Earlier this year, Google announced that it would be making some significant changes to how its algorithm worked. From 2021, the search giant will rank sites according to the degree to which they induce user “delight.”
In other words, Google will evaluate how enjoyable your website is to use. Make it slick and provide relevant information, and you’ll move up the ranks. Stick with old SEO techniques, and you’ll crash and burn.
Google announced that it would be changing its policy in April and provided further details in May. Currently, executives haven’t announced precisely when the new algorithms will kick in, but expect them within the next nine to twelve months. We could even see them as early as January 2021 if they’re ready.
The move marks the firm’s commitment to providing users with a high-quality experience. It wants to make each interaction they have with the platform memorable. And it wants to ensure that businesses aren’t rigging results by paying for backlinks, without backing them up with quality content.
The name for the new algorithm is page experience. Google wants to make it so that everyone who goes to a website on its platform to feel a sense of delight when trawling through results.
The new system discourages businesses from deploying intrusive popups or running sites on slow servers. Instead, it forces them to focus more on the user experience, and less on some of the more artificial ranking techniques of the past.
Ultimately, this is all part of Google’s plan to provide the world with relevant information. But now the company realises that simply serving up content doesn’t make perfect business sense. People want answers to their questions.
But they also want to experience them in a pleasant way. They don’t want to have to wade through endless popups, just to get the content that they want.
Making A Compelling Website Just Got Easier
This announcement might sound like bad news for businesses, but it is not at all. In fact, it is the opposite. Companies that generate quality content are much more likely to receive traffic than those who focus exclusively on keywords and other standard techniques.
Over the next few months, Google is seeking to reward webmasters who invest time and effort into making their results entertaining and informative for users. It means that practically anyone with a good idea can sit down, produce content, and then have it recognised all over the web.
Building a great website no longer involves many of the technicalities of the past. They’re still important, but they’re not as artificial. Everything you do now should be geared towards impressing customers, not the algorithm. The more you do that, the more traffic you’ll get, and the more people will have a good experience of your site.
The job of a modern website designer, therefore, is to ensure that your site achieves Google’s new standards. It needs to be mobile-friendly, published in HTTPS, and fast-loading.
It also needs to have page elements in the frame of view that appear quickly, and the order of items should not change. Tasks like this are still technical, but they improve the UX at the same time, thereby boosting your brand.
So what can you do to impress Google and get the jump on this upcoming algorithm? Let’s take a look at some of your options.
Remove Pop-Ups From Your Site
Many businesses insist on using popups to build their mailing lists. But is that wise?
According to Google, most users don’t actually like website popups. It gets in the way of accessing the information that they want, and it forces them to make extra clicks.
If you need to build a mailing list, there are better ways to do it. One idea is to offer customers a free trial in exchange for their email addresses. This way, they actively choose to provide you with the information that you want - no popups required.
You also need to remove other interstitials from your site. Online magazines will often overlay their homepage with a full-page ad - something that is essentially a giant popup. They do this because their marketing research says it works. But just like regular popups, it creates problems for users and wrecks the experience of the site.
Google now wants to rig incentives against these techniques. It says that sites that do not have intrusive interstitials will rank better than those that do, all things held equal. And so businesses are going to have to compromise. Either they can get signups via popups at the expense of ranking lower. Or they can get more traffic but have to find alternative ways to capture emails.
Make Sure Your Pages Load Without Juggling Elements
Have you ever arrived on a webpage, only to find that it juggles around as it loads? It’s annoying, isn’t it?
Sites usually do this when there are large objects on the page, such as pictures. Images don’t load as fast as text, so they tend to appear a couple of seconds later. When they do, they immediately slot into the surrounding text, shifting the whole page around in the browser.
Again, Google wants to put an end to this because it hurts the UX. So businesses need to reconfigure their pages and perhaps remove slow-loading images (or compress them).
Improve Mobile Access
Mobile-friendly websites have been a part of Google’s strategy for a long time. Smartphone searches now outnumber their desktop counterparts. Even in 2020, though, a lot of companies still haven’t adjusted their sites.
If you want to find out whether your site is mobile-friendly, you can ask Google directly, and it will tell you. Most package website builders automatically make sites hit Google’s criteria, but some don’t, so you’ll need to check first.
The bottom line is this: websites are becoming more user-friendly and functional, and Google is driving the change. If you have something unique to share with the community, it will become much easier to get the message out.