A lot of people see Google as a giant evil superpower. But that's far from the case. Nobody does more to clean up the internet than Google. And they have their work cut out for them.
There are roughly 500,000 new websites created worldwide, every single day. Not all of them are created by people who know what they're doing. Some of these sites are unsecured, slow, or provide a bad user experience.
Google helps create a better web for everyone by ensuring that searchers only find the best websites. They know what we want and they know what annoys us. They are constantly changing their search algorithm to ensure that they are rewarding the sites that meet our needs, while devaluing the ones that frustrate us.
With that in mind, here is what Google is doing to 'fix' the internet in 2021, and eliminate some of the things that annoy us.
Problem: Too Many Websites are Still Unsafe
Paul Teitelman worked in the SEO industry for a decade before starting his own Toronto SEO company a few years ago. He says that the web was basically 'The Wild West' 10 years ago, with very little law and order, and it wasn't always safe for the user.
But things are considerably safer today and Google is looking to keep things moving in the right direction in 2021 with their next big update.
This update will combine the signals derived from Core Web Vitals (more on those later) with their existing search signals for page experience. This includes Safe-browsing and HTTPS-security. Simply put, they are giving more SEO juice to the pages that can provide the safest experiences.
The best way to make the web safer is to incentivize businesses to create safe websites, and that is exactly what Google is doing.
Problem: Web and Mobile Browsing are Still Too Slow
Our internet providers and devices are getting faster, but many of us are still not really noticing a difference in load speeds for day-to-day browsing.
Google is combating this with their next update by bringing more granular measurements of page speed to the forefront.
Their algorithm will now factor in a page's:
- Largest Contentful Paint: Measuring how long it takes for a page's biggest image/video/asset to load
- First Input Delay: Measuring when the page is clickable or interactive
- Cumulative Layout Shift: Measuring when a page's elements and format stop moving around during loading
This expands the definition of a 'slow website' and helps marketers and webmasters realize where their lagging could be.
Problem: The Web is Still Not Mobile-Friendly Enough
A few years ago, Google announced that they would slowly start moving towards mobile-first indexing.
That should have been enough motivation for site owners to ensure that their mobile experiences were properly optimized. But, that wasn't the case.
Roughly 50% of all web traffic comes from mobile devices, and yet we're still seeing a lot of bad mobile sites on the web. In fact, recent data reveals that:
- About 24% of the web's top websites are still not mobile-friendly
- About 70% of sites in the small business sector are still not mobile-friendly
Mobile-first indexing is now pretty much the norm for the entire web. Mobile-friendliness being a major ranking signal will hopefully motivate more webmasters to make it a priority.
Problem: Interstitial Ads are Annoying and Intrusive
How many times have you visited a site and had your experience interrupted by an interstitial ad asking you to join their mailing list?
You didn't come here to join their mailing list, but you can't do anything until you sign up or find the tiny 'No Thanks' hypertext. That text is also not always easy to click if you're on the mobile site.
Google is seeking to eliminate this problem by setting some very clear guidelines for interstitial ads and punishing the sites that don't comply with them.
As you can see, Google is not evil. Everything that Google does, they do for you: the user. Every update they make is in the interest of making a better search experience for everyday people.
We have only covered a few of the updates that Google will likely make over the next year. However, these are the ones that you are most likely going to notice. Look for the average website to be faster, more secure, more mobile-friendly, and more user-friendly in 2021.