out there to help improve your SEO. Below are some we use daily to ensure our clients are on the path to success.
- Google Skillshop
- Analytics Academy
- HubSpot Academy Courses
- Google Search Console
- Bing Webmaster Tools
- Google Business
- Google Data Studio and the Template Gallery
- Mobile Testing Tool
- Rich Snippet Testing Tool
- Robots TXT Testing Tool
- PageSpeed Insights
- GtMetrix Core Web Vitals Checker
- Pingdom Website Speed Test
- Sitemap Finder BuiltWith
SEO Chrome Extensions
- Portent’s SEO Page Review
- SEO Search Simulator
- Broken Link Checker
- Free Backlink Checker by LRT
- Keywords Everywhere
- Ahrefs SEO Toolbar
General Chrome Extensions
- Google Tag Assistant
- Facebook Pixel Helper
- Copy All URLs
- Link Grabber
- Copy Selected Links
- Bulk URL Opener
Learn More About Google Developments
Google is changing every day and it can be hard to keep up. Americaneagle.com understands that and has an entire team of certified digital marketers and search engine optimization experts to help you stay on track with the most important information.
We’ve helped thousands of customers create exceptional digital experiences, be it through website design, website development, digital marketing services, and more. Our global team of experts work diligently to ensure your business is continuously achieving its goals. Contact us today to learn more about all of the ways we can help you grow.