Google Ranking Factors in 2021

Google Ranking Factors in 2021

Google has new ranking factors in 2021. In this article, we will figure out which ones will gain more importance in 2021, and which ones will probably disappear.

Google has had some interesting search algorithm updates this year. Basically, the search engine focused on two aspects: how convenient it is for users to work on the site and whether you can trust the experts who write content on the site.

In this article, we’ll look at a new Page Experience factor – Page Usability Analysis, which includes Core Web Vitals, more EAT factors, and something important about accelerated AMP pages.

Oleg Barisevich, founder and director of marketing at SEO PowerSuite and Awario, predicted which Google ranking factors will influence the approach to optimization in 2021, and which are likely to fade into the shadows

The Importance of Core Web Vitals for SEO: LCP, FID and CLS Metrics

At the end of May, Google announced the Page Experience update, which is an analysis of the usability of a page for users. The update is scheduled to be released in 2021.

Page Experience includes mobile site usability, security of use, HTTPS, the ability to browse the site without intrusive pop-ups, and Core Web Vitals related to page load.

Core Web Vitals is a set of metrics that quantify how comfortable a user is with a page. The set includes measuring the loading time of content, its responsiveness to user actions and stability during loading.

There are three measurable indicators:

  • LCP – Largest Contentful Paint – loading speed of the largest single object on the page.
  • FID – First Input Delay – the response time of the page to the first user action after loading.
  • CLS – Cumulative Layout Shift – page shifts due to content loading.

How Core Web Vitals Affect Rankings

Much of what makes up a Page Experience update is a bunch of things that SEOs have known for a long time: use HTTPS, make mobile sites, monitor loading speed, and so on. But Core Web Vitals are slightly different and may change the SEO practices that the SEO has done.

The key factor is layout offset during the asynchronous loading of items. Asynchronous loading is configured to avoid a loss of speed when rendering the page. But this can lead to a layout shift as measured by the CLS. For example, the text has already been loaded and displayed, the user starts reading, when suddenly a loaded banner appears from above and shifts the text down. So it is easy for the user to miss the desired button or lose a line. 

Asynchronous loading can be configured using the decoding = async attribute in the img tag, and the layout offset can be avoided if there is enough space for the image or banner to be loaded asynchronously.

For example, on Wikipedia, most pages have a predefined space for images:

Google Ranking Factors in 2021
Empty space for a picture that will be loaded later

For an example of the correct code to load asynchronously with the decoding = async attribute, see our 

complete SEO guide for images.

In the past, layout shifts could only affect behavioral factors and increase bounce rates if they seriously interfere with viewing. But CLS has now been officially declared a ranking factor, so by 2021 it is best to optimize that metric and make sure each page is written with a predefined space for each image.

We are not saying that Core Web Vitals or Page Experience in general in 2021 will have a decisive impact on site rankings. There are a lot of ranking factors, some have a higher priority, some less. But since Google has aggregated the well-known metrics and announced them as a ranking factor, it’s worth tackling them.

If you are doing technical optimization yourself and working to improve loading at different stages, the new ranking signal may not affect your daily work. But if you’ve paid little attention to technical SEO before and tried to reach out through content or links, launching Core Web Vitals can change your site’s metrics.

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The Importance of EAT Factors for SEO

Experience, trust, expertise are what we should strive for in the professional field. Based on Google’s quality guidelines, this is important for SEO as well.

The search engine determines the purpose of the page. Sites or pages that spread hate, harm, mislead or deceive users should receive the lowest rating.

Google has identified the factors of EAT – expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness – expertise, authority and credibility . This means that for a search engine it is important:

  • content author experience;
  • the credibility of the content creator and the site where it is published;
  • reliability of the author, content and site.

All types of pages and sites can have a high EAT level, even for online gossip magazines, fashion and humor portals, and news sites. Hobby sites like photography or playing the guitar also require experience. Some of the information can only be found in discussion forums, where a community of experts provides valuable insights on specific topics.

