Google’s September 2019 Core Update: What You Should Know

See Your Search Score Surge With Our SEO Checklist

Google announced a core algorithm update on September 24. It's important to understand what core updates mean because the search engine will rarely provide details on what specific changes were made to its search algorithm. Usually, the takeaways are related to white hat SEO methods, which takes a human-like approach to search results by prioritizing relevancy and user experience above everything else. With each update, Google echos the advice we give to the creators who produce successful content on our CMS platform every day.

Click here to read Google's statement on their process for releasing core updates. For the September 2019 core update, it could be days or weeks before you notice a difference in your search traffic. In the meantime, here's how you can be prepared and benefit from this update.

Emphasis on E-A-T

Similar to a white hat SEO strategy, E-A-T stands for expertise, authority, and trust. This has nothing to do with algorithms, but rather a human evaluation of whether or not your content should be trusted. Routinely ask yourself, is your content relevant, informative, and beneficial to readers searching for your designated keywords? Is it better than the links that are currently winning the phrases you want? Read more about this methodology here.

Your E-A-T Checklist

Trying to pinpoint if your content has an emphasis on E-A-T can be abstract. However, there are some simple things you can do to make sure your content is optimized correctly:

Improve "About" Content: First, improve author profiles and bios. Sites that feature trusted people with detailed, impressive bios on the topics your content is about will improve trust. Also, make sure those profiles are easy to navigate to on site.

Next, review all of your "About Us" pages. Edit them as if the audience is a human reviewer at Google tasked with giving you a trust and expertise score. Are you making the right case for your content?

Review Your Ads: Review your current ad delivery. If your site features too many intrusive or irritating ads, then you'll lose trust in the eyes of Google. Remember, the search engine is hyper-focused on user experience. Ads can be the number one way to tank a site's user experience.

Link to High-Performing Content: Focus on your content that has already performed well, and this doesn't always mean internal links. Linking to trustworthy articles that are already winning your desired key phrase can demonstrate to Google that you deserve a seat at the page one table. On RebelMouse, you can add these links right from our Entry Editor.

Send Regular, Thoughtful Emails: Next on the E-A-T checklist is to tighten up your email strategy. Newsletter alerts on important content can help build influencer links that are valuable and spread across the digital ecosystem quickly. Plus, it offers people the opportunity to sign up for breaking and important news in the future. This kind of engagement will help build your case for relevancy to Google.

Write With Relevancy: It's important to post on subjects that your authors are truly qualified to write about. For example, don't publish an article with medical advice that isn't written by a medical professional. Focus on topics that are on message with your brand's special expertise. Also, avoid obvious rewrites or risk penalty from Google.

Use Particles, Media, and Images: Google looks for standout articles that took a lot of time, care, and love to produce. Creating articles that are full of dynamic media, including user-generated content, slideshows, multi-column layouts, and more, will tip off Google that it's crawling a carefully written post. It's true that quality content matters the most, but the presentation is also important, too. Multidimensional media is a vital way to improve any article's visual score. Be sure to use RebelMouse's Particle Assembler and Add Media Bar for inspiration.

Review Third-Party Calls: Using a lot of third-party calls across your site will lower your PageSpeed Insights score and significantly reduce your trust with Google. Try to use only what you need. Review your Google Tag Manager account to make sure that your code is clean. If possible, expire JavaScript vendors that aren't performing, and instead just add the code to your website. Third-party vendors will slow down your site significantly, which is a fatal blow to your search ranking. Click here to learn more about how Google measures page speed. Fixing these issues is the quickest way to improve your SEO efforts.

Improve Your Search Strategy With RebelMouse

RebelMouse has proprietary SEO technology that quickly propels our clients to Google's page one with every publish. Thanks to the scale of our platform, we have access to large sets of data which help us monitor and identify algorithm updates before they happen. Usually, the sites we power are well prepared for Google's core updates and see a surge in search traffic.

Request a proposal today and let's start working together. If you're already on a site powered by RebelMouse, email support@rebelmouse.com or contact your account manager today to learn more about how to thrive during this core update.

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In an effort to build user retention and increase conversions, publishers are making a common mistake. They're adding more features to their websites, including ad placements, but losing sight of the main revenue driver: user experience.

