SEO Market Updates: May 2020

Join Fusion’s SEO technical team as we round up last month’s major industry updates.

Google rolls out May 2020 Core Algorithm Update

Google confirmed via a Twitter post that an update of the core algorithm has been implemented and was rolled out from May 4th.

Google confirms the latest update on Twitter

It has also been announced that it will take from one to two weeks to affect search results, which means that by the time you are reading this post it should be fully rolled out.

This is the second update to the core algorythm announced just this year, which tells us Google is not planning to pause updates during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

No specific guidance relating to the update has been issued, in order to improve sites which might have been adversely affected. Google have pointed webmasters to their Content and Quality Questions list, which they suggest you should use when creating site content.

Core Web Vitals to become a ranking signal

Google announced that, towards the end of May, a range of new metrics will become signals taken into account when rankings sites in the search results.

The three new metrics which combined are the new Core Web Virals

These metrics are to become parts of a larger group of Page Experience signals, which will include Core Web Viral, as well as:

  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Safe browsing
  • Client-server connection security
  • Compliance with interstitial guidelines

We recently published a more detailed blog post around this, specifically focused on Core Web Virals.

WordPress to include better XML Sitemap geration and submission

WordPress, which now powers around 35% of the web (including this site), is likely to include native sitemap support in version 5.5.

The update comes as an engineer working for WordPress and Google commented on the progress of the development of a core plugin.

The announcement of the possible integration into the WordPress core

On the other hand, the proposal only focuses on the XML Sitemap minimum requirements which would cover most WordPress content types, and are not planned to include extended features such as:

  • Image, Video, and News sitemaps
  • UI-controls which would allow for post exclusion from the sitemap
  • Sitemap caching mechanisms

Google My Business listings can link to Gift Cards and Donation pages

The local business listings offered by Google can now be, in many cases, enhanced by the addition of new features, which now allows people to offer support in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. These links became available in the search results towards the end of May.

The new feature as available on mobile devices

It has been announced that a “subset of businesses” in English-speaking countries will be eligible for these new features, possibly in an attempt to roll this out gradually and prevent congestion. These businesses must have been verified prior to March 1st, 2020 and also have a physical storefront.

Third party gift card offerings are also to be made available via a number partners including Square, Toast, Clover, and Vagaro; and donation pages can be hosted by PayPal or GoFundMe.

Google has also shared some tips on how to take advantage of these features in the best way, including crafting a personal message, which is brief, possitive, and specific.

Google Podcast Manager launches to aid podcasters a better way to understand metrics

Google has a long and somewhat complicated history with podcasting. Over 7 years ago, Google Listen was launched as an Android application that let you search, subscribe, download, and stream podcasts and web audio. It was about 3 years old before it was retired.

Similarly, Google Reader, a RSS/Atom feed aggregator, which could be used for podcast feed, was retired at a similar time.

The retired application and service was then later replaced by Google Podcasts in 2018.

Google Podcast widget on Desktop, among the search results

With the growth of the podcasting market and an appetite for this type of media consumption, Google has launched a tool that is useful for podcast publishers to help them gain insight into their audience and even grow it. This is most likely to be linked to metrics gathered via Google Podcasts, similarly to YouTube Insights.

Some of the presented features included audience retention metrics and device breakdown.

Check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with us today.


Google Announces New Page Experience Signal

On Thursday Google announced the addition of a set of new user experience metrics to its growing list of ranking factors.

The additions – which Google is referring to as “Page Experience” metrics – will be designed to evaluate how users perceive browsing, loading and interacting with specific webpages, and incorporate criteria measuring:

  • Page load times
  • Mobile friendliness
  • Incorporation of HTTPS
  • The presence of intrusive ads or interstitials
  • Intrusive moving of page content or page layout

Webmasters should already be familiar with many of these factors, with recent years seeing Google driving home the importance of mobile friendliness, page speed, HTTPS adherence and avoidance of intrusive interstitials.

However, the new Page Experience signal also includes areas from the new “Core Web Vitals” report, recently incorporated into Google’s PageSpeed Insights and Search Console tools.

What are Core Web Vitals?

Core Web Vitals are a trio of metrics designed to evaluate a user’s experience of loading, interaction, and page stability when visiting a web page:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This measures the perceived loading performance of a page, or the time passed before main page content is visible to users. An LCP time of 2.5 seconds viewed as good, with higher in need of improvement.
  • First Input Delay (FID): Measuring interactivity / load responsiveness, or the time it takes for a user to be able to usefully interact with content on the page. An FID of less than 100ms is optimal, with higher scores in need of improvement.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): Measuring visual stability, or whether the layout of a page moves or changes while a user is trying to interact. Pages should aim for a CLS of less than 0.1 in order to provide a good user experience.

Largest Contentful Paint and First Input Delay will already be recognisable to most webmasters, with Google’s PageSpeed and Lighthouse tools already providing information on these metrics.

However, Cumulative Layout Shift appears to be new, with Google’s John Mueller stating that the CLS metric has been created to gage levels of user “annoyance”. CLS looks at the familiar experience of content shifting as a page loads, which Google illustrate with the below GIF:

What does this change?

Whilst most of the individual metrics within Page Experience are pre-existing ranking factors, the new announcement places them together as one part of an overarching signal:

Google state that they are aiming to provide a more “holistic picture of the quality of a user’s experience on a web page”, by grouping previously separate factors together.

Each factor will be weighted uniquely, although as Google have declined to comment on how this weight will be distributed, it will likely be up to webmasters to determine the importance of each.

The new signal is also set to bring changes to how mobile top stories are determined, with the adoption of AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) no longer a prerequisite for inclusion within this section.

In future, top stories will be based on an evaluation of Page Experience factors, with non-AMP pages able to appear alongside AMP pages.

When will Page Experience roll out?

Google state that changes around Page Experience “will not happen before next year”, and promise to give at least 6 months’ notice before any roll out takes place.

This gives webmasters plenty of time to get ready for the changes, with preparation hopefully made easier through the early incorporation of P.E into tools like Google Search Console, Lighthouse, and PageSpeed insights.

Check out our recent blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for you, get in touch with us today.