Google ranking factors to change search in 2021: Core Web Vitals, E-A-T, or AMP?


  • Google recently announced its biggest update of the year. It is named the Page Experience update
  • Core Web Vitals are a part of the update. They will be a vital ranking factor, especially when optimizing pages
  • As of now E-A-T is not a ranking factor. Experts aren’t certain whether it will become one in the future
  • AMP will stop being a requirement for the top stories section. Starting in 2021, even non-AMP pages can rank well in Top Stories
  • AMP to disappear within a couple of years

Google has been continuously updating its algorithm to give users the best possible results. Over the last decade, the search engine giant has launched several important updates.

Earlier this year, Google announced a new ranking algorithm designed to judge web pages based on how users perceive their experience of interacting with them.

If Google gets signals that the users of a particular website will have a poor experience interacting with its pages(measured by a new set of metrics known as core web vitals), it will not rank those pages as highly as they are ranked currently.

The update is named the Google Page Experience update. It is expected to go live in 2021.

Core Web Vitals: What are They and Why are They Important?

Core Web Vitals are a set of specific factors Google considers critical in a webpage’s user experience. Core Web Vitals comprise three page speed and user interaction measurements.

  • Largest Contentful Paint: Or LCP measures loading performance. LCP measures the time it takes for the largest single object on the page to load. A page is said to provide a good user experience if its LCP occurs within 2.5 seconds of when the page starts loading
  • First Input Delay: Or FID measures the time taken by the browser to respond to the first user interaction (first user interaction can be when a user clicks a link, taps on a button, or uses a JavaScript-powered control)
  • Cumulative Layout Shift: Or CLS measures how much core elements such as images, CTAs, and videos shift while the page downloads

Core Web Vitals and Rankings

Core Web Vitals will become a ranking signal next year. Google has assured developers that they will be notified before it starts rolling out these changes.  Starting 2021, Core Web Vitals, and not AMP will be a qualifier for getting into Top Stories.

A key factor that will impact website rankings in 2021 and beyond is Cumulative Layout Shift. When optimizing images, most SEO experts use the <decoding=async> attribute in the <img> tag to ensure page speed is not compromised while rendering the page.

Using the attribute without specifying the height and width of each image to be rendered can impact the quality of pages. Pages being jumpy was not much of a problem, as it didn’t influence the rankings. With CLS being formally announced as a ranking factor, things are going to change.

Going forward coders will have to ensure that every page is coded with CLS in mind. They will be expected to define the required space for every image in advance to avoid unnecessary layout shifts.

The Bottomline

If you are someone who does not focus on Technical SEO, Core Web Vitals becoming a ranking signal should not affect your day-to-day work.

Why is AMP Important?

Originally announced in 2016, Accelerated Mobile Pages accelerates the speed of your pages. Many SEO agencies in Ottawa and elsewhere have, however, voiced concerns about privacy issues.

Within the page Experience update, Google announced that AMP will no longer be a requirement to appear in the Top Stories section starting sometime next year.

This is a major update and can force SEO experts who try to accrue as many SERP features as they can to revisit their strategy.

AMP and Rankings

John Mueller, a Webmaster Trends Analyst believes AMP is not a ranking factor.  Things, however, are not as simple and direct as they may seem. AMP accelerates the speed of your pages and as we all know page speed is a ranking factor.

The faster your website loads, the better its experience and you do not need a rocket scientist to tell you that Google loves websites that provide a good user experience.

The Top Stories SERP feature has a major benefit to using an AMP. The Top Stories results occupy a substantial part of the page.

Top Stories are automatically ranked number one on the SERP. Plus, they have a logo of the posting website, making them stand out from the boring old-blue link SERP.

Till now websites had no option and were forced into using AMP to get into a Top Stories SERP feature in mobile as it gets a lot of clicks.

Maintaining AMP versions of webpages takes a lot of resources as you are basically maintaining a different version of your website.

A page optimized for speed might not need AMP for speed gains.

The Bottomline

AMP won’t disappear overnight, however, its popularity will take a hit in the next couple of years (thanks to privacy issues and the high cost of maintaining it).

Once Google rolls out the new update, AMP won’t be a requirement to get web pages featured in Google’s top stories section. SEO experts now do not have any reason to jeopardize their users’ privacy for speed gains.

E-A-T and SEO

Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness or E-A-T is an important part of Google’s algorithm.

  • E- stands for Expertise. The author of the content should be a subject matter expert
  • A-stands for Authoritativeness.
  • T-stands for Trustworthiness. There should be proof that the content is trustworthy

E-A-T is one of the most important factors Google’s search quality raters use to evaluate the quality of search results. Websites with trustworthy content earn high ratings on expertise,  authoritativeness and trustworthiness.

E-A-T and Rankings

SEO experts should not focus too much on E-A-T. Though Quality Rater Guidelines provide critical insights into Google’s ranking method, they are abstract concepts and lesser important factors. Many SEO experts believe that E-A-T is not a ranking factor.

A major problem here is that algorithms are designed to understand codes and are often unable to measure expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

Ben Gomes, Google’s VP of search engineering has confirmed that quality raters’ do not impact a page’s rankings directly.

That said, we have often seen that YML websites cannot rank without establishing authority and expertise. If you own a medical website, your content creator must be a healthcare professional who can create authoritative content that ranks.

It seems unlikely that Google will be able to find a way to transform these signals into rankings anytime soon.

The Bottomline

Google hasn’t given any indication that it will actually use E-A-T. Even if it starts using E-A-T, there is no certainty that they will become ranking factors. Keep things simple. Focus on traditional SEO tasks such as link building and technical optimization and you should see your rankings climb.

DiziExperts offers top-notch Toronto local SEO services. Every digital marketing expert in our team has a proven track record of success. Whatever your industry, we will come up with a strategy customized to your needs.

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