Google regularly releases what is called ‘Google Search Ranking Updates‘ and there were ten of them released in 2022 during the year. Each one has a slightly different purpose or intent, but the primary goal is to make sure people who are searching are getting the best quality result possible. These are often referred to as Google Core Updates and each time they will have a different impact on all websites around the world.
The most significant changes to the search algorithm is called a “Core Update.” Most of the time there will be one or two of these a year that can produce notable effects with some websites seeing huge drops in traffic and others enjoying gains in search rankings or search volume.
As always Google is trying to focus on content and delivering the best results based on quality information from trusted sources. So their algorithm changes will reward websites that are delivering this and there is a big emphasis on something called E-A-T;
– Authoritativeness and
If your business relies on your website to generate sales from selling products, offering services or even tours, then it is important to understand if any of these changes impact your website. You can do this by looking at your Google Search Console or Google Analytics reporting tools to see if anything does change in the days or weeks after an update is released.
If you don’t know how to use these tools then you can engage a digital marketing consultant who can conduct a website audit to summarise your sites performance and keyword ranking changes. Below are some of the key areas that need to be reviewed to ensure there is minimal impact after any Google Core update.
Why your website content has to be good quality
Does your website just state the obvious or provide basic industry definitions without adding any real value?
Google provides very clear guidelines and a framework for how website content should be created. Too many business owners either don’t hire a copywriter to create wording for their website or they do it themselves and write simple, very generic, statements like;
‘ we are experts in our industry’
‘ we are specialists’
‘ we are very experienced at doing X’
‘ we provide a customer satisfaction guarantee’
If you go to enough websites you will see the same thing written over and over and over. Every business owner feels like they have to copy the other ones that they see – this is wrong, it is not creating a unique point of difference for your brand, business, service offering or products.
To put this into perspective, the release notes of the Google May 2020 Core Update provided the following questions as a framework to score and review the content you have on your website. In a lot of cases a business might simply state what they do, define the industry and service they offer but then provide little real value beyond that. What Google will reward is a deeper, richer experience for visitors where they can get quality information. This is what they provide as a guide
- Does the content provide original information, reporting, research or analysis?
- Does the content provide a substantial, complete or comprehensive description of a topic?
- Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond the most obvious things or simple definitions?
- If the content draws on other sources, does it avoid copying or rewriting from those and therefore provide substantial additional value and originality?
- Does the headline and/or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?
- Does the headline and/or page title avoid being exaggerating or shocking in nature?
- Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
- Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
In early 2020 I was on a short term marketing contract for Scootering. This company rented scooters to people for all kinds of use and after listening to their customers I decided to write a number of content marketing pieces that explained how to use the scooters for different situations.
Nearly 3 years later they still rank on the first page of Google for ‘Uber Eats scooter rental‘ and related phrases (and yes this might change depending on when you are reading this!) The reason for this result is due to the depth of content I wrote on their website on their service pages and also in blog posts that provided all the relevant information about renting a scooter to use for food delivery.
Instead of trying to compete directly for the most popular keyword phrases, the content was written to start helping people learn how to solve their problem ie rent a scooter to earn money doing food delivery. So my digital marketing focussed on helping people who were the direct target market for this business. This information over time helped the scooter rental company outrank its competition and get found across hundreds of keyword search variations which grew their organic traffic volumes.
What is even more important is the information not only helped them get found online by people searching, but it converted them into new customers because the information provided helped answer all the common questions they had. The rest of the website and service was presented very professionally (unlike their competitors) so people built trust quickly & made an enquiry.
This is why It is important to follow when Google releases a core update because it can significantly impact a website’s search engine rankings and visibility in search results. Google’s core updates are designed to improve the quality and relevance of search results for users, so they may cause fluctuations in search rankings for websites that do not meet the new quality standards.
For business owners, it is important to monitor the impact of Google’s core updates on their website’s search rankings and traffic. If a website experiences a significant drop in rankings or traffic after a core update, it may be necessary to make changes to the website’s content, structure, or SEO strategy to regain lost visibility.
Engaging a digital marketing consultant can be a smart decision to do analysis on the impact of a core update on a business’s website. A consultant can provide expertise and insight into how the update may have affected the website’s search rankings and traffic and can recommend strategies for recovering lost visibility.
