Free Tool Helps Web Devs with Google’s ‘Complex’ SEO Update

Free Tool Helps Web Devs with Google’s ‘Complex’ SEO Update

Open source maintainer Daniel Roe is offering a free tool to help web developers assess how they’ll fare with Google Search’s new core update, including for Interaction to Next Paint, which officially rolled out on Tuesday.
The March release was “a more complex update than our usual core updates, involving changes to multiple core systems,” wrote senior staff analyst Chris Nelson on behalf of the Google Search Quality Team. That means it may take more than a month to roll out all of the updates, he added. Those who are eager to know when the changes are complete can check the Google Search Status Dashboard.
“It’s likely there will be more fluctuations in rankings than with a regular core update, as different systems get fully updated and reinforce each other,” Nelson wrote.
The complex update corresponds to a more complex approach to assessing websites for ranking.
“Just as we use multiple systems to identify reliable information, we have enhanced our core ranking systems to show more helpful results using a variety of innovative signals and approaches,” Nelson stated. “There’s no longer one signal or system used to do this… .”
A new FAQ explains further what makes content helpful and attempts to dispel some common myths about what content creates a better ranking.
Sometimes, these changes can impact legitimate sites, as bloggers learned in 2011 with the Panda update. But the point — as per usual — is to improve search quality by showing less spammy content while prioritizing information people will find useful. As part of that effort, Google also introduced three new spam policies.

Expired domain abuse. That’s when an expired domain name is purchased and repurposed “primarily to manipulate search rankings by hosting content that provides little to no value to users” Google noted.
Scaled content abuse. This is when many pages are generated for the primary purpose of manipulating search rankings rather than helping users.
Site reputation abuse. “When third-party pages are published with little or no first-party oversight or involvement, where the purpose is to manipulate search rankings by taking advantage of the first-party site’s ranking signals,” Google explained. “Such third-party pages include sponsored, advertising, partner, or other third-party pages that are typically independent of a host site’s main purpose or produced without close oversight or involvement of the host site, and provide little to no value to users.”

This doesn’t mean all third-party content is a violation — only content designed to manipulate Search rankings are the offenders, Nelson noted.
Free Tool for Core Web Vitals
Roe’s tool, called simply, also has a GitHub repo. Roe leads the Nuxt core team, so the tool is built on the Vue framework, of course. Since it’s easier to get good results for desktop, which the documentation noted doesn’t adequately reflect a site’s performance, specifically focuses on mobile results.
“The aim of is to make it easy and straightforward to share web performance results,” the GitHub repo notes. “Currently, PageSpeed Insights and Core Web Vitals results are difficult to share, and often shared via screenshot rather than via a link back to the source.”
Image courtesy
The tool provides numbers for:

Largest Contentful Paint, which measures perceived load speed;
Cumulative Layout Shift, which measures the distance that the page moves from the original position to the final position; and
Interaction to Next Paint (INP), which replaced First Input Delay this week as a core web vital. It also offers a link to more fully explore the results in the CrUX Dashboard.

Interaction to Next Paint vs. First Input Delay
First Input Delay (FID) reports the responsiveness of the first time a user interacts with the page, but that’s not necessarily representative of all interactions on the page afterward, according to Annie Sullivan, senior staff software engineer at Google, and Rick Viscomi, a staff DevRel engineer and web performance lead for Google. In essence, First Input Delay only measures the amount of time the browser had to wait before beginning to handle the first interaction.
INP is a more accurate metric because it takes all interactions into account, according to Sullivan and Viscomi. It measures the full duration from the start of the interaction, through the event handler and until the browser is able to paint the next frame, they explained in a blog post.
“These implementation details make INP a much more comprehensive measure of user-perceived responsiveness than FID,” they added.
JavaScript can impact INP because JavaScript is single-threaded by default, according to Vercel, a frontend development platform.
“If you’re loading a large JS script, nothing else can happen on your page until the main thread is idle — even reacting to a user’s click on a plain HTML link,” Vercel noted. “Improving INP means improving how quickly this main thread can respond to user interaction.”


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Loraine Lawson is a veteran technology reporter who has covered technology issues from data integration to security for 25 years. Before joining The New Stack, she served as the editor of the banking technology site Bank Automation News. She has…

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