Have you heard about the latest Google Algorithm change?On March 12th, Google released a Core Algorithm Change, which was confirmed a day later by the Google team. But what does this mean and how can it impact your website and your business?
What is the Google Algorithm?The first thing to understand is the way that Google ranks sites.The Google algorithm is the way that the search engine weighs up a huge range of different factors and decides which web results are going to be displayed to the searcher, and in what order. The exact nature of the Google algorithm is not known, and it’s always changing as search changes and improves.This is one of the reasons why you may see keywords move around, despite not making any changes to your site.
Why Do Algorithm Changes Matter?Now you understand that the algorithm is used to rank web results, it follows that changes in the algorithm will lead to changes in the ranking.Small changes happen all the time and are rarely confirmed. These are unlikely to make a meaningful impact on your site traffic, especially if you are doing SEO work to improve your positions. Big updates are different.A big update, such as the core one that we have seen in March, can dramatically affect positions, and this will have a knock on effect to the traffic of your website. Reduced traffic means less customers for your business, which is especially relevant if organic search is one of your main sources of traffic.
When Was the Last Google Algorithm Change?While small changes take place all the time, the last confirmed change took place in September 2018, and there was one the month before as well, in August. These core updates tend to affect all sorts of sites as they are broader and not focused on specific issues. This can also make them more difficult to engage with.An example of a more specific update would be the ‘speed update’ in July 2018. This update used the speed at which a webpage loads on a mobile device as a ranking factor. Not only was this algorithm announced at the beginning of the year to allow the website to prepare, but there was also a straightforward way to fix any drops that it caused – improve your mobile load speed! We advised our SEO clients months in advance on how to prepare for this update and provided improvements to several sites.While the March update is the first confirmed update of 2019, many resources indicate that other updates that have affected traffic have been taking place since the beginning of the year.
Have You Been Affected and What Should You Do?If you’ve noticed a sudden and sustained change in your positions around the 12th or 13th of March, it’s likely that the core update has made a difference to your site.With more specific updates, there are normally clear changes you can make to your website which will improve the rankings.Broad updates like this one are difficult to respond to. Google themselves are often reluctant to discuss these changes because they do not advise making any changes to respond to them.Our SEO team have been studying the change and keeping up with the latest analysis online. We would advise that the change appears to be in line with Google’s priority of high quality content and a positive customer experience. This should be the foundation of an SEO strategy, and as a result we have seen mostly positive movement for our clients following this update.
SEO is Constantly Changing and We Are PreparedThe nature of search is uncertain.Updates can take place at any time which may impact your site’s positions.But uncertainty does not equate to randomness.Having been in the SEO business for over 18 years, we have seen huge changes in search. It’s important to understand that overall, search engines strive to provide good quality results. While some updates may call for specific action, following best practice and staying on top of your SEO work will always give good results.Our years of experience have given us an excellent understanding of when to wait for positions to stabilise and when to make changes to boost them. We keep up with all the latest Google updates and recommendations so that we can get the best results for our clients.
If you’d like to talk more about how this or any update has affected your site, get in touch with us today on 0333 332 6396 or fill in our contact form to book a free, 15 minute SEO consultation.
Google is always springing changes on us when it comes to the SERPs (search engines results pages) and they rarely go to plan, even when we got hints of what was coming months in advance. At the start of this year we saw a classic example, as Google had been dropping clues about an update to its Penguin algorithm until suddenly things appeared to change in early 2016. It turns out the Penguin update was almost undetectable, if it even happened at all, but a more significant core algorithm update has had a major impact on the rankings of some high profile websites.
Many different independent services that monitor major shifts on Google’s SERPs reported noticeable changes as January drew to a close this year. Google employees responded on Twitter to confirm that it was actually the core algorithm that received another makeover and not just one of its smaller constituent parts like Penguin. The top 100 ranking websites in the world are commonly used as a benchmark to judge the significance of algorithm changes, and in this case there was quite a visible shake-up. The changes were rolled out on desktop and mobile SERPs indiscriminately, and it’s taken until now for the dust to settle and patterns to emerge.
Even now as we enter April, nobody has worked out exactly what happened in the latest core update, because many high ranking sites dropped while others were suddenly boosted. In fact, 50% of the biggest winners and losers from the last update are different now to the ones we would have seen at the end of last year. Here’s what we do know for sure…
1) Content Determines A Lot
Another update focused on rewarding good content!? This isn’t shocking if you have any recent SEO experience, but certain types of content are now being judged as better quality than others. Publisher sites that tend to mention various brands in their articles have seen many of their indexed pages fall on the SERPs, while brands’ own websites have seen their content-rich pages gain positions. This was first spotted in the USA but has later been proven in other territories, so presumably the same new rules are universal.
So what does this actually mean? Well, it seems Google wants to reward brands who own their high quality content and are in control of their brand mentions. If your brand-related keywords are mainly featured on other websites rather than your own, those results might start dropping off. This could be good or bad, depending on how you want people to find you.
2) New Content Is Favoured
Another related point here, but the core update was very much focused on content. Not only is the type important on the SERPs now, but also the age of it. We already knew that fresh content is useful, but this sudden shake-up saw older content tumbling down the rankings fast while fresh pages climbed. Talking about current topics that are widely mentioned in the news and social media also leads to better rankings.
3) Mixed Content Does Better
Do proper keyword analysis! It’s not a good idea to have a page of basic text with multiple mentions of the same phrase if you want to take advantage of the latest Google update. Images and video seem to be helping pages climb, plus having a range of related keywords helps to strengthen the perceived relevance of your text. All these things will usually make your content more engaging for a reader, which explains why Google is starting to prefer them.
4) Answering A Query Helps
For perhaps the first time, keyword-rich content isn’t really essential for certain types of pages to rank at the top of the SERPs. If you answer a question that someone put into Google, your bounce rate will be lower and people will spend more time engaging with your website even if you have no written text that matches the query. You might be able to achieve this by featuring videos or interactive games on your website – Google can’t understand the content of these but it’s learning to recognise the signs of a suitable answer being given in an unusual way. A few sites that only featured educational games on their pages saw their rankings improve based on the new update.
If you’re confused or concerned about how these changes might affect the approach you need to take with your SEO, get in touch with us and find out how we can help. We stay on top of the latest trends so we can keep you informed and make sure all our techniques are helping our clients reach the highest positions as fast as possible. Learn more about our affordable SEO packages for different sized businesses here or drop us a line to see if we can answer your questions.
- Google’s vehicles drove 424,331 miles without manual control.
- In 72 instances, the car’s software registered a “failure” that resulted in emergency control being given to the manual driver.
- In a further 69 cases, the driver took control without being alerted by the system because they anticipated an accident themselves.
- Computer simulations designed to replicate each incident found that in 13 of the cases where drivers intervened, a crash would have occurred if they had failed to do so.