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June Search Updates Blog

June has been another busy month for search. We’ve compiled the biggest news and latest updates so you can keep up to date with the latest news in the world of SEO.

Cumulative Layout Shift to Become Ranking Factor in 2021

Google announced that Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) will become one of the main ranking factors in 2021 as they further emphasise the importance of good user experience to SEO. CLS is part of the Web Core Vitals, which was announced as the new search signals for 2021.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) is the unexpected shifting of web page elements while the page is loading, and it’s a Google metric that measures a user experience event. CSL issues creep in during development, due to assets rendering when the page loads. This means that already downloaded elements shouldn’t create CLS.

How Google Views CLS

Google wants websites to minimise CLS as it causes poor user experience. They measure it by how much the elements move and how much space an unstable element takes up in the viewport.

What Causes CLS?

Google states that there are 5 reasons why CLS occurs:

  1. Images without dimensions
  2. Ads, embeds and iframes without dimensions
  3. Dynamically injected content
  4. Web Fonts causing FOIT/FOUT
  5. Actions waiting for a network response before updating DOM

You can use Google’s Lighthouse feature to diagnose what is causing the CLS issues. However, there are measures you can take to completely avoid CLS in the first place.

Images – Images and videos need to have the dimensions declared in the HTML. For responsive images, different images sizes for the different viewports use the same aspect ratio.

Ads – You can deal with CLS in ads by styling the elements where the ads are going to show. You can set up alternative banners or placeholder images to show up if an ad element doesn’t show.

Web Fonts – Downloaded web fonts can cause FOIT and FOUT, which is a fallback font until the custom font loads. A way to prevent this is to use rel=”preload” in the link for downloading that web font.

Google Is Testing Showing Web Pages in YouTube Search Results

Marketers have noticed organic web page results for queries made on YouTube. The results are appearing as singular web results, breaking up the list of video results. Users can follow that link to the web page, or they can follow a link to the SERP for that search term.

A mobile screenshot showing web results on YouTube

Traffic being directed from YouTube to the results page presents a new opportunity to gain traffic for marketers. If video marketing is prominent in your industry, this opportunity could be further amplified. Google is just in the testing phase so don’t expect to see this for every search on YouTube.

John Mueller Confirms That Paid Guest Posts Are Unnatural

There was controversy in the world of SEO as SEMRush, one of the most popular SEO tool providers, announced a new service which offers guest posts. They get you links to help improve SEO performance. 

However, Google’s John Mueller commented on this saying that selling paid links is against its guidelines and that Google could take action against those who use this service.

SEMRush said in a statement that they “do not pay publishers for placed articles” and they’re “not selling links”. However, following the backlash and criticism, SEMRush decided to drop this service.

If you were using this service or something similar, you should check your Google Search Console for any manual actions. If you receive a manual action, you can request for reconsideration after removing the guest post or adding nofollow link attributes.

New Featured Snippet Update

Google released a new featured snippet update which takes the user directly to the text shown in the featured snippet. As long as Google can determine where the extract is, the user will be directed to the relevant part of the content.

Google also stated that no extra mark-up was required to be added for this to work. Google also highlights the relevant text and, interestingly, are adding parameters to the destination URL.

Screenshot Showing Example of Featured Snippet

Example of Featured Snippet Update

John Mueller Explains the Difference Between Low Popularity Pages & Low-Quality Pages

No one wants to have low-quality pages on their website, as this can lead to poor user experience and subsequently, a poor SEO performance. It’s good practice to noindex or remove low-quality pages to ensure that Google recognises you’re committed to providing quality content.

People often mistake a page which has low popularity as being of low quality. However, John Mueller stated that a page’s popularity isn’t the metric to use to judge the quality of a page.

How To Spot A Low-Quality Page

If the content is hard to read, written in broken English and is poorly structured, these are all indications to Google that the page is of low quality. It is also important to consider why you have low traffic and determine your actions based on that.

  • Is the content outdated? This represents a low-quality page and needs improvement.
  • Is the webpage thin? This suggests a low-quality page and will require more content.
  • Is the webpage on an unpopular topic? Despite having low traffic, this does not make it a low-quality page.

Google Allows For Additional Hours On Google My Business

Businesses can list different hours for specific services on their Google My Business profile. If the hours for some of your services are different from your normal working hours, new information can be added onto your GMB profile to showcase this for customers. This allows for better clarity between your business and your customers so that they are best informed.

Businesses can add additional hours for the following types of services:

  • Brunch
  • Delivery
  • Drive through
  • Happy hours
  • Kitchen
  • Pickup
  • Senior hours
  • Takeout

To add hours onto your GMB profile take the following steps:

  1. On your computer, sign in to Google My Business.
    1. If you have multiple locations, open the location you’d like to manage
  2. Click Info.
  3. Next to “More hours” click Edit.
  4. In the “More hours” box under “Add hours,” click on the type of hours that are applicable.
  5. Next to the day of the week you want to change, check the box and enter your hours.
  6. After you entered all hours, click Apply.

Additional Hours Example

The New Safari Update is Not Blocking Google Analytics

There was panic amongst marketers as a preview by Apple in their global announcement of their new Safari browser suggested that Google Analytics will be blocked. However, reports from several reputable developers who investigated this issue stated that Google Analytics will work exactly the same as it currently does.

Analytics developer Simo Ahava also stated that “Safari does not block resource loads. That’s not how Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) works. It’s more elegant than that.” Therefore, marketers do not have anything to worry about, as Google Analytics will still work as well as it currently does.

Google My Business Adds New Attributes

You can now add 4 new attributes to your GMB profile. Search analysts discovered the following 4 new attributes appearing on GMB profiles knowledge panels on listings:

  • Online Care
  • Online Appointment
  • Online Estimates
  • Online Classes

Adding the relevant attributes are important to build a strong GMB profile and for your listing to appear in the relevant search queries. Attributes are designed to highlight the important service offerings to customers and help those listings to stand out. This move clearly aims to give more prominence to those who can provide online services, especially during the Coronavirus pandemic.

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