The Latest Google Updates for 2021

by Alex Stephens


We all know how difficult it can be to keep up with Google's ever-evolving updates and algorithms. To make it simpler, we've put together a list of Google updates which have already happened this year and any that you should keep a look out for in the coming year. We have also provided some further information as to what each update actually means and how it impacts your website and marketing. This means you can adapt your website and marketing activities accordingly to future proof your business and stay ahead of the competition.

Google Ads: Update on Display campaigns and targeting expansion

Release date: January 2022

Standard Display campaigns using targeting expansion will be updated to use optimised targeting. If you don't want these campaigns to use optimised targeting, turn off targeting expansion in the campaigns before January 2022.

What is optimised targeting?

Optimised targeting helps you reach relevant audiences while meeting your performance goals. This brings the benefit of Smart Display campaigns to standard Display campaigns and replaces the optional targeting expansion setting on standard Display campaigns.

Google Ads: No longer able to create expanded search ads

Release date: from 30 June 2022

From the 30th June 2022, you'll no longer be able to create or edit expanded text ads in Google Ads. However, existing expanded text ads will continue to serve alongside responsive search ads, and you'll see reports on their performance going forward. You'll still be able to pause, resume and remove them too. 

To prepare for this change, we recommend ensuring that you have at least one responsive search ad in every ad group before the 30th June 2022. We'd also recommend writing and testing out different ad copy in multiple ads to see which performs best. When creating your responsive search ads, you'll notice a handy feature - ad strength, as you work through creating your ad, Google Ads will highlight each circle with a green tick once you have satisfied each criteria such as 'add more headlines' and 'make your headlines more unique.

Google Ads: Upcoming redesign to Google Search

Release date: TBC

Google is constantly focused on improving the user experience of its products. This is evident in an upcoming redesign to Google search which will start to show "things to know" boxes that direct you to different subtopics. When there's a section of a video that's relevant to the main topic, even when the video as a whole is not, it will send you there. Google shopping results will also begin showing products available in nearby stores, and even clothing in various styles associated with your search.

"One of Google’s examples is instructive. You may not have the first idea what the parts of your bicycle are called, but if something is broken you’ll need to figure that out. Google Lens can visually identify the derailleur (the gear-changing part hanging near the rear wheel) and rather than just give you the discrete piece of information, it will allow you to ask questions about fixing that thing directly, taking you to the information." (Source: The Verge)

Page experience update

Release date: June 2021

"Page experience is a set of signals that measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its pure information value. It includes Core Web Vitals, which is a set of metrics that measure real-world user experience for loading performance, interactivity, and visual stability of the page. It also includes existing Search signals: mobile-friendliness, HTTPS, and intrusive interstitial guidelines." (https://developers.google.com/)

How does page experience affect rankings?

According to Google, the page experience ranking signal went into effect for mobile devices in August 2021. Google will begin using page experience as part of their desktop ranking signals in February 2022. The roll out will be complete by March 2022. Although page experience is becoming a new ranking signal, Google is still seeking out websites that have high quality page content so it is important that you still focus on this as a top priority. 

How can I prepare my website?

The following are Google's page experience signals:

Core Web Vitals - The page provides a good user experience, focusing on the aspects of loading, interactivity, and visual stability: 

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): Measures loading performance. To provide a good user experience, strive to have LCP occur within the first 2.5 seconds of the page starting to load.
  • First Input Delay (FID): Measures interactivity. To provide a good user experience, strive to have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): Measures visual stability. 
  • To provide a good user experience, strive to have a CLS score of less than 0.1. 
Here are some tools that can help you measure and monitor Core Web Vitals.

Mobile-friendly - The page is mobile-friendly. Check if your page is mobile-friendly with the Mobile-Friendly Test

For desktop, this signal isn't applicable. When a site has separate desktop and mobile URLs with an appropriate configuration, the desktop signal is based on the URLs that desktop users see.

HTTPS - The page is served over HTTPS. Check if your site's connection is secure. If the page isn't served over HTTPS, learn how to secure your site with HTTPS.

No intrusive interstitials - The content on the page is easily accessible to the user. Learn how interstitials can make content less accessible.

How can I find out how my page experience is currently performing?

To find out how your page experience is performing and where work needs to be done, you need to ensure you have Google Search Console set-up. When you're in Google Search Console, on the left hand side navigate to Experience > Page Experience and it will show the pages with a poor status within the core web vitals section so you can see where improvements need to be made. You will also be able to identify any issues with mobile usability and HTTPS.

If you're looking for support on how to prepare your website and marketing for the updates above, our experts will be happy to help. Simply give us a call or drop us an email and one of the team will talk through your requirements.