SEO in 2021 - 3 Key Google Algorithm Updates

Dominic Bryce
29th Dec 21 . Dominic Bryce . SEO, News

It's essential that your SEO strategy stays up-to-date with the latest Google algorithm updates. So to make your life easier, we've summarised some of the biggest 2021 Google Algorithm Updates that shook the digital marketing industry.

As of November 2021, StatCounter reported that Google has a 93% share of the UK search market, although this drops down to 84% on desktop, where Bing and Microsoft Edge usage increases significantly. UK SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is focused mainly on Google because of this majority; so when Google makes a change, SEOs across the UK have to respond to stay on top!

2021 in SEO was a year with a lot of changes to Google's search results. Here are three of the most notable Google Algorithm Updates that happened during 2021 and how we helped our clients stay on top.

A quick summary of the Google algorithm updates:

  1. Page Experience Update, focusing on new user experience and load speed signals-  25th June, 2021
  2. Page Title Rewrites Update, Google changed page titles on 20% of pages - 16th August, 2021
  3. Vicinity Update, making location-based businesses more prominent in map results using proximity - 8th December, 2021

Page Experience Update  -  25th June, 2021

The Google Page Experience update was probably the most anticipated update of 2021, mostly because it was a rare example of an update that Google announced ahead-of-time, back in 2020.

What is the Google Page Experience Update?

The Page Experience Update began to consider a list of signals that track and measure the best browsing experience for users.

SEOs who hadn't been optimising site speed and visual page load time had to make a sudden shift to focus on this page experience optimisation. Businesses began to worry if they didn't have mobile friendly websites and weren't using HTTPS secure protocol, or were still using intrusive interstitials (or popups), despite Google warning against this, way back in the 2016 Mobile Friendly update.

Although a lot of SEO teams were already optimising page experience, Google introduced the actual metrics that would now be used to determine a website's load time, known as Core Web Vitals.

Google's post about Page Experience helped to explain the update in more detail, find out more here.

Google Page Title Rewrites Update - 16th August, 2021

The Google page title update that happened in August 2021 was a huge change in SEO, altering the very basics of what you might think you know about Google's search results.

Everyone is familiar with the first ten blue links in Google's search results page. You make your search, you look at the results, and click on one of the links that best suits what you searched for.

For businesses, website owners, and SEO experts everywhere, it's easy to tell Google what to show in your own link in search results (your organic search listing). You simply add a 'Page Title' to your page, and Google uses this in their search results as the link.

What is the Google Page Title Rewrites Update?

In August 2021, the way Google pulls page titles changed completely. Google began showing text from elsewhere on the webpage, instead of using the usual page title tag. There were many complaints across the industry of very unusual titles being created by Google, and were often not very descriptive or useful.

Our own clients had some page titles that changed to a much less user-friendly version, and in response we identified the affected pages and amended the on-page text being used in place of the page title to minimise the negative impact on click-through-rate. Google themselves acknowledged this update needed work, and luckily, this update only impacted less than 20% of website page titles.

Google created an article a week after the change was made, to provide more information on the update, find out more here.

Vicinity Update - 8th December, 2021

Although the SEO industry was inundated with talk of the November Google Core and December Product Reviews update, there was another update announced on the 16th of December.

What is the Google Vicinity Update?

The Vicinity Update was an update to local map search results in Google that was rolled out between November 30th and December 8th, which aimed to show businesses in Google Maps that are closer to the searcher's location.

This update mainly impacted businesses that have physical locations, or service a particular region or area.

Businesses that receive a lot of sales, enquiries or website visits from their Google My Business listing may have noticed a change. This is especially true if the business is targeting audiences in, for example, a large city, but the business premises is further away from the city centre itself, where most users will be searching.

To provide guidance on the changes, Google simply linked to their existing guidance on how they determine which businesses show in the map search results, find out more here.

Keep up-to-date with Google Algorithm Updates

If you’re looking to keep your website and content up-to-date with Google’s algorithm updates, or would like to increase your rankings and revenue, Click2Convert can support your entire SEO strategy. Get in touch today.

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