To get market share you need to be aware of, and prepared for, upcoming Google changes so that you can rank higher. Today we talk about some of Google’s exciting upcoming changes.
What’s In This Episode?
- Google’s New WordPress Plugin! (3:30)
- ‘Web Stories’ Will Outrank ALL Search Results (6:34)
- The Google Algorithm Overhaul (13:50)
- It’s Impossible To Get It Perfect (16:08)
- The Core Web Vital Metrics (20:45)
Josh: Market share is the biggest thing with your marketing. You want to get as much market share as early as possible, and so that’s why you need to know what’s coming up, and most people when it comes to their website, when it comes to their SEO have no idea what is planned for Google and for search engines in the future. Today we are addressing this and chatting a little bit about Google’s future plans.
Welcome to Creative Juices the show where we help you feel personally confident about your online presence. I’m your host Josh and today I’m joined by Julz.
Julz: Gidday Josh!
Josh: How you doing Julz?
Julz: Yeah good mate. Another Friday.
Josh: Another Friday.
Josh: So you just got off a little bit of a frustrating tirade of everything that we’re going to be talking about today.
Julz: Yeah, down the rabbit hole. Down the rabbit hole I went.
Josh: So the biggest thing is, just to get us started here, most of us know that for a small business to thrive you need to get market share of course. You need to attract customers, you need to dominate the search engines. That’s one way to do it. And when it comes to your website, you want your website to show up in search engines as high as possible, because over 30 percent of all clicks go to the first result. And so with that in mind, it’s like okay, so you… we need to understand that to be able to rank high we need to be on the front foot. We need to be ahead of the game, we need to understand what Google is trying to do. But Google makes hundreds of changes a year. Every week they introduce new changes to their algorithm and occasionally they announce ranking factors, but only occasionally. There’s over 200 ranking factors for your website and you need to be on the front foot…
Josh: …of that.
Julz: Yeah, yeah! It’s like the number one… probably one of the major things that come across our desk is “I want to rank number one in Google”. It’s like as every other person does, and every other website does and um yes… it’s partly a topic for another day as well in terms of like content marketing and SEO technical. I know that we’ve done some in the past, but yes, Google has given us a little bit of a tidbit…
Julz: …a little bit of foresight. They don’t usually do this and I think you were mentioning before it had something to do with Covid??
Josh: Yeah. So Google’s announced a few new ranking factors that are going to be weighted quite heavily for SEO, and they weren’t implementing it this year, but because of Covid they decided to delay it and that’s beneficial for us, because we now have some time to implement what they’re going to implement, so that we can rank quicker. Because here’s the thing. If you want to… for the everyday person, for the everyday small business owner, the way that you outrank someone else is knowing things, either knowing things earlier and implementing it first, or implementing it better.
Julz: Yeah! Knowing how to do it better than the other…
Josh: And so one of… but before we get on to these core web vital metrics which they announced, I wanted to bring up one thing that’s quite exciting, because this here does affect search engines.
Julz: Yeah, yeah!
Josh: And most particularly, WordPress websites. Google has developed a WordPress plugin!
Julz: That’s quite significant we have to say! Like I came across this video this morning on the YouTube about this WordPress plugin from Google and so, of course it like immediately drew my attention because I was like “Hold on, you’ve got the biggest search engine, one of the largest companies in the world accommodating to one particular CMS, WordPress”. I mean, I don’t see them doing that with Squarespace or Wix or anything like that. So immediately it caught my eye because I was like they’re clearly thinking about the WordPress community. And so for those out there that don’t know, WordPress websites currently make up around about 32-33% of the entire world’s websites! I think looking at the other CMS’ Squarespace , Wix I think even like Joomla, some of the older ones, I think they each get a roughly about two maybe three percent of market share. So WordPress is absolutely dominating!
Julz: And it’s no wonder actually that Google would start to think about the community like this because it’s all about content, all about, you know, publishers and publishing and blogging and…
Josh: But this kind of endorsement is massive because this is Google saying “Hey we want to and we’re actively making sure that WordPress websites will rank better than other websites”.
Julz: Yeah. That’s a huge one. That’s a huge one!!
Julz: And I guess on that point, like if you… if you do have a different CRM other than WordPress, WordPress is what we call open source, so effectively you own that website. It’s yours. It’s…
Josh: You own all the content…
Julz: …you own all the content. Everything that you put on there you can transfer anywhere you want. You can take it with you, whether that’s through different hosting or whatever, but with the other ones, you don’t. You’re locked into their system. If you stop paying, your website is gone.
