As we are all well aware, this month Google will be updating its algorithm with the aim of improving the user experience. With these changes, however, it’s reported that many of the top-ranking websites will be affected, meaning they need to take action now to ensure all of the hard SEO work they’ve done is not lost.
Whether you’re fully in the know about Google’s algorithm update or you’re completely unaware of what’s to come this May, we’ve compiled a checklist below so you can tick them off as you go. Below are the key things to keep an eye out for, especially since Google’s focus is now on a better user experience. Train your mind to see your website as a new user, not the website owner, marketing manager, developer, and so on. Only once you see it through fresh, new eyes will you start to understand how the experience is for a user and whether Google is going to penalise you for not adhering to their new update.
Core parts of the Google algorithm update
There are 4 main aspects of the update for you to focus on: safe browsing, HTTPS, mobile-friendliness, and intrusive interstitial guide. Google will use their Web Vitals to monitor your website and page performances.
Google Web Vitals Reminder
Page Loading time – this will monitor the time the page opens and the length of time it will take for the content to display to the user.
Interactivity – how easy is the page to navigate and for the user to interact with the page.
Visual Stability – when a user is interacting with the page, how will the page behave and will the content move around making the interaction difficult for the user.
Your Google algorithm update checklist
1. Safe browsing
- Does your website have safe browsing in place? Does it have antivirus and malware protection?
- Does your website code have anything malicious lurking in the background?
- Is your code strong enough to prevent hackers from gaining access to your website?
- Are your payment methods safe and secure for your customers?
- When was the last time you ran a check on your website browsing performance?
- Do you have domain monitoring in place?
Always remember, Google’s aim is to improve the user experience online, through mobile and desktop devices. With online safety becoming such a big topic in recent years, Google has now implemented this change to make sure that online companies finally take it seriously. The update will focus on websites that have spammy, malware, or other deceptive practices and also identify any weaknesses in the website code that hackers could exploit. If your site falls below the standard, it will affect your ranking and performance.
Top tip: Make sure to check the appearance and performance of your site.
2. The use of HTTPS
- Does your website use HTTP or HTTPS?
- Do you know the importance of HTTPS vs HTTP?
- Do you have SSL monitoring in place to ensure your certificate isn’t set to expire?
- Do you know where to get an SSL certificate and how to implement it on your website?
Websites that display the ‘HTTPS’ on their URL will now be rewarded and given better rankings in the search engine. The secure HTTPS websites provide their customers with a better and more secure website experience and Google has now decided to make this one of their priorities for page ranking.
Top tip: If your site does not have this, it is highly recommended that you get yours secured ASAP so you don’t get penalised by the update.
3. Mobile Friendliness
- Is your website mobile-friendly?
- Is your website optimised for mobile use?
- Do all of your pages and their content load on mobile?
- Is your page speed fast enough for mobile users?
- Is your content form appropriate for mobile devices?
- Do videos play on mobile devices?
As we’ve seen over the past few years, more than 50% of all web searches are now completed on a mobile device. So to further improve the user’s experience on mobile, Google wants all websites to optimise and improve their UX for mobile. There’s data to suggest that poor page performance such as slow loading time on mobile can affect conversion by as much as 70%. Now that’s no laughing matter.
Top tip: If your website does not have an efficient and effective journey on mobile, you will need to fix this quickly before Google starts to penalise your website.
4. Intrusive Interstitial Guide
- Do you have pop-ups on your website?
- Are they based on user behaviour or simply when a user lands on your website?
- Does the pop-up take up so much of the screen that nothing else is visible?
- Are the pop-ups intrusive to the user?
- Do you have more than one pop-up across your site?
- If a user closes the pop-up, does another one immediately show?
- Do your pop-ups have a real value to the user or to your conversions?
Intrusive Interstitial Guide relates to any pop-ups that you may currently have working on your site for either marketing or sales purposes. Google is not putting a stop to pop-ups all together but it has placed some rather strict guidelines to help the user’s website experience. You only need to change your pop-ups if they cover most of the screen or visibly reduce the content on the screen.
Top tip: If your pop-ups do any of these then be sure to reduce the size of them so the majority of a webpage is still visible, ensuring that it falls in line with the rest of the Google update.
Further aspects of your website to check
- Is the page loading speed on your website fast enough for the user?
- Do you have page speed monitoring in place?
- Do you have excess code in the backend of your website slowing it down?
- Have you condensed your images for maximum page load speed?
Check your page loading speed on Google Insights.
- Do you know how stable your website really is?
- Does your website go down regularly?
- Do you have insight into when your website does go down and where?
- Do you have server monitoring in place?
- Do you have broken links or pages?
Other suggestions include upgrading your service host and heat-mapping your user experience to see if there are any further improvements you can make to your website. All of these things we’ve set out above will help to ensure that your website isn’t penalised by Google in their algorithm update and, in turn, your SEO rankings don’t drop. Be sure to get cracking now!