For brands with an online presence, a change to Google’s algorithm is an event worth paying attention to. The slightest tweak can be enormously consequential to businesses who fall on the wrong side of it – but it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to understand the full impact of any change until well after it’s been implemented.
So, what purpose does this new update serve, and what changes might we expect from it? Let’s try to unpack some of what’s to come.
What’s the Google Algorithm?
The Google Algorithm is a formula via which webpages are judged and sorted according to a given search term. Its precise composition is a closely guarded secret. In practice, what we call ‘The Google Algorithm’ is actually a whole bundle of programs designed to deliver on Google’s objective – which is to unite Google users with the content that they’re looking for, and thereby secure revenue from advertisers.
How are sites judged?
Unlike past updates to the algorithm, this one focusses on user experience. You might think of UX as a subjective thing, but there are actually a few quantifiable factors which will be used to determine it. The quality of a given page will be driven by a trio of new metrics. These are:
Largest Contentful Paint – which is a measure of how quickly the largest element is rendered.
First Input Delay – this measures the disparity between user input and response from the browser
Cumulative Layout Shift – this measures the degree to which page elements move around thanks to incomplete loading.
What should Business do?
If you’re running an existing e-commerce venture, there are a few areas to focus on:
More than half of all web traffic comes through mobile devices. If the mobile versions of your site aren’t able to load promptly, they’ll therefore be at a significant disadvantage relative to pages that do. This has always been the case, to an extent, thanks to Google’s habit of punishing high ‘bounce rates’. With these UX-centred metrics being brought in, this consideration will only become more important.
Focus on Existing Customers
One consequence of the update is that new customers will find it more difficult to find your website. This makes it especially important to nurture your existing customer base. Give them a reason to keep coming back, through a loyalty program, and other such incentives.
Keep Everything Encrypted
Increasingly, non-encrypted pages will find themselves penalised by Google. A Secure Sockets Layer certificate is what ensures that data submitted by the user cannot be intercepted by third parties – Google, along with most major browsers, will flag sites which lack certification, vastly reducing the traffic they’re able to bring in. For e-commerce businesses, which rely on visitors feeling comfortable in submitting sensitive data, this is a major problem.
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