Josh: And they own all of your blogs, they own all of your content.
Julz: Even when we come to transferring websites away from those CMS’, it’s a really hard job because they restrict access to it and so it becomes a real labour intensive process. But in the long run, it’s worth it for the client to do that because they own it!
Josh: Absolutely! So the Google WordPress plugin, it’s called ‘Stories for WordPress’ and in the past, Google has, and even now, Google ranks these pages called AMP pages. So AMP pages are specifically designed for mobiles and it pretty much changes your website to be… it strips out all of the unnecessary code, strips out a whole load of unnecessary things so that it ranks first.
Now Google has a section on their search results called ‘Top Stories’ and it’s generally the ones that appear at the very top of all search engine results. And if you haven’t seen these, you will begin to see these more and more over the next year. And so one of the requirements to be able to rank in those top stories is that your website had to be an AMP website. We hate AMP websites!!
Julz: Because what it also does, if you didn’t know it adds a little URL at the end of your website as well. And so if you had on mywebsite.com/blog, it would add another /AMP, and so if you ever got rid of AMP which ironically is about to happen I think, with the way that Google is hitting, all of a sudden you’re removing a ton of URLs and you need to think about a serious redirection plan at that point too.
Julz: So I can’t stand AMP!!
Josh: Absolutely! But you had to… you had to have an AMP website to be able to rank in these top stories!
Julz: Yeah, yeah.
Josh: But Google’s starting to make those redundant, and they’re creating these web stories, and this plugin that they’ve developed for WordPress allows you to create these web stories to rank first.
So let’s say on mywebsite.com.au you install this WordPress plugin and then it opens up, it kind of looks similar to a Photoshop like window, and it’s all visual, it’s all about images. And so you put… you put an image on it, you design these images and then you put text on them, and then once you publish it, it appears on these Google top stories.
Julz: Yeah. So think of it like an Instagram story, or uh you know, Facebook story that kind of vertical format where you’re scrolling through or watching short snippets of different screens that last a couple of seconds, or 15 seconds each story or slide. Basically, Google is looking at the way that we’re consuming information through social media and applying that to websites.
Josh: Yeah, particularly…
Julz: …and search results.
Josh: Yeah, particularly like Instagram stories and Tik Tok. The official description that they’ve written is “Web stories provide content publishers with a mobile focused format for delivering news and information as visually rich, tap through stories”.
Josh: So just imagine this. You’ve created a blog. It’s… you’re a physio and you’re saying “Hey this is how to use a foam roller to fix back pain” or something like that, and then you create eight images, each with a quote on each. The first one could be how to… how to fix back pain using a foam roller. The next one will be… I don’t know… maybe “this is how… this is one exercise on how to do it” and then you go through and there’s these eight images, and then at the very end it’s like “Swipe up to access this blog”.
Julz: “Click here to book a Telehealth appointment” or… you know it’s endless. They’ve also said that you’ll be able to put the one link in it, at the end, it could be an affiliate link, it could be a call-to-action link.
I think… one thing I have been thinking about though, with this, it’s very exciting but I think that there’s going to be a bit more strategy involved in it than just like mindlessly putting up a dumb story.
Julz: Because I think that, like you know, we all get them, and less about a social media style update but thinking about how Google operates I reckon that even down to the… the title of the story, the text being used, I think it’s going to have to be keyword rich and SEO optimized. If it’s not then how are they going to be found? So…
Josh: Exactly! And the exciting thing is, is that these top stories will show up above every other search result…
Julz: …which is crazy!
Josh: And so everyone’s going to want to jump on it.
Josh: And if Google suddenly has 200 of these stories vying for attention, they’re going to have to rank them!
Julz: Yeah, yeah.
Josh: So I guess the exciting thing for this is that currently, it’s in beta mode.
Julz: I just had a thought! As well, like how far is this going to go? I mean at some point it could go I want my… it’s like paid stories. So you know, you do Google Ads right?
Josh: They’ve already announced that… that you can pay for stories in the future.
Julz: Yeah wow! Man! Monetization of stuff like this is just moving so fast!
Josh: And this is massive, because you need to know that this is… that the… that this is coming because they’re going to release this and then suddenly your website’s going to be outranked by these web stories!
