Showing up on Google’s Top Stories is a huge advantage for gaining exposure. When you show up in Top Stories, your articles gain more visibility than the standard search results. Formerly, you had to have Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) to even have the chance to show up on Top Stories. Since many saw the value in Top Stories and AMPs were a requirement, a lot of people embraced AMPs. However, there is a big change coming.
Google recently announced that they will start using Core Web Vitals as a factor in search rankings and Top Stories. The announcement also detailed that Google will lift the AMP requirement around the start of 2021. This announcement makes the future of AMP unclear. Will it be easier for developers to optimize the mobile experience without AMP or to continue using AMP versions of their pages?
AMP is Google’s open-source, HTML framework that developers can use to create faster-loading mobile web pages. You can use AMP to build websites, stories, ads, and emails in a straightforward way. The content you create with AMP “prioritizes the user experience above all else”. The top benefits of AMP include:
- Faster web page speed, which equates to better user experience.
- Apply AMP across numerous web touchpoints.
- SEO benefits (for now).
- Performance increase.
Downfalls of AMP
While AMP has some key benefits, it also has its fair share of downfalls. If AMP is not a requirement for Top Stories, will people just stop using it? Potentially. Here are some of AMP’s major cons, and the reasons people may abandon it.
- There are alternatives. Previously AMP was a requirement for Top Stories, however, it soon won’t be. Once AMP ceases to be a requirement, people may opt for alternatives. There are other solutions for optimizing user experience and site performance, and some businesses may have just been using AMPs to remain eligible for Top Stories.
- AMP doubles your site maintenance work. With AMPs, you must essentially maintain a second version of your site. This process is not only time consuming, but it is also expensive.
- It will no longer provide a competitive advantage. Formerly, you could not appear on Top Stories without AMP. When that changes, will it make sense to continue using it?
Testing the Waters
After the official update, people can “opt to prioritize page experience factors to get their content into the Top Stories section, instead of maintaining AMP versions of their pages.” Google’s new algorithm intends to rank web pages and Top Stories based on user experience from the signals of Core Web Vitals.
However, not all of Googe’s algorithm updates have had much of an impact before. While it would be a good thing to update rankings and Top Stories based on positive user experience, the actual impact is unclear. Before making any major changes to get rid of AMP, people should wait and see how the updates play out and how the competition fairs.
The big decision for publishers currently running on AMP will be the time they must majorly change their site. When it comes time for a redesign or CMS adjustment, then they should look closely at the costs of updating to AMP vs opting for another method to optimize the user experience.
After the update, publishers and site owners need to compare the Top Stories. Are the majority of Top Stories from AMP sites or non-AMP sites? Without strong evidence that non-AMP sites are ranking in Top Stories, it doesn’t make sense to drop AMP. Additionally, “the requirements for non-AMP pages to appear in the Top Stories section may turn out to be more stringent than maintaining AMP.” In that case, it would actually be easier to maintain AMP than to meet the incredibly strict requirements for non-AMP sites.
AMP: Should it Stay or Should it Go?
As of right now, the future of AMP is not too clear. There are some challenges associated with AMP that sit producers may be eager to get rid of once Google officially renounces it as a requirement for Top Stories. When it is no longer a requirement, site owners will be able to experiment with other methods for optimizing user-experience without creating a second version of their site. However, there may still be advantages to keeping AMP, especially if you are already using it.
Companies should not make the choice right now on whether or not to continue using AMP in the long-term. The first thing to do is to see the impact of Google’s Core Web Vitals update and how AMP fairs when it is not a requirement. It is important to monitor your competition closely, and assess if AMP is still fairing better than other options. Currently, it is not clear if AMP will have a future once it disappears as a requirement for Top Stories.
For a long time, search engine optimization has remained a mystery for companies. While experts understand current best practices and the important factors that contribute to SEO, much of the process has been left up to trial and error.
