Archive for April 5th, 2022

Google’s New Algorithm Putting the Spotlight on Page Experience

Google’s New Algorithm Putting the Spotlight on Page Experience

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Google’s at it again. It’s making more changes to the algorithm. It’s estimated that the search engine makes around 500-600 algorithm changes every year – but some are more significant than others. And this is one of them.

In 2021, we reported on how Google made Core Web Vitals a major ranking factor. The same year, they announced the roll-out of their Mobile Page Experience update. In March 2022, a page experience rollout to desktop search results was completed.

Dig into what’s happening and what it means for SEO with Abstract.

What’s happening with the algorithm?

The roll-out took 9 days to complete, finishing up on March 3rd 2022.

We’re now getting access to the desktop version of the Google Page Experience update. The new update will use the same ranking factors (aside from mobile-friendliness) as the mobile page experience update in 2021.

The desktop update will take into account:

  • Core Web Vitals:
    • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
    • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
    • First Input Delay (FID)
  • HTTPS Security
  • Absence of intrusive interstitials (intrusive ads)

So, if your website doesn’t meet some of the above criteria, you won’t notice a ranking boost on desktop following the algorithm change. Plus, if your competitors do meet the new criteria, they could overtake you in search results.

Aside from that, we don’t expect this to have a massive impact on rankings. Google itself has said:

“...while this update is designed to highlight pages that offer great user experiences, page experience remains one of many factors our systems take into account. Given this, sites generally should not expect drastic changes. In addition, because we’re doing this as a gradual rollout, we will be able to monitor for any unexpected or unintended issues."

However – before you skip away feeling satisfied that this won’t affect you, do keep in mind that Google makes algo changes to reflect user demands. In other words, your website’s security, presence of intrusive pop-ups and core web vitals (speed, responsiveness and visual stability) all impact bounce rate. And that does matter to SEO. (Sort of).

How do bounce rates affect SEO?

Google wants to be sure users are satisfied when they land on a web page – are they engaging with said page or are they exiting without visiting any other pages (bouncing)?

Now, Google has repeatedly told us not to worry about bounce rate for SEO purposes. But here’s our take on it. If your site has a high bounce rate, this could signal other inefficiencies, such as a slow load speed, poor design, bad content or confusing navigation. It could also mean you’re targeting the wrong keywords and sending low-quality traffic to your website.

So, while bounce rate alone doesn’t directly affect your ranking, it’s worth chatting to an SEO consultant to uncover why your visitors aren’t sticking around.

Here’s how you can improve page experience

The page experience algorithm update is in place to encourage website owners to optimise for the factors that make the web more enjoyable to use. The idea is that your users can interact with your site with less friction, for a better online experience and therefore, more digital success for businesses.

To put it simply: Google wants the sites users love most to rank at the top.

To reach those top spots, consider the key desktop page experience signals and use them to your advantage.

1. Check your web vitals

Let’s touch on each CWV briefly.

• Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – how quickly does the largest content element load? Ideally, this should sit at 2.5 seconds or less.

• First Input Delay (FID) – how quickly does your web page become interactive? Aim for less than 100ms.

• Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – does your visual content unexpectedly shift around the page? Visual stability is the aim here.

•Don’t forget to make use of other Google tools like PageSpeed Insights, Lighthouse and Chrome DevTools as well as Search Console for an in-depth analysis of core web vitals.

2. Have HTTPS security in place

Your domain should have HTTPS – not HTTP – in front of it. This signals a good level of security to Google, as does a padlock symbol in the search bar. Google doesn’t want to rank websites that aren’t secure, especially as users are increasingly aware of privacy and data security when they surf the web.

Enabling HTTPS is pretty straightforward. Here’s a guide from GoDaddy to help.

3. Get rid of intrusive interstitials

“Intrusive interstitials” translated into non-digital speak just means content that disrupts the stuff your user was expecting. For example, they come along to read a blog but are bombarded with popups and banners that make it difficult to read that blog at all, unless they click off everything else.

We’ve all experienced it – it’s intrusive and it’s annoying, right? If you are using popups, consider how they fit into your page’s design and make sure they’re not blocking users from engaging seamlessly with your content.

Want to keep the search engines on your side?

That was a rhetorical question.

Every online business wants to keep the search engines on side.

Our SEO services include not only an in-depth analysis of your current search performance, but they also involve consistent improvements to your online presence and a guarantee that we’ll stay on top of algorithm changes and best practices.

Contact Abstract Digital
Today for a free consultation where we talk all things business growth.

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Google Analytics As We Know it is Coming to an End

Google Analytics As We Know it is Coming to an End

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You may have only just gotten used to the changes to 3rd party cookies last year, but as a business owner in our digital world, you already know you don’t get much time to relax before another big transformation sweeps through.

This time, Google has announced it’s moving on from Universal Analytics to let Google Analytics 4 become standard in our website analyses. That means as of July 1st 2023, all standard Universal Analytics properties (websites, apps, blogs, etc.) will stop processing new hits. And by October 1st 2023, all 360 Universal Analytics properties will stop – and that’ll be the end of Universal Analytics (UA).