Julz: Yeah, yeah, yeah!
Josh: And so being in the know beforehand, and understanding that if you are on a different CMS you… you won’t be able to create these…
Julz: Yeah, yeah!
Josh: …because they’re created through this WordPress plugin!
Josh: So that’s an exciting thing! So they’re taking these little Instagram stories and Tik Tok style things and ranking it… ranking it above everything else. And you’ll also be able to embed these visual stories in your blog and the scary thing is, is that you can also embed someone else’s web story into your blogs.
Julz: Which I also think is a good thing for content creators, because if they’ve got a story that’s ranking and that story gets embedded into another person’s website, if you’ve branded your story well then there’s no way that they can sort of plagiarize which unfortunately is rampant these days.
Josh: And they can’t change your call-to-action.
Julz: No! So if you had a link at the end of it that was pushing off to a ‘book online’ or an affiliate link that you make some money from, then you’re going to make the money from all of those other websites that your story is embedded on!
Josh: Yeah! Crazy! So that’s… that’s us kind of ‘nerding’ out about this, but the key point here is that Google is investing into WordPress.
Julz: Yeah, I love it!!
Josh: And they they’re investing into it, and they’re telling the WordPress community “Hey, this is coming to Google”. These web stories are going to be massive, and sure, they may flop but they may not! They may become the new thing just like they have been in Instagram. And so they’re currently going to outrank everyone else, so we need to be in the know!
Josh: And whether that means you swapping over your CMS to a… to WordPress… maybe you… maybe you need to think about it.
Julz: Maybe you need to bite the bullet and think about that! I mean, like it’s going to happen within the next six to 12 months for sure, so there’s plenty of time there. But they don’t generally give out like that kind of foresight like they have with the core web vitals. So yeah, now’s the time!
I mean Josh, tell us a little bit more about these core…
Josh: Yeah, you mentioned it. So core web vitals, unlike this WordPress plugin, core web vitals are going to affect absolutely everything.
Julz: No matter what website…
Josh: …whether you’re on Squarespace, whether you’re on WordPress or not.
Josh: It will affect absolutely everything. So these core web vitals is pretty much… Google is saying “Hey we are changing the way that our algorithm ranks websites”, and these ones are going to be massive, and they sit within a little category called page experience metrics. And if you think about that page experience, these aren’t technical things. These web vitals aren’t going to be talking about your H1s or even your copy.
Josh: What they are, the questions that they’re asking have everything to do with real world metrics, like how fast is it? How interactive is it? How stable is your website?
Julz: Even down to like colour contrast and things isn’t it?
Josh: Yeah. Absolutely!! And so core web vitals are going to become a criteria to appear in those Google top stories like I was saying, but they’re also going to affect your normal SERPs, so search engine results, and in fact, when Google announced these they put in a little statistic and they said “Users are 24% less likely to abandon page loads of sites that meet these metrics”. So when a page is loading, if the site meets those metrics, they’ve done all of this… all of this research to go if they meet these metrics, then users are 24% less likely to abandon those pages.
Julz: One in four people?
Josh: Yeah, which is massive!!
Josh: And so to kind of give you a little bit of an insight into what are these web vital metrics, like we mentioned at the start, we have about six months or so until Google actually implements these, but when they do implement them, it’s going to affect everything! So our approach right now, even though it’s in… even though it’s in early stages and things are still really confusing, we’re asking the question. How can we design sites now to utilize this?
Julz: Yeah, yeah! Ahead of the curve.
Josh: Absolutely! And the worst thing is, about all of this thing is to be honest, they haven’t got it 100% correct yet, which leads back to your little tirade that you had…
Julz: Oh yeah, that I just came off…
Josh: …against these.
Julz: Uh… I mean, yeah. So there’s a thing called page speed testing. And it’s a… it is a part of the core web vitals, and so when these sorts of changes come out I get a little bit obsessed about it because I’m like… I want to see who is actually meeting these criteria, say above even like 70%. I know that our current websites they load upwards of 90, 94, 96%.
Julz: …and so Google has this thing called ‘Lighthouse Testing’ and so I was like “Okay Google, I’m going to put you to the test on your own testing”.
Josh: Yeah, and based on these new web vitals…
Julz: …and based on these new web vitals. So I actually copied and ran a test of Google.com through Lighthouse…
Josh: …which is Google’s speed tester…
Julz: …which is Google speed tester and they scored 74% which is low! So…
Julz: …so they didn’t meet their own criteria, and even worse is that their maps scored even lower!!
