Published July 7, 2021
Google’s June Core Algorithm Update Is Live
Google announced their June 2021 core update on June 2nd, and like most core algo updates, the search engine did not provide specific details about what this update was focused on.
However, unlike many previous announcements, they did say that this was only the first part – the second part of this algorithm update will be released in July. It’s also important to note that this update is not the page experience update that Google had previously announced would begin in June (although this update has also started).
Danny Sullivan, Google’s Search Liaison, confirmed that the June update completed its roll out on June 12th.
The fact that this is a two-part update is important to keep in mind. Google said on Twitter that some sites may see positive or negative changes in June that are reversed in July.
ROI is keeping a close eye on performance for all of our SEO clients, but we are hesitant to recommend major changes (aside from following SEO best practices) until the second part of the update is released. As with all Google core algorithm updates, following best practices and the search engine’s recommendations are the best way to weather any volatility.
The Google Page Experience Update Is Rolling Out
To muddy the waters of the June core algo update a little bit more, Google also began rolling out the Page Experience update on June 15th. This update is focused on Core Web Vitals (CWV), mobile friendliness, safe browsing, using HTTPS, and intrusive interstitials.
As part of this update, Google has also added non-AMP pages to the Google News app and removed the AMP badge icon from results. The Page Experience update is a slow roll out and is not expected to be complete until August.
Core Web Vitals Update
As mentioned above, Core Web Vitals are an important part of the Page Experience update. We’ve discussed CWV in our SEO news recaps before, but if you need a quick reminder, Core Web Vitals are three metrics – Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, and Cumulative Layout Shift – that represent one facet of user experience.
In the weeks leading up to the Page Experience update, we saw several notable pieces of news about CWV:
- While the Page Experience update is focused on mobile, it will eventually come to desktop.
- The benefit of improving your CWV is not binary – it’s not just good or bad. Any improvement can have a benefit, even if you haven’t reached the “good” threshold.
- Related to this, you can see a ranking benefit even if not all your CWVs have “good” scores.
- Once you reach the “good” threshold, continued improvements are not going to benefit your site.
- CWV metrics and signals can be passed to a new page with a redirect, at least until Google has a chance to collect data on the new page.
Speaking of Page Speed…
On June 10th, Google updated the PageSpeed Insights API and UI to include field data for all pages, even if some metrics have insufficient data. Previously, field data was only provided for pages that had enough data for all metrics.
Learn more and get the release notes at the Google Developer’s Blog.
Google on How Algo Updates Work
Along with the June algo update, Google’s Danny Sullivan published a blog article titled “How we update Search to improve your results.” You can read the full article on Google’s Keyword Blog, but here are a few highlights:
- Updates are important to decrease irrelevant results and help more sites be found.
- Dozens of updates may be made in any given week; usually, Google only announces updates if there is “actionable information” that can be applied.
- Core updates are announced because they often result in more noticeable changes to search; they are not targeted to any specific site.
- Core updates are designed to improve search relevance.
- While Google does provide best practices and guidance for how sites can be successful, following these recommendations is not a guarantee that you’ll rank well – ultimately, it’s about Google trying to provide the most helpful information first.
Shopping and Merchant Center Updates
Want to learn more about building your brand on Google? The search engine introduced several new tools in late May with the goal of helping companies, “tell your unique brand story, from the point of discovery to checkout.” These tools include the ability to “curate” videos, rich imagery, and interactive story formats; new identify attributes; augmented reality tools for makeup and clothing; merchant loyalty programs; and more promotional tools. Google has also announced the ability to integrate with multiple ecommerce platforms and retailers, including Shopify, WooCommerce, GoDaddy, and Square.
Read the full update on Google’s Keyword Blog.
Google has also updated its editorial and professional standards policies for Google Shopping and Google Merchant Center. With the new update, sites that do not meet Google’s standards can have their accounts suspended. You can find the editorial and professional requirements on the Google Merchant Center Help page.
Connecting Keywords and Content
While keywords have long been a central element of SEO, how they are used has changed a great deal in the past few years. In addition, stories on the “death of the keyword” seem to make the rounds regularly. Google’s John Mueller answered a question about keyword targeting in a recent SEO Office Hours video; here are a few highlights from his answer:
1. Use the keywords that you want to rank for in your copy.
2. Don’t focus too much on the number of uses or how many synonyms you can add in.
Google is getting much better at connecting ideas and understanding what a page is about, but you can help by using the actual words on the page. On the ROI SEO team, we always recommend writing in a clear, natural way. By doing so, you will almost always add relevant keywords and related terms where they feel logical within the text.
Read more at Search Engine Journal.
Publishing an Article Without a Date Won’t Help Your SEO
John Mueller responded to a comment on Twitter asking if removing or changing a date on a blog post was better for SEO by reminding the individual that Google can tell when an article was published.
“Even when you publish something without a date, Google still keeps time,” John tweeted. “Yes, we have clocks.”
Changing or removing dates on posts is an old SEO practice based on the idea that Google prefers fresh content. But using an inaccurate date or removing the date completely can cause frustration for your readers, which isn’t good for business.
Read the exchange at Search Engine Roundtable.
No Limit on the Number of Pages Google Will Index, But …
Google has said before that there is no limit to the number of pages that it can index, and John Mueller reiterated this in a recent #AskGooglebot video. But he followed up by saying that they do try to focus their resources where they make the most sense. In other words, if you have a great website with a ton of valuable pages, Google will be happy to index them all. However, if your pages aren’t seen as worthwhile, they may not be indexed – not due to any limits, but due to their perceived value to Google.
Read more – and watch the video – on Search Engine Roundtable.
Google Tips to Prevent Abuse by Spammers
In late May, Google released a blog post including tips for preventing spammers from abusing parts of your site. With so many services available that allow users to interact with your site, it’s possible for spammers to take advantage – which could lead to a Google manual penalty. You can read the full post for a full explanation of ways to help prevent this problem, but here are a few of the recommendations:
- Use verification tools (like CAPTCHAs) to block automated account creation.
- Moderate comments and don’t allow anonymous posting.
- Register your site with Search Console and use this tool to monitor for issues.
- Regularly check if your site is ranking for spammy keywords.
- Monitor your web server logs for unexpected changes.
- Add rel=”ugc” or rel=”nofollow” to user-generated content links.
- Keep your website software updated.
Read more on preventing portions of your site from being abused by spam on the Google Search Central Blog.
Google Now Supports New Video Schema Markups
Announced at Google I/O in May, Google now supports two new schema markups for video: Clip and Seek.
Clip markup allows you to provide information on different segments in the video, allowing those clips to show in search results. Seek markup uses machine learning to automatically determine segments. These schema markups are still in a pilot, but they are expected to be more generally available soon.