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Game Changer: Google's Core Web Vitals Announcement

Google cemented its seriousness about page experience with the announcement of its Core Web Vitals measurements in Google Search Console. Core Web Vitals are three specific metrics that Google uses to determine a site's overall usability. While these data points will evolve over time, the 2020 version of vitals consists of three specific metrics:

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): A website's LCP is the time it takes to load the main content on a page. Google wants LCP to happen within 2.5 seconds of when a page first starts loading.

First Input Delay (FID): This metric quantifies a user's experience when trying to interact with unresponsive pages. This usually occurs between First Meaningful Paint (FMP) and Time to Interactive (TTI) (more on what these two mean below). You want your FID score to be low to prove the usability of your site. According to Google, pages should haven an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.

Cumulative Layout Shift Score (CLS): CLS determines how often your users experience unexpected layout shifts or changes on a page. To ensure visual stability, you want your CLS score to be low. Google wants pages to maintain a CLS score of less than 0.1.

From Google.

Google says Core Web Vitals scores will be considered across every page, and will be a ranking factor in its Top Stories feature. While relevant quality content will always be the most important, the page experience ranking is now a make-or-break metric for your site's survival.

"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." —From Google's page experience announcement, May 2020

Core Web Vitals will determine every site's performance score. You can see your site's Core Web Vitals specifically via Google Search Console, but your website's overall page performance is measured using Google's PageSpeed Insights and Lighthouse tools.

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And here's what the scores look like for some of the biggest sites on the open web:

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First Contentful Paint (FCP): This metric measures the time from click to the time when a user's browser renders the first bit of content from the Document Object Model (DOM), which is your site's HTML structure. According to Google, this is an important milestone for your readers because it provides signals that your page is loading.

First Meaningful Paint (FMP): This is the amount of time it takes the most important content, what Google calls "hero elements," to load on site. Hero elements are different for every site, but should be intuitive based on your content. This metric helps determine your site's usability.

Time to Interactive (TTI): This is the most important metric to keep an eye on. This is when the site is fully rendered and ready for user action. This is a critical point when slow load time can occur, usually because JavaScript or other complex content hasn't fully rendered. So, in short, think of TTI as how long it takes for your site to load in its entirety.

Total Blocking Time (TBT): TBT measures a page's load responsiveness to quantify how long a page is non-interactive prior to becoming interactive. You want your site to have a low TBT to maintain its usability.

Speed Index (SI): SI is the measurement of how quickly the contents of a page are populated. You want your speed index score to be as low as possible.

Creating quality content is only half the battle in 2020, and publishers are already burdened with the around-the-clock task of creating content that resonates. This is why quality content must be supported by modern technology that can keep up with the speed of the web. RebelMouse provides publishers with a CMS that supports the new content lifecycle with an editorial suite designed for reach on site, search, and social.

Click here to read more about our modern approach to web performance. If you want to make performance a priority, request a proposal today. We can easily transform your site into one of the fastest on the web, giving you increased user retention and better conversion rates than ever before.

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If I had more time, this website would have loaded faster

In the first months of 2020, we've focused at RebelMouse on page speed and performance. We worked very hard and found ways to take 90% of the sites we power to 90+ performance scores via Google's PageSpeed Insights tool — even with sites that are loaded with ads, embeds, third-party analytics, and other typical slow-loading elements. You can read more about our victories here.

A few months after we started this process, COVID-19 hit the world very hard. Suddenly, every media company was faced with a huge problem: Advertising fell off a cliff in what seemed like seconds. The only way to survive this unprecedented downturn is to grow traffic and control costs at the same time. So we started to shave our code and made our websites faster. We dropped costs just as dramatically as we were increasing scores.

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As we announced this to our site network and rolled it out publicly, many of our clients asked me personally, "How did you do it?" The answer is easy to understand regardless of how technical you may be. It's perfectly summarized in this wonderful quote attributed to Mark Twain:

"If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter."
—Blaise Pascal, 1657 (and later, more famously Mark Twain)

The universe is sometimes very beautiful, and especially when you keep it simple. If you would like to start publishing on a site optimized for both speed and sustainability, request a proposal and let's start working together.

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