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

30-second summary:

  • The biggest Google upgrade of the year is called the Page Experience update.
  • Core Web Vitals are part of that update, and they are absolutely ranking aspects to remember, especially when enhancing images.
  • AMP is no longer the only way to get a “Top Stories” function on mobile. Beginning in 2021, any news webpage can become a “Top Story”.
  • Integrating AMP’s privacy issues and cost of operation may suggest that AMP will disappear within a couple of years.
  • E-A-T is not a ranking factor today, and we do not know if it will become one in the future.

2020. What a year. History is happening around us, and Google? Well, Google keeps on revamping their search algorithms. Throughout the years, there have actually been numerous many major algorithm updates, as Google worked to keep us on our toes. 2020 was no various: in one fell swoop, we got the news about a Page Experience upgrade and AMP news. All the while the argument about whether or not you require E-A-T for ranking rages on. How do the Core Web Vitals stand in altering the search video game in 2021?

Let’s review each of these developments and see which will change the method we do SEO, and which will fade into obscurity earlier instead of later.

1. Importance of core web vitals for SEO

Core Web Vitals were part of Page Experience update, and, without a doubt, caused the biggest ruckus.

There’s a lot to learn about Core Web Vitals, but they come down to the three biggest concerns on our webpages:

  1. LCP— Largest Contentful Paint, which deals with the packing speed of the largest single things on the page.
  2. FID— First Input Delay, which indicates the reaction time of the page to the first user input after (whether they click, tap, or press any keys).
  3. CLS— Cumulative Layout Shift– this is the procedure of just how much the content of the page leaps while packing material, primarily visual content, after opening.

How core web vitals affects rankings

Of course, some SEO experts think that the whole Page Experience upgrade is nothing special, and could even:” […] distract, […] from the core mission of interaction and storytelling,”.

And, sure, the majority of Page experience upgrade is just an assembly of things we’ve understood for a while: utilize HTTPS, be mobile-friendly, control your page speed, and so on.

But Core Web Vitals are a bit different and can affect the SEO practice in unforeseen methods. Key factor that’s already altering rankings is Cumulative Layout Shift.

As the majority of SEO professionals understand, for a while a fundamental part of image optimization was utilizing the < characteristic in the < tag to prevent losing page speed while rendering the page.

Using < could lead to some seriously janky pages if coders didn't define the height and width of each and every single image to be rendered. Some sites did it anyhow, for instance, Wikipedia on the majority of its pages has a predefined space for images created ahead of time.

Core Web Vitals and other ranking factors for 2021 - Wikipedia

But as SEO specialists we didn’t need to stress over pages being tense all too much, as that didn’t affect the rankings

. Now with CLS being formally revealed as a ranking element, things will alter for a whole slew of websites and SEO experts. We’ll need to ensure that every webpage is coded with CLS in mind, with the needed space for each image specified ahead of time, to avoid the layout shifts. The decision In general, naturally, it’s too early to inform, and more work by SEO’s around the web needs to be done here. It appears that if you aren’t utilized to focusing on technical SEO, Core Web Vitals becoming ranking signals might not influence your day-to-day work at all.

Nevertheless, if you are conducting complex technical SEO, then Core Web Vitals will absolutely change the way you work in as-yet unanticipated methods.

2. Significance of AMP for SEO

The AMP’s importance today is sort of an open question. While it’s always been fantastic as a quick-and-easy method to increase page speed, the privacy issues have actually been voiced over and over once again considering that the innovation’s extremely inception.

However in 2020, considerable modifications are afoot, because, within the same Page Experience upgrade, Google revealed that there’s lastly no requirement for us to produce AMP pages to inhabit the “Top Stories” SERP feature.

That’s a quite huge step for any person attempting to accumulate as numerous SERP features as they can, and, in particular, for news sites.

Core Web Vitals and other search ranking factors for 2021 - Top Stories

How AMP influences rankings If our company believe John Muellers’ words, then AMP is not a ranking factor. Appears plain and easy enough. Of course, things aren’t so simple, because AMP comes with pretty substantial gains in page speed, and speed is a crucial ranking

aspect. Thanks to AMP’s pre-rendering integrated with some severe design constraints, AMP websites typically truly do win in page speed, even if not in ranking as is.