Does that mean it’s time to panic? Absolutely not! Because Google has something else up its sleeve – Google Analytics 4 – and the transition can be seamless, as long as you’re ready for it.

Why is Google saying goodbye to Universal Analytics?

Universal Analytics, the standard of Google Analytics we all know and tolerate (“know and love” felt like a stretch) is being deprecated in 2023. That’s mostly because many marketers, and Google itself, have picked up on its poor performance in delivering cross-platform insights.

Russell Ketchum, product manager at Google, explained their primary reason for the switch as:

“Universal Analytics was built for a generation of online measurement that was anchored in the desktop web, independent sessions and more easily observable data from cookies. This measurement methodology is quickly becoming obsolete.”

In other words, Universal Analytics relies on cookies and stores IP addresses (which is no longer ideal for privacy regulations). It also doesn’t operate across multiple platforms, so businesses are missing out on a comprehensive analysis of their marketing across the board.

Why is Google saying goodbye to Universal Analytics?

The sunsetting of Universal Analytics is designed to benefit business owners and marketers as a whole. 

Effectively, Google is making the change to keep up-to-date with how people interact online. It’s bringing improved user privacy and a better way to collect and measure insights across multiple websites and apps – because marketing doesn’t work in a silo. With paths to conversion more complex and more multi-screen than ever, the importance of connecting platforms to build a full picture of the customer journey is major.

So yes – the move to GA4 gets the thumbs-up from us.

Unsure if your Google Analytics property is affected by the change? If you created it before October 14th 2020, you’re probably using Universal Analytics and will notice a change. If you created your property after this date, you’re probably already using GA4 and you don’t need to do anything. 

If you’re still unsure, see how to check your property type.

Why is Google saying goodbye to Universal Analytics?

Here’s what Google had to say about its sunsetting of UA in favour of Google Analytics 4:

“...businesses need to navigate new challenges to understand the complex, multi-platform journeys of their customers — all while prioritising user privacy….Without a modern measurement solution, you leave essential insights on the table that can impact your business. So now is the time to make Google Analytics 4 your cross-platform Analytics solution.”

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits GA4 can offer.

1. Provide insights across multiple touchpoints

Cross-platform reporting is the biggie here. Google is aiming to simplify the typically complex process of tracking both web and mobile behaviour, and integrating mobile app analytics to move away from fragmented reporting which just causes more headaches.

GA4 will provide a complete view of the customer lifecycle, so marketers can analyse data that isn’t broken up by platform or independent sessions.

2. More accurate data-driven attribution reporting

Universal Analytics is only able to attribute sales to the last click, disregarding the multiple touchpoints and platforms that may have contributed to each sale.

Google Analytics 4 can assign attribution to provide an accurate overview of different marketing activities and the part they play in a conversion.

3. An increase in automation for more valuable data

Automation in UA is limited. In GA4, however, machine learning is amped up to improve and simplify insight discovery. This technology will change the game, generating predictive insights about your users for a deeper understanding of behaviour and conversions.

The latest version will also be able to create new audiences to help you organise your strategy, and automatically showcase critical insights.

4. Designed for data privacy

Google Analytics 4 is built to meet your data privacy obligations. It collects the data it needs without storing IP addresses or using cookies.

Running an enterprise? You can customise the software to meet your data needs, through the new Analytics 360 services.

5. Easy implementation for new users

First-time users often find implementing Google Analytics a challenge. GA4 is designed to take the burden away, with a setup assistant that walks new users through every step of the process.

First-time users often find implementing Google Analytics a challenge. GA4 is designed to take the burden away, with a setup assistant that walks new users through every step of the process.

How to prepare for the change-over

The end of UA is fast approaching, so any marketers that want year-on-year data in Google Analytics 4 will have to make the transfer soon. Google is taking steps to make the switch-over as seamless as possible, storing data in UA for at least six months after the tool is deprecated.

After this date, we’re not sure whether the historical data of advertisers that use the platform will be available.

And while the roll-out of GA4 is a step in the right direction to make marketers’ lives easier, it’s not backwards compatible and so you will need to roll out the new implementation manually.

Luckily, you can use the Google Analytics 4 Property Setup Assistant to get moving.

The Assistant will automatically create your GA4 property, using basic settings from your UA site. You can manually configure settings as you go along (such as conversions and audiences) to start benefitting from the deep analysis on offer.

We recommend setting some time aside to get used to the updated software, to make the most of a more complete view of your data. Getting the hang of GA4 might take a bit of time, as you’ll have to navigate new metrics and different reports.

Count on Abstract Digital for a website performance boost

We’re performance marketers and data nerds at heart. We work with businesses to create a full-scale strategy to help you digitally grow, through smart tools and an unbeaten knowledge of the landscape.

Ask us to analyse your marketing data to make some recommendations that would see your business take off in 2022 and beyond.

Get in touch for a free strategy session

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