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Dealing with 2021’s Disruptors: Brexit Transition to Embracing the Google Page Experience Update

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Where 2020 threw previously unimaginable challenges at enterprises in every sector, 2021 has its own set of curveballs that most organisations need to be aware of – and deal with…

The (Trying & Testing) Brexit Transition

The Brexit Transition may not directly affect all private and public sector organisations in the UK, but for many companies, it’s proving to be a seismic shift affecting everything from data flows to supply chain management – and given the importance of a successful transition to the UK as a whole, it’s worth highlighting the current situation and the lessons being learnt.

Both the BBC and Financial Times have recently run numerous horror stories on individual businesses that are struggling to continue trading in a commercially viable way with continental Europe. Our take, based on talking to customers who are navigating the transition, is that there are three essential principles you need to adopt to bring about “Brexit-ready ecommerce” …

Get to grips with tax implications

With significant changes to tax rules, understanding your new responsibilities as a cross-border merchant is essential. And whichever of the rules are applicable to you – from the removal of low value consignment relief on goods under £15, to needing to be VAT registered in every country you're selling to, to all taxes now being collected at the point of sale – your systems will need updating accordingly.

Update your delivery data flows 

Fulfilling orders across borders is a complex task that requires data from a wide range of partners and providers. Managing this effectively in a post-Brexit world can mean producing new file formats, interfacing with new systems or adding new fields and logic to parcel flows between the UK and Europe; plus the UK Government has indicated that an EORI number may be needed too.

Be sure to check the allocation rules 

Ensuring that the correct carrier service is selected now that the UK is no longer in the EU is critical. Many retailers, for example, have allocation rules that select goods carriers based upon the destination country or trading block, and these may well need to be altered to reflect new regulations. It’s also wise to ensure that information provided is in line with the data generated by your delivery management system too.     

Always allow for the unexpected 

Allocate time and resources to handle unexpected changes (the fluid situation in Northern Ireland, for example, may demand future changes to systems and platforms if you’re distributing goods to that region); and build-in resilience into your supply chain by ensuring that you have a large network of carriers to draw from, as a contingency against disruption and delays.

The (Important & Imminent) Google Page Experience Update

Few organisations will escape the second major disruption of 2021: the ‘Page Experience Update’ (or ‘Core Web Vitals Update’, if you prefer) which is being deployed by Google in May 2021. It may not have commanded the column inches of Brexit, but the impact of ignoring this major change in Google’s algorithm game will most likely be reduced visibility in search updates – and less traffic as a result.

“The search traffic game will change from May 2021”

Prioritising great page experiences

Last May, Google announced that page experience signals would be included in their search ranking algorithm. Given everything going on in the world at that time, it didn’t stay front of mind for many people for very long – but it represents a key shift in Google’s ranking methodology, reflecting how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page.

In essence, from May 2021, Google will prioritise those pages that deliver a great page experience, combining what have been termed the so-called ‘Core Web Vitals’ – of loading performance, interactivity and visual stability – with existing search signals such as mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS-security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines.

“Google will prioritise ‘A Great Page Experience’ based on loading  performance, interactivity, visual stability, mobile friendliness and security”

In addition to the updates described above, Google is also testing a visual indicator that would highlight those pages which deliver a great page experience – an update that will likely create additional impact on clickthrough rates. The current snippet or image preview already helps provide topical content so users can understand what information a page can provide – and these visual indicators will do the same, identifying the pages that have met all of the ‘Great Page Experience’ criteria.

And Google being Google, there’s also a new range of tools designed to help you (and your competitors) continually improve the page experience. So the game really is about to change – and you need to make sure that you’re playing to the new rules, to maintain a winning position.

Test your own scores – and fix any issues

From an e-commerce perspective, this isn’t just about findability and visibility although that is obviously highly important. There’s additionally a direct correlation between an excellent page experience and strong conversion rates, so for many businesses, this is a real moment of truth in more ways than one. We’ll be running a special one hour event on 11th February, between 9am-10am, where we’ll be lifting the lid on this major new development, and bringing you insights and practical advice from in-the-field SEO, Marketing and Development experts.

Right now, you can test your own website scores here – and we're currently offering a bespoke service where we diagnose the underlying factors behind any poor scores, as well as fixing any issues to improve them. Just contact us at [email protected] to find out more.