Recently, Google made an announcement that will change the course of SEO. Google announced that website experience will become a ranking factor in Google Search and Top Stories on mobile. They also released the Web Vitals initiative that gives website owners cohesive metrics for creating websites with user experience and performance as priorities. Google will not change any rankings in 2020 and will provide a six months’ notice before doing so.
Google’s Web Vitals
Google’s Web Vitals is meant to help website developers and owners “optimize for quality of user experience” by “quantifying the experience of your site and identify opportunities to improve”. Web Vitals offers quality signals that can help people improve the website experience of their website, and eventually improve their search ranking as well. Site owners do not need to be experts to understand their website’s user experience when they use Web Vitals.
Web Vitals offers Core Web Vitals, which “ represents a distinct facet of the user experience, is measurable in the field, and reflects the real-world experience of a critical user-centric outcome.” Google will adapt the metrics in Core Web Vitals over time to reflect the user experience. Right now, the vitals for 2020 are:
- Loading. Largest Contentful Pain should happen within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.
- Interactivity. The pages should have a First Input Delay of fewer than 100 milliseconds.
- Visual stability. The cumulative layout shift should be less than 0.1.
The Core web Vitals will be accessible to all people as one of Google’s tools as a Chrome extension.
How User Experience will Impact Search Ranking
Google compares web pages to journeys and realizes the importance of a visitor’s journey. Flaws in a website’s user experience make the journey difficult, cumbersome, and frustrating. Google wants to eliminate common interruptions and create a better user experience and overall satisfaction.
To promote a better experience for more users, Google will eventually consider Core Web Vitals and its existing search signals when determining search rank. Their overall goal is to provide a better web experience and garner higher engagement. Page experience will not be the only factor that determines rank, but Google will prioritize pages with “the best information overall, even if some aspects of page experience are subpar. A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content. However, in cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search.”
While the timeline for a change has not yet been set, Core Web Vitals will directly impact search ranking in the near future. To help owners improve their sites, Google updated its developer tools to reflect Core Web Vitals’ information.
The Importance of Web Hosting for Core Web Vitals
Moving forward, web hosting will be vital for websites looking to achieve optimal core web vitals. To ensure that you provide the best experience and meet all of the key metrics, you need the correct website hosting service. Qualities to look for in a website host include:
- Fast page loading, with the speed of a system’s response comparable to the delays humans experience.
- Stability to load multiple elements progressively. For example, elements that are already visible should not shift as others load.
- Responsiveness. Free of frictions during interactions with your website.
- Reliability, sites that stay up gain more visitors and earn a better user experience.
- Space and capabilities to accommodate your content needs as you grow.
- Bandwidth. You should have enough bandwidth to accommodate your visitors and be able to easily purchase additional bandwidth when you need it.
- Support. In the event that something doesn’t go quite right, you want adequate support to help you quickly resolve it.
- Security. You want your website information to be secure on your servers. This is critical or your visitors and you.
Prepare for Google’s Core Web Vitals
Core Web Vitals will not immediately impact your search ranking in Google, but that doesn’t mean that you should wait to take action. To prepare, you should start viewing your own Core Web Vitals and understanding the areas you need to improve in. According to the Search Engine Journal, the six ways you can measure your core web vitals include:
- Search Console
- Web Vitals Extension
- PageSpeed Insights
- Chrome DevTools
- Chrome UX Report
Stay ahead of the curve and prepare for the switch by beginning to measure and analyze your Core Web Vitals now. This way, you can anticipate and plan for any major changes you may need to make, including your web host.
COVID-19 shook the entire planet this year. Businesses in all industries have been deeply affected, but the apparel industry is one that has been hit the hardest. Since the pandemic, physical retailers have shut down, and billions of dollars worth of clothing orders have been canceled.
According to the “Impact of COVID-19 Scenario on European and the US Apparel Market” released by Wazir Advisors, apparel consumption in Europe and the US is likely to be 40-45% lower than the 2020 projected consumptions.
As businesses begin to slowly reopen, one thing is clear: the apparel industry will show lasting changes due to COVID-19.
- Will retailers survive?
- What does the future of the apparel industry look like?
- Will retailers convert more marketing efforts online vs traditional?
In this post, we explore what will happen to apparel stores following COVID-19.
Converting to eCommerce
Brick-and-mortar stores suffered as a result of the COVID pandemic. Those who relied on digital selling have faired better. While apparel spending is down by 50%, an online strategy is paramount for any apparel stores looking to rebound after the pandemic. Our client Cut The Shirt decided to shift to all online sales during the pandemic and sales are doing very well regardless of the industry being down. Pivoting your eCommerce digital marketing will be more important than ever,
Even after stores reopen, consumers will be hesitant to enter physical stores and touch clothing in-person. While a digital strategy and eCommerce SEO is not a guarantee for success, brands that sell online will lose less revenue. Prior to the pandemic, the transformation to online retail was already underway. While many apparel retailers were already in the process of creating a digital experience, the pandemic serves as a catalyst to quickly digitize sales to online channels.
Fewer Small Businesses Surviving Post Pandemic
Small apparel retailers face the biggest risk of closing following the pandemic. Small businesses do not have the same resources and reserves as many larger corporations and are failing to survive the effects of COVID-19. As a result of the pandemic, over 100,000 small businesses have closed for good, and many more face corporate mergings post-pandemic.
Small businesses are essential for the economy and provide competition against large corporations, but small apparel companies are facing difficulties similar to those from the 2008 financial crisis. During the pandemic, shoppers were sticking to essentials and turning more to online retail than in-person stores. Smaller boutiques and retailers struggled to get local support and may not survive post-pandemic
There is no doubt that COVID-19 will leave a lasting mark on the apparel industry. Few small businesses will survive the economic downturn from the pandemic and many apparel businesses will shift harder to online sales for direct-to-consumer relationships. The future of apparel stores is not clear, but we can expect a few major changes.
The Future of Search Ranking is Near
Recently, Google announced that it was going to be implementing a new change on search ranking. Called Core Web Vitals, these new criteria push website developers to ensure that their websites create a friendly experience for users. Although Google doesn’t intend to implement the changes until 2021 at the earliest, it’s important that web developers take note of the changes that they’re going to need to make soon. Here are some aspects that you should know about Core Web Vitals.
What Makes a Great Page Experience?
More than anything, Google wants its users to have a great page experience. This means, for web developers, that they need to cut down on loading times. A user’s experience can become poor quickly if they have to wait around for a page to load. Fine-tuning the load speed on certain pages–and the website as a whole can improve the site’s ranking on Google.
Another aspect that gives a website a great page experience is its mobile friendliness. Google has taken a lot of interest in the mobile experience users have when browsing the internet on their phones. It promotes businesses that create mobile-friendly sites. This is a trend that will continue with the Core Web Vitals update.
One important part of a great page experience is safety. With hacking becoming more frequent, users want to know that the information they put into a website is safe. Businesses and websites need to have protection. This includes implementing HTTPS, which is far safer than the mere HTTP.
Finally, Core Web Vitals also measures how interactive a web page is and how well that interactivity functions. For example, a website that causes a page shift to occur and messes up what the user was attempting to do will rank poorly on Google. An example of this might be if a user was attempting to cancel an order, but the page shifts and they suddenly click on a submit order button instead.
This is poor user experience. The website would receive a poor ranking in return.
Web developers have some time to fine-tune their designs and ensure that each aspect of their website pushes for better user experience.
Preparing for Core Web Vitals Update
Google told us it can be 6+ months before this update rolls out. For all of our current clients at SEO Locale we’re fixing all of the issues that Core Web Vitals update may look for. We’re being pro-active in the SEO industry because we’ve seen in the past how a ranking factor that may only have 5% weight to it can make an impact on traffic and rankings.
Start Your Coding Engines
Although developers have until 2021 to start showcasing their new websites, it’s important to get a head start. Contact SEO Locale for help. We offer a free digital marketing analysis for anyone interested.