Julz: And so I was like, okay, surely there’s got to be a website out there that is hitting the mark? And I tested Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola got 2%. 2% people!! If you, if you want to go and find out a weird loading website go check out anything! coca-cola.com or coca-cola.com.au and you’ll see some funny, funky things going on.
Josh: But one of the biggest… one of the biggest websites in the world, well companies in the world and they got two percent!
Julz: Two percent??
Josh: That’s terrible!! I mean they are a big enough brand…
Julz: But still!!
Josh: …to… like they’re going to rank anyway because they’re just such a big brand, but for… but still that’s just mind-blowing!
Julz: Even if Newcastle Creative Co built their website we would do better than that!
Josh: So if you’re from Coca-Cola please set us up….
Julz: But, so yeah.
Josh: So you tested other ones?
Julz: Yeah, I went down the rabbit hole. I did Twitter. I did Facebook. I did… um what else was there… I did PayPal. I just went through all these major companies that would have had massive digital budgets and what should appear to have like dedicated teams.
PayPal did okay, but for the rest of them it was like forty percent, sixty percent, like twenty percent, two percent and I was like “Google what’s going on? Like you can’t even like… it just doesn’t even work!” And then I did Squarespace, got 27%, Wix got like about the same 23%, and then went to WordPress. WordPress was the only one, wordpress.org was the only one that scored 94%. That beat Google, beat every other website and I was like what the?? It’s just my mind boggles! So I was like this seems to be this kind of unattainable goal because check this out right even if you had a WordPress website, but you embedded a Google Map on your page, just a simple Google Map, it will slow down your website’s page load speed in Google’s own web vital metric.
Josh: Yeah and that’s the same as analytics. Like if you have a Google Analytics code in there or a Google Tag Manager code…
Josh: …like we run these speed tests and then I said opportunities to get a better score remove Google Tag Manager or remove Google Analytics and it’s like this is your own… your own product!!
Julz: Yeah, yeah!
Josh: And so, just seeing that WordPress ranked higher than every other website builder, every other… like even Google themselves, it kind of shows us that they’re kind of leaning again, like we said, they’re kind of leaning towards WordPress sites.
Julz: So why not start with that? I mean… so this is the end point on that whole thing. You’re not likely to get it perfect.
Julz: I can’t stress that enough. It’s almost impossible to get the 100/100 score.
Julz: But in saying that, anything better than 74% which is Google’s, you’re doing better than Google!
Josh: Absolutely! So what are these web vital metrics that we need to know?
Number one is the largest content-full paint. So we’re getting a bit technical but what this means is that the largest thing in the viewport or on your screen, the largest thing whether it be the desktop page or a mobile page, the largest piece of content, whether it’s an image, video, text, how fast does that take to load?
Julz: Yeah. So think of a paint as in like layers of paint. So when Google crawls your website and tries to load your website it’s like painting different layers, and it’s coming up with okay, the first one is always pretty much a white screen. By the end of it, it should be a fully loaded what your website looks like on mobile.
Josh: Yeah. So the largest content for paint is the thing that takes up most of the… most of the page. So let’s say it’s doing those coats of paint. The first coat of paint is a white one, the second coat of paint is your title, the third coat of paint is your logo, and then the fourth coat of paint is your hero image or like a big landing page. That one is the largest content for paint.
Josh: So what you need to aim for is for that to load within four seconds. And you can test that on this speed test thing but as we said, it is very, very hard to meet those criteria.
Julz: …external resource which is totally out of our control.
Julz: In fact it’s in Google’s control, so back to you Google! Lift your game!
Josh: So number one was largest content-full paint. Number two is cumulative layout shift.
So think about this. Like the question that this is answering is how fast is the page stable, so when does it get to the point where the page is stable? So how many times have you been on a site or have you been on a site where the page loads and you’re like “Okay cool. I want to click on shop online” but as soon as you go to click on shop online, the page is still loading, and the button shifts down and then you end up clicking on the call button. And then you’re suddenly calling them instead of shopping online!
Julz: Yeah!! It happened to me the other day actually! There was a book online button that did it and I was like “Whoa what happened??” I ended up on like some other page.