EATs are especially important for sites in the YMYL – Your Money or Your Life – category related to health, finance and wellbeing of users. This is a fairly wide area, including medical, financial, legal, tax sites, and even portals dedicated to the repair and education of children. Such content should be written by experts in the topic and posted on reputable sources.

Medical guidelines should be prepared by individuals or organizations with appropriate medical experience or accreditation and should be regularly revised, revised and updated.

Highly EAT-rated news articles must be prepared with a journalistic professionalism: they must contain factually accurate content and be written to help users better understand the events. High EAT news sites usually have editorial policies and a fact-checking algorithm.

How EATs Affect Rankings-Google Ranking Factors in 2021

The Quality Guidelines have valuable insights into the Google ranking process, so it’s useful to learn how to navigate your site. However, search engine officials say EAT is not a ranking factor.

Expertise, authority and trust are abstract concepts. According to Google spokesman Danny Sullivan, EAT itself is not a ranking factor in the sense that EAT cannot be measured like download speed and get a number. But the search engine uses various signals as proxies to determine if the content complies with the EAT principles, many algorithms are aimed at identifying the components of the EAT.

Experience, credibility and reliability are difficult to interpret by search algorithms that only understand code. It seems that Google currently has no reliable way to convert these signals into rankings other than looking at the assessors’ scores before each algorithm update. There are two problems:

  1. It is not clear who exactly will define these signals, how to measure them, in accordance with what standard.
  2. The introduction of such factors creates a system in which small and new sites lose to large ones, because they simply do not have time to gain trust.

Solving these problems takes time and effort on the part of the search engine. So far, EAT is not a ranking factor, and we don’t know if it will be in the future.

Nevertheless, in practice, you can observe that sites from the YMYL category without experience and authority rank worse. For example, almost all the websites of medical clinics that promote themselves and are on the first page of the issue contain articles that have been verified or even written by a doctor.

EAT parameters shouldn’t be prioritized over traditional SEO tasks – link building and technical optimization. But they are useful in and of themselves, as they encourage you to create reliable and useful content and work to build trust in the site and the experts who publish on it.

The importance of AMP for SEO-Google Ranking Factors in 2021

AMP – Accelerated Mobile Pages – Developed by Google, a lightweight mobile page format that looks simpler and opens faster.

On the one hand, AMP has advantages in the form of accelerated loading – preliminary rendering and caching on search engine servers, as well as the ability to get into the top results in the “Top Stories” block or in the “Main News” runet.

On the other hand, AMP has been criticized for its simplistic design, awkward placement of ad units, difficulty displaying the site’s URL, and privacy concerns.

Google Ranking Factors in 2021-How AMP affects rankings

According to John Mueller, AMP is not a ranking factor . 

Using this format can speed up the loading of pages for users with poor Internet, improve behavioral, again due to the speed of loading, but the mere fact of having AMP will not give any advantages.

Some webmasters were forced to use AMP to get into the Top Stories or Top Stories block on mobile devices. It attracts attention and traffic: it is at the top in the search results, takes up most of the screen, contains logos and pictures.

As part of the same Page Experience update, Google announced that starting in 2021, not only AMP, but also regular pages will be able to get into the Top Stories block. This is a pretty useful feature, especially for news sites that need to get attention and transition as quickly as possible.

And more recently, Google added stories to Google Discover, they will appear in the Google app for Android and iOS as a carousel of vertical posts with videos. There is no need to create AMP for them. While they are available in the US, India and Brazil, they will later appear in other countries and services besides Discover.

Which ranking factor will be more important in 2021

At the time of this posting, perhaps the most important ranking news for early 2021 is Core Web Vitals. However, search is a volatile field: what worked two weeks ago may not work today, and what works today may not work for all sites.

It is in the best interest of search engines not to reveal the full picture of the ranking factors so that SEOs do not abuse it. But they provide a lot of clues that help you understand what trends are currently relevant in SEO.

If your site is having traffic or rankings issues, it might not be a lack of EAT or layout shifts. Perhaps the site has technical problems or just a competitor changed the SEO and became stronger.

You can track project performance in the Site Analysis service  . He will check optimization, traffic, links, technical parameters and usability, find errors and give hints.

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