If you position yourself as an expert you can grow your website traffic
Google will evaluate the level of expertise that is provided through the content on the site.
What lots of website owners are guilty of doing is simply putting the basics on their website hoping that people will see a few pretty photos, a logo then want to buy or engage with their brand. Far from it, especially if it is all written similar to other businesses and full of stock library photos that look and feel very generic.
Google will apply their own analysis to understand how credible the information is that is being displayed on the site, so if all you have written is ‘we are experienced ‘, ‘we are industry specialists’ etc then this is just more generic garbage that nearly everyone is writing. So it doesn’t really help in the end compared to website content that is written to provide good quality information and help.
Imagine a competitive industry like plumbing where 70% of websites have the same information, it will be the ones that demonstrate a high level of expertise that will get more website visitors from organic search vs those that don’t. Most plumbing websites have a generic services page with a few sentences about blocked drains, changing a tap or fixing a leak – every other plumbing company has the same thing. Google provides this guidance as an assessment;
- Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page?
- If you researched the site producing the content, would you come away with an impression that it is well-trusted or widely-recognised as an authority on its topic?
- Is this content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?
- Is the content free from easily-verified factual errors?
- Would you feel comfortable trusting this content for issues relating to your money or your life?
How does Google rank a page or website for certain keywords?
There are over 200 factors that are considered before a website earns a ranking
You can try and stuff as many words as you like onto a page or spin paragraphs of text different ways or even have the most incredible photos on the planet. Although if on page SEO basics like headings, spelling, meta data or even the titles of posts or pages haven’t been considered then you reduce the chances of being found online. Google provides these key points to follow when writing content for a website;
- Is the content free from spelling or stylistic issues?
- Was the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
- Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
- Does the content have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
- Does content display well for mobile devices when viewed on them?
- Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
- Does the content seem to be serving the genuine interests of visitors to the site or does it seem to exist solely by someone attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
Once you are able to tick those boxes the site, page or post has to be set up using the correct SEO techniques to ensure you have a chance of getting found with organic search. This is where it can be beneficial to engage a digital marketing consultant or a content marketing specialist. They can take the draft of your content piece and make adjustments to ensure it has all the right on page SEO elements needed.
You can go a step further and have them conduce keyword research or competitor analysis to ensure the right wording, phrases and information is being covered that can help you outrank other websites that have similar content. Once this has been completed the page or post can be manually submitted to Google for indexing and you can follow the progress using Google Search Console.
Whether Google chooses to index the page or give it a keyword ranking of any sort will depend how well all of the content has been written and set up. I have seen lots of businesses write ten, twenty or even fifty blog posts on their website that get zero traffic simply because they haven’t been written correctly & lack the depth needed to be indexed by Google.
Business owners who try and do content marketing themselves are generally wasting their time for a few reasons;
- They do not understand how to set up a page or post correctly so that technically it will be indexed by search engines.
- The content is too shallow and doesn’t have enough depth to outrank or win positions over competitors with similar content.
- They have no expertise to review a page or posts’ performance using Google Analytics or Google Search Console to know if it is working for them or not.
- What they write is too personal or doesn’t answer the big questions or topics people are actually searching for.
How do you know if a Google Core Update affects your website?
Data, data, data – Google Analytics & Google Search Console will give you the information you need.
You don’t have to guess or have a gut instinct about whether the release of a Google Algorithm change has made an impact on your business.
The data that can prove it is available 24/7 to show you by keyword, by page or even by Country what has changed. You can compare this by week, month or year to see what is changing and by how much.
Google Analytics together with Google Search Console provides hundreds of data points that can be reviewed to understand what is changing on your website and which areas may need to be addressed.
Keep in mind your competitors may have updated their website, so your losses may be due to them improving their website execution. I can do a complete website audit of your data to give you the insights and information relating to your website’s performance.
What do you do if A Google Core Update decreases your keyword rankings?
If your website rankings change and you lose search results you have to build an action plan to address the problem areas.
So maybe you know how to analyse your data but then what? What do you do if you have found your site is losing traffic? The reasons could be wide and varied with each situation being unique. Although the key is going back to the questions raised above as they are the reasons something has changed.
It simply means that your site vs lots of others may not be seen to have a strong enough E-A-T score vs your competitors hence it is time for an update which could be related to your content, page structure, URL naming and more.
We can help conduct an audit to determine your course of action.