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SEO Highlights in April

April 2021

April was a good month for SEO. With deadlines extended and the 2020 Spam Report published, there’s been a lot of information to digest. For regular updates on the world of digital marketing and Uprise Up, you can sign up to our Newsletter.

Rollout of the Page Experience Update delayed to June.

No doubt many website owners breathed a sigh of relief when Google announced their decision to delay the rollout from May to mid-June. Time pressures have been eased as websites have longer to ensure their pages provide a good page experience. Search Console has also updated to include a new Page Experience Report, which makes it much simpler to see how your site currently performs and understand the areas you need to prioritise.

The rollout will now be a more gradual process, with Page Experience not expected to be a full ranking factor until the end of August. This change in tactic will make it harder to measure the impact of the update, as the ranking factors slowly merge with the search algorithm. This change does mean there won’t be any drastic changes to results, which for some sites should soften impact and give them a better chance of resolving any ongoing issues with their performance before the update has any serious detrimental effects.

 

What does the update include?

It’s been previously revealed that the Page Experience Update  will consider several signals for page experience, including the metrics included in Core Web Vitals (FID, CLS, LCP).

 

We can see Google is making a clear move away from favouring AMP, with the update set to bring regular non-AMP pages into the results more. AMP will no longer be required to feature in the Top Stories Carousel; once the update goes live all news content will be eligible for this feature. The AMP badge will also be removed from AMP results, removing that distinction. So, if you’re a site that relies on AMP I’d suggest really focusing on guaranteeing your non-AMP pages have similar load times on mobile, because from June onwards AMP is unlikely to provide you the value it once did.

 

Webspam Report 2020.

Another year, another Webspam Report was published! As expected, the presence of spam has only continued to grow over the past 12 months, from 25 billion pages being discovered daily in 2019 to 40 billion in 2020.

 

This growth includes increasing levels of hacked spam. Big or small, there’s no discrimination when it comes to being hacked. All sites are vulnerable. In fact, Google found that sites Search Consoles’ were being hacked, with the culprit posing as the Owner and using the ‘request indexing’ feature to get the spammy pages crawled and indexed. A good tool being misused. Whilst Google can take action against hackers, websites can also help through the practice of good security.

 

In the report more emphasis was placed on fighting spam ‘smarter’. As a part of this we can see the continued evolvement of AI, as Google developed a spam-fighting AI. They consider this to be a revolutionary update to their approach to spam and as a result, have reduced sites with auto-generated or scaped content appearing in the SERPs by more than 80% (compared to a few years ago). This advancement definitely highlights the clamping down on low quality content; spam or even content that fails to serve the needs of the user will not be shown.

 

Google has also been focusing their anti-spam efforts more on important topics, such as queries related to Coronavirus. Having spent most of last year in a global pandemic, it was pretty crucial that everyone had access to the right information. Whilst this meant ensuring spam wasn’t given the opportunity to distract and waste the time of users, it also meant curating the SERPs so only high quality up to date information was shown.

 

Though the figures don’t show any big surprises, the latest webspam report does give an indication of Google’s continued restrictions on content they deem low quality. Maintained, high quality content continues to be placed at the forefront of searches.

 

Content Case Study.

Towards the end of the month a case study was published that highlights the need to place users at the centre of any SEO strategy. Conducted by Sterling Sky, the case study examines the performance of a local injury law firm in Canada. They had not been ranking well for their target keywords and wanted some help boosting results.

 

The case study flagged that the issue lay in the strategy that had been implemented to date. The site had multiple templated pages, each targeting a different city and service. The content was difficult to access and very similar owing to the template approach. It’s clear this content was built with a focus on ranking, but not on being useful to those that landed on it. By creating content for search engines rather than users, the content didn’t meet expectations.

 

I found this article to be valuable in its takeaways, one being that publishing lots of content can be a bad thing. Quality will always override quantity, websites need to ensure that the content they publish serves a purpose outside ranking in the search results. If the user experience is poor and leaves visitors unfulfilled, then it provides no value to your site.

 

The case study also highlights the need to measure your strategy continuously. Just because you’ve agreed and begun implementation of a strategy, doesn’t mean the strategy is done. No strategy is finite. Measuring and adapting a plan is vital to ensure you stay on track and meet your established objectives.  By testing different tactics you can start to understand what will work for your site. In the case of this example, removing the templated content and redirecting to other built out, informational pages on the site helped the client meet the ranking requirements and increase their levels of organic traffic. A simple, but effective solution.

 

Did we miss anything?

If there was anything else that happened in April that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseupSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

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