Another month, another round of updates! This month we focus on big news coming from Google with a pre-announced algorithm change along with some slight updates to their products.

Google Search Console Updates

Google has been investing heavily into Search Console for the last few years to the point where it’s typically more fine-tuning than anything huge. This month sees one convenient filtering option being added via regular expressions and an update to the comparison mode.

Regular Expressions for Performance Reports

This month sees improvements in filters whereby regular expressions can now be used in Performance reports. This feature has been in the likes of Google Analytics for the better part of forever, and it’s nice to see it available here finally. Previously users could only search for three patterns:

  1. Containing a string
  2. Not containing a string
  3. Exactly matching a string

With regular expressions, you can now search for multiple samples at once, making filtering the data much more powerful. 

For example, if your brand is referred to as “Company Name”, “CompanyName”, or “CN”, you could extract data for all 3 using the regular expression:

Company name|companyname|cn

Neato!

Revamped Comparison Mode

Comparison mode is a handy feature in Search Console that allows you to compare data between devices (mobile vs. desktop) etc. Previously when more than a single metric was selected, the table didn’t show any percentage difference. The mode has now been updated to allow for multiple comparisons.

New Comparison Mode in Google Search Console

Double neato!

You can learn more about these features via Google Webmaster Central.

Page Experience & Core Web Vitals

In November 2020, Google announced the “page experience update” would go live this year and has released a bunch of information to help site owners improve their page experience and prepare for the algorithm changes.

Key Points

  1. The rollout will be gradual and start in mid-June 2021
  2. The update considers several page experience signals, including three Core Web Vitals metrics (LCP, FID and CLS).
  3. There is a new Page experience report

What is it?

New ranking signals that will combine with existing signals like mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS and interstitials.

Core Web Vitals assess good UX from the perspective of loading, interactivity and visual stability on any given page. Here’s an extract from the Google documentation explaining precisely what that is:

  • Largest Contentful Pain (LCP)
    • Measures loading performance. To provide a good user experience, sites should strive to have LCP occur within the first 2.5 seconds of the page starting to load.
  • First Input Delay (FID)
    • Measures interactivity. To provide a good user experience, sites should strive to have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
    • Measures visual stability. To provide a good user experience, sites should strive to have a CLS score of less than 0.1.

You can read more about how page experience signals via Google here.

Page Experience Report in Google Search Console

To help users improve their page experience, Google has been introducing the Page experience report, which is somewhat of an amalgamation of some previous reports, including those about Core Web Vitals and Mobile Usability. The report shows important metrics such as the percentage of URLs with “Good” page experience, allowing quick analysis of site health. It also provides recommendations on how to improve site health.

The New Page Experience Report in Google Search Console

Look out for the report in your Google Search Console account and have a poke around – there is gold in there!

What does it mean?

Whilst we can’t be sure of the size of impact this will have on organic results if the past is anything to go by (and it usually is with these sorts of things), the shift in results will be different for almost everyone depending on variables such as the industry and region the website is in, but there WILL be a shift. Especially with more uptake on actioning these kinds of improvements.

Being a combined UX & SEO agency, we’ve always recommended strong UX and optimised pages for speed, and it’s great to see the direction the web is going. Make sure you’re on top of this stuff, or your competitors will be, and you’ll be left in their dust!

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