Josh: It’s so frustrating! But that… that’s what cumulative layout shift is. It’s going how soon does the page load to the point where nothing’s moving?
Josh: Is the layout shifting? And the number one reason that things aren’t stable is that image sizes aren’t often… aren’t defined. So if you haven’t defined in your HTML that hey this image is 400 pixels wide and tall, then when it’s loading it won’t see that it’s defined for that, so when it actually loads, it’ll shift everything else away. The other thing that we see all the time are like animations or things like that…
Julz: Over design…
And then the third… the third web vital is first input delay. So the question that’s answering is how fast is the page interactive? Like, to put it another way, when a user clicks on something on your page, on a button or something, how fast can the browser start to process that and then produce a result?
Like if I click on… like if I land on a physio page and I want to go to the service which is sports physiotherapy, I click on sports physiotherapy. How quick does the site react and start to load that change?
Josh: …which has everything to do with server speed, as well as some other things that are a little bit more technical.
And so those are the key web vital metrics. Number one, largest content-full paint, number two, cumulative layout shift and number three first input delay, and all of that’s jargon for most people listening, unless you’re a web developer. But the key of all of these that Google is talking about is these are real world metrics.
Julz: They’re coming!!
Josh: What they’re… what they’re asking is about user experience.
Josh: That’s what all of this is about.
Julz: So give us some examples of uh some of our websites like I know that you ran a couple of tests on ours I think it scored pretty good on the old UX??
Josh: Yeah. So for our site in particular… so newcastlecreativeco.com.au, the performance wasn’t as high as we’d like.
Julz: Well… we’ve images and videos from Google…
Josh: Absolutely! But so largest content-full paint, we have something that we can improve, and we only just ran that around that today to be honest. But when it came to the cumulative layout shift in the first input delay, we ranked really high, in fact, in the 90s, and the reason being is because when we design our sites, we think “How does a user think?”
Josh: Like, we want to make sure that every single site is just designed for the user.
Josh: Like you can be so tempted to create something fancy, to implement all of these different animations but Google is soon going to de-rank all of those in favour of sites that care for the user.
Josh: They give the user a good user experience, which is pretty much can the user get to where they want to get to quickly and easily?
Josh: That’s really… that’s really the question you need to ask yourself when it comes to web vitals. It has everything to do with your site performance, which then affects your user experience.
Julz: Yeah, yeah!
Josh: If your site is loading super slow, a user will go back and they won’t wait for your site to load.
Julz: …which I know we bang on about all the time, because then that affects your conversion rate, and you know… and your conversion rate affects your bank account… directly! So all the stuff is as jargony as it sounds, it’s super important, and it is something to think about. I know that for a lot it might be too technical, so what should they do?
Josh: Well the biggest thing is that when it comes to this, to the core web vital metrics, Google does say again, “Users are 24% less likely to abandon page loads of sites that meet these metrics”. So, you need to meet these metrics whether you understand them or not. And so the question is, are you going to put in all of the work to learn what these metrics are, or are you going to find someone who actually knows what these metrics are? If you have a web developer who hasn’t given you the heads up of all of these things, who doesn’t talk to you about all of Google’s algorithm changes or at least implements and reports on those implementations, then perhaps you need to either reach out to them or question whether they’re the right person.
Julz: Yeah! And you know what one of our sort of values I suppose is to be honest and straight up, and so that’s why we say it is impossible to get that perfect score. So if you did get a report that came back with a hundred out of hundred, I’d be keen to see it, because I haven’t found one yet and I’ve tested some of the biggest, best websites in the world. So just be wary of that. You want somebody that’s going to be talking to you in honest terms, but it’s also going to be like you said, mindful of this stuff and implementing it too.
Josh: Absolutely! So to kind of finish up this episode, the key… the key learnings from this and the key points from this is that Google… it seems like they’re prioritizing WordPress. They’ve created the WordPress plugin, WordPress is ranking really high on Google speed tester, and they’re also implementing web stories, that’s the number two thing. Web stories are up and coming. They’re going to outrank every other search result and you need to be able to get on that, but the only way to get on to that is through the WordPress plugin at the moment. And then the third thing is that your web vital metrics… you need to ask the question how fast is my website and does it give my users a good experience? Does it lead them to where they need to get to quickly, or is it annoying?
So those are the main things that we wanted to kind of discuss and thank you so much for listening to this episode and we will we will speak to you next time.
Julz: No worries!