The “Top Stories” SERP feature, nevertheless, was a huge benefit to using an AMP for any news agency with a site, and it’s easy to comprehend why. Simply look at just how much of the page is inhabited by the “Top Stories” results.

Not just do “Top Stories” immediately get leading 1 ranking on the SERP, however they likewise sport a logo of the website publishing them, standing out much more from the boring old blue-link SERP.

This suggests that for a few years now news websites were basically pushed into using AMP to get into a “Top Stories” SERP function on mobile since it soaks up a whole lot of clicks.

On the other hand, it takes quite a lot of resources to support AMP versions of the websites, because you are generally preserving a whole additional variation of your website.

Added to which, a page that’s been correctly optimized for speed may not need AMP for those speed gains, as well.

The decision

While it’s hard to think of that AMP will disappear completely within the next number of years, AMP’s privacy issues combined with the cost of keeping it may spell the end of it being a commonly utilized practice.

Now, with the “Top Stories” becoming available to non-AMP pages, there’s practically no factor to threaten the users’ security for speed gains you could manage correct optimization.

3. Significance of E-A-T for SEO

Expertise. Authority. Trust. All perfectly positive words and something we ought to all strive for in our expert lives. However what about search optimization?

Coming straight from Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines, E-A-T has been the talk of the town for a great minute now. Let’s dive in and see how they might change the method we optimize for search.

How E-A-T influences rankings

For the majority of us, they do not actually.

Sure, Quality Rater Guidelines provide important insights into Google’s ranking process. E-A-T is one of the lesser-important aspects we ought to be concentrating on, partially since these are ambiguous, abstract concepts, and partly due to the fact that Google doesn’t exactly want us to.

As Google’s official agents informed us, E-A-T is not in itself a ranking factor.

Receiving follow-up questions, Google’s John Mueller then reiterated that point, and Ben Gomes, Google’s VP of search engineering verified that quality raters do not influence any page’s rankings directly.

In practice, we typically see that the so-called YMYL websites already can’t rank without having some proficiency and authority established. A very popular example is that it’s virtually difficult to rank a website offering medical suggestions without an actual doctor writing the articles.

The problem here is that authority, reliability, and knowledge are not quickly analyzed by the search algorithms, which only comprehend code.

And, at the minute, there appears to be no guaranteed way for Google to transform these signals into rankings, other than to read the feedback of their quality raters before each algorithm update.

The decision

While using E-A-T to rank websites might seem like an inarguable advantage for the searcher, there is a number of issues that aren’t quickly resolved, namely:

  1. Who precisely will be identifying the E-A-T signals, and according to which requirement?
  2. The introduction of such factors develops a system where the smaller sized and newer sites are penalized in rankings for not having the credibility that they couldn’t realistically get.

Responding to both of these concerns requires time and effort on the online search engine’s side.

As things stand today, E-A-T is not something to keep in mind while doing everyday SEO operations.

Let’s imagine a fantastical situation where a webmaster/SEO expert has some spare time. Then they might want to work on E-A-T, to try and remain ahead of the curve.

On the other hand, there merely isn’t any evidence that Google will in fact use E-A-T. Or that, even if utilized, these signals will become significant ranking aspects. For this reason, E-A-T shouldn’t be your top priority ahead of standard SEO tasks like link building and technical optimization.

In addition, consider this. The entire Quality Rater Guidelines is 168 pages long. A comprehensive description of what E-A-T is and why it may be determined a specific method will take lots of more pages than that.


Since the time of this writing, the Core Web Vitals seems to be the most crucial ranking news to come out in 2020 in useful terms. Search is an incredibly volatile field: what worked 2 weeks ago may not work today, and what works today may not work for most of us.

The matters are even more complex since we’re fighting an unequal fight: it’s just not in search engines’ benefit to offer us a comprehensive and complete image of how ranking works, lest we abuse it.

This is why it’s vital to keep our hand on the pulse of optimization news and changes taking place every single day. With constant efforts from our SEO neighborhood to exercise the very best method to leading rankings, it’s possible for us to understand and close that space for sure which trends are critical, and which we can permit ourselves to ignore.

Aleh Barysevich is Founder and CMO at SEO PowerSuite and Awario. More about: