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Google Algorithm Mayhem: How to Prepare for Future Google Core Algorithm Updates
Google Algorithm Mayhem: How to Prepare for Future Google Core Algorithm Updates

If you've got a website, blog, or online business, you're probably all too familiar with the term "Google algorithm updates." For many, the mere mention of a new algorithm rollout can cause heart palpitations.

Why? Well, these updates can significantly impact a site’s SEO ranking, traffic, and ultimately, its bottom line. But fret not, friend! There’s order in the chaos of Google’s algorithm changes, and with the right strategies, you can not only adapt but thrive with each new update.

Understanding the Algorithm Update Ecosystem

Google deploys thousands of algorithm updates each year. Most are minor tweaks, but a few times annually, Google launches "core updates" that can have a significant impact on search results.

These core updates are designed to improve the relevancy and quality of search results for users. However, they can leave website owners scrambling as their rankings make wild shifts. Let;s take a look at some of these prominent updates:

1. October 2023 Update - "Semantic Search Enhancement":

  • This update introduced significant changes to Google's understanding of search queries and content semantics. Google aimed to improve the accuracy of search results by better understanding the context and intent behind user queries.
  • The update focused on enhancing natural language processing (NLP) capabilities, allowing Google to interpret search queries in a more nuanced manner. This enabled the search engine to provide more relevant results, even for complex or ambiguous queries.
  • Website owners and digital marketers had to adapt their SEO strategies to align with Google's evolving understanding of semantic search. Emphasis was placed on creating content that not only targeted specific keywords but also addressed the underlying intent and context of user queries.

2. March 2024 Update - "Holistic Website Evaluation":

  • The March 2024 update represented a shift towards a more holistic approach to evaluating website quality and relevance. Instead of focusing solely on individual pages or content pieces, Google began considering the overall authority and trustworthiness of entire websites.
  • This update placed greater emphasis on factors such as domain authority, site-wide content quality, and overall user experience. Websites with a strong overall reputation and a well-rounded approach to content creation were rewarded in search rankings.

  • Digital marketers had to reassess their SEO strategies to ensure that all aspects of their websites contributed to a positive user experience and demonstrated experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T) across the board.

Both updates underscored Google's ongoing efforts to refine its search algorithms and deliver more accurate, relevant, and trustworthy search results to users. Website owners and digital marketers faced the challenge of adapting to these changes, requiring a deeper understanding of semantic search principles, as well as a comprehensive approach to website optimization that goes beyond individual pages or keywords.

By staying informed about these updates and focusing on providing value to users, businesses could navigate the complexities of SEO in an ever-evolving digital landscape.

What Drives These Updates?

At the core of Google's algorithm updates is the company's unwavering commitment to improving user experience. Google aims to ensure that users not only find what they are looking for quickly and efficiently but also trust the credibility of the information presented.

This commitment drives Google to continuously refine its algorithms, focusing on the relevance, reliability, and quality of search results. Factors such as the exponential growth of online content, evolving user search behaviors, and the constant advancement in language processing technologies also play a significant role.

By understanding these driving forces, website owners and digital marketers can better anticipate the direction of future updates and adjust their strategies proactively, ensuring that their websites remain aligned with Google's standards for high-quality, relevant, and trustworthy content.

How Updates Affect Businesses?

Every time Google rolls out a major core algorithm update, the ripples are felt across the digital business landscape. For businesses with an online presence, these updates can bring about significant fluctuations in search engine rankings.

A boost in rankings can lead to increased visibility, more organic traffic, and potential revenue growth. Conversely, a drop in rankings might result in decreased traffic, lower lead generation, and ultimately, a reduction in earnings.

The direct impact on businesses lies in their website's ability to meet the newly adjusted criteria set forth by Google. For instance, updates focused on enhancing the user experience might penalize sites that are slow to load, not mobile-friendly, or difficult to navigate.

Similarly, updates aiming at improving content quality could affect pages with thin, outdated, or irrelevant content. Businesses relying heavily on search engine visibility for customer acquisition and sales are especially vulnerable to these changes.

Therefore, keeping abreast of these updates and understanding their specific focus areas is crucial for businesses to proactively optimize their websites. This may involve making technical SEO adjustments, improving the quality of content, or enhancing the overall user experience.

By doing so, businesses can not only mitigate potential negative impacts but also capitalize on the opportunities that come with higher rankings in Google's search results.

How These Updates Affect PPC?

While the primary focus of Google’s algorithm updates revolves around organic search results, these changes can also indirectly influence Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising. Firstly, updates that alter the organic search landscape can lead to shifts in user behavior and search trends, which in turn can affect PPC keyword strategies.

Advertisers may find that keywords that previously drove high volumes of traffic through paid search now exhibit different performance metrics due to changes in organic search relevance and user intent understanding.

Furthermore, as organic search results undergo changes in rankings and visibility, businesses might adjust their PPC spending to compensate for losses or gains in organic traffic. For instance, a decrease in organic visibility could lead to an increased reliance on PPC campaigns to maintain web traffic levels, potentially driving up the cost per click (CPC) for highly competitive keywords. Conversely, an improvement in organic rankings might allow businesses to reduce their PPC budgets or reallocate spending to less competitive keywords.

Algorithm updates focusing on enhancing user experience and content relevance can also guide PPC advertisers to optimize their landing pages. High-quality, relevant landing pages are more likely to align with Google’s quality standards, potentially improving the Quality Score of PPC ads and their subsequent performance in terms of lower CPCs and higher ad placements.

In essence, while Google’s algorithm updates target organic search, their wider impact across the search ecosystem necessitates a strategic response from PPC campaigns.

By staying informed about these updates and understanding their broader implications, advertisers can more effectively align their PPC strategies with the evolving digital marketing landscape, ensuring that their paid search efforts complement their organic search ambitions.

Image Source: SimilarWeb

Reacting to Past Core Algorithm Updates

Every webmaster knows the panic of seeing a site's ranking plummet post-update. But by learning from the patterns of past updates, businesses can chart a more predictable course forward.

  • Dissecting the Data: The post-update analysis is critical to understanding why rankings have changed. By examining what types of content and sites have seen upticks or downticks, we can glean insights into what Google is valuing more or less in the algorithm.
  • Strategies for Recovery: If an update has negatively impacted your site, don't despair! There are steps you can take to recover, such as improving the quality of your content, ensuring a great user experience, and building authoritative backlinks from reputable sources.

Proactive Measures for Future-Proof SEO

While hindsight is 20/20, foresight can be equally valuable. Being proactive and knowing how to anticipate these updates is the best defense against future ranking volatility.

1. SEO Best Practices

Keeping abreast of SEO best practices is essential. Regularly update and improve your content, ensure you're providing value to your users, and stay compliant with Google's constantly evolving SEO guidelines.

2. Monitoring Tools and Techniques

Knowledge is power. Use monitoring tools to keep an eye on your website’s performance and study your competitors' strategies. With a finger on the pulse, you can detect changes early and adapt your SEO strategy accordingly.

Diving Deeper Into the Core Updates

To the layperson, a Google core update may sound like an enigma, but with a bit of insight, the methodology behind each update becomes clearer.

What's in a Core?

At the heart of each Google core update is an intricate blend of adjustments aimed at enhancing the way the search engine evaluates and ranks web pages. These updates are not just superficial changes but fundamental shifts intended to refine the search process, making it more intuitive, relevant, and valuable for users. A core update may target various aspects of the search algorithms, including:

  • Quality of Content: Ensuring that high-quality, informative, and user-centric content is ranked higher. Google continuously seeks to reward content that provides real value, in-depth analysis and answers users' questions comprehensively.
  • User Experience (UX): Improving how users interact with websites and their content. Factors such as page load speed, mobile-friendliness, and intuitive navigation are crucial components. Websites that offer a superior user experience are typically favored in search rankings.
  • Relevance of Search Results: Refining the process by which Google determines the relevance of a page to a user's query. This includes better understanding the intent behind searches and matching them to the most appropriate content.
  • Security and Trustworthiness: Promoting safe web environments by prioritizing websites that are secure (HTTPS) and those that demonstrate credibility and trustworthiness. This aspect has become increasingly important, as users demand more secure and reliable sources of information.
  • E-E-A-T (Experience-Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness): Evaluating the credibility of content creators, the quality of the content, and the overall reputation of the website. Google aims to surface content that has been created by knowledgeable authors and is hosted on authoritative websites.

Understanding these core components allows webmasters and SEO professionals to better align their online strategies with Google's objectives.

Rather than chasing after each update post-announcement, focusing on these foundational elements enables the creation of resilient, future-proof digital properties that can withstand the test of Google's algorithmic evolutions.

The Aftermath

After a Google core algorithm update is fully rolled out, the aftermath for many businesses and website owners can range from exhilarating climbs in rankings to heart-wrenching drops. The digital landscape becomes a flurry of analysis as each entity tries to decipher the impact on its online presence.

For those who find their sites on the favorable side of the update, it’s a time for celebration and reinforcement of effective strategies. Conversely, for those who face declines, it becomes a critical period of reassessment and swift action to realign with Google's revised standards.

This phase is crucial for learning, adaptation, and deploying recovery strategies that are often shared within the SEO community, fostering a culture of knowledge exchange and mutual support.

In this environment, the aftermath isn't just about dealing with the consequences but also about seizing the opportunity to improve and innovate SEO practices for better resilience against future updates.

Analyzing and understanding the specific changes that take place on your site and across the web is crucial. After each update, data will become available on high-level patterns, changes to specific keyword rankings, and competitor fluctuations, all of which can inform your subsequent strategy.

Long-Term Strategies For Google Algorithm Resilience

Keeping your site resilient against Google's algorithm updates shouldn't involve black hat tricks or shady techniques. Instead, it's about building a robust foundation through genuine, long-term strategies.

1. Focusing on Evergreen Content

Content that remains relevant and informative months and years after its publication is a form of future-proofing. Focus on creating high-quality, evergreen content that addresses the core needs and questions of your audience.

2. User-Centric Experiences

Google's aim is to provide the best experience for its users, so make sure that user experience on your site is top-notch. This includes fast load times, mobile responsiveness, and clear navigation pathways for your visitors.

3. Adaptable SEO Tactics

In the constantly changing landscape of search engine optimization, flexibility and adaptability are key to maintaining strong search rankings in the face of Google's algorithm updates. Successful SEO strategies must be dynamic, and capable of quick adjustments to accommodate new standards and practices. Below are several adaptable SEO tactics that can help websites stay competitive and resilient.

  • Continuous Learning and Updating: Stay informed about the latest SEO trends, Google's algorithm updates, and best practices through credible SEO news sources, forums, and Google's official communications. This proactive approach allows for timely adjustments to your SEO strategy.
  • Quality Over Quantity: Focusing on high-quality, engaging, and valuable content rather than a high volume of low-quality posts. Google's algorithms continue to evolve in sophistication, increasingly able to discern content quality and relevance to user queries.
  • Enhance User Engagement: Implement features and content that enhance user engagement, such as videos, interactive tools, and infographics. Increased user interaction signals to Google that your content is valuable and relevant, contributing positively to your site's rankings.
  • Technical SEO Audit and Optimization: Regularly auditing your website for technical SEO issues (such as broken links, slow page load times, and mobile usability) and correcting them promptly ensures that technical barriers do not impede user experience or search engine crawlability.
  • Structured Data Markup: Utilize schema markup to help search engines understand the context of your content more effectively. This can enhance search visibility through rich snippets and improve how your content is represented in search results.
  • Link Building and Outreach: Focus on acquiring high-quality backlinks through genuine relationships, guest blogging, and producing shareable content. Backlinks remain a strong ranking signal, indicative of your site's authority and relevance.
  • Social Media Presence: Though not a direct ranking factor, a strong social media presence can amplify your content's reach and engagement, indirectly affecting your site's performance in search results by increasing traffic and relevancy signals.
  • Mobile Optimization: Prioritize mobile usability to match Google's mobile-first indexing. Ensure your website offers an excellent experience on mobile devices, considering the majority of users now access the internet via smartphones.

Implementing these adaptable SEO tactics can create a robust foundation for your website, making it capable of not just surviving but thriving through Google's algorithm updates. Focus on creating a seamless, engaging user experience and providing genuine value through your content, and your SEO strategy will be equipped to adapt to future changes in the digital landscape.

Integrating with a reputable partner like DashClicks can significantly amplify the SEO capabilities of agencies looking to expand their offerings without the overhead of additional in-house resources.

DashClicks' white-label SEO services are designed to be seamlessly integrated into an agency's existing portfolio, allowing them to offer comprehensive SEO solutions to their clients under their own brand name.

This approach not only enables agencies to scale their operations efficiently but also ensures that they can provide top-tier SEO services, including keyword research, on-page optimization, link-building strategies, and detailed performance analytics. What sets DashClicks apart is its commitment to transparency and results, providing agencies with detailed reporting tools and dashboards that offer real-time insights into campaign performance.

This ensures that agencies can maintain close oversight of their SEO projects, fostering trust and reliability with their clients.

Final Thoughts: The SEO Landscape is Ever-Changing

While Google's algorithm updates can be a source of anxiety, they also present an opportunity for growth. By understanding the purpose behind these changes and adjusting our SEO strategies accordingly, we can pave the way for a more resilient and successful online presence.

Stay informed, stay innovative, and stay focused on the needs of your audience. With these principles, future algorithm updates won't be feared but met with confidence and the ability to rise to the top of the search ranks.

Take Your SEO to the Next Level With DashClicks!
How to Hack Google: The Ultimate Google Algorithm Cheat Sheet
How to Hack Google: The Ultimate Google Algorithm Cheat Sheet

If you are a marketer trying to retain a solid Google ranking, the changes that Google constantly makes to its algorithm can really bug you at times. But, fret not! We can help you hack the Google algorithm. Yes, you heard it right.

Before we show you how to do it, let’s learn more about Google’s algorithms to develop a better understanding of things.

Google’s algorithms are defined as a complex system that retrieves data from its search index, and immediately delivers the best results possible for a query.

If you take a look at the history of Google algorithm updates, Google only made a few changes in its early years. But that’s not the case now! Google makes a plethora of changes to its algorithms every year.

Now, you may wonder how often Google algorithm changes are released. Google makes minor changes to its algorithm daily. It can even release a number of updates in a day. However, you won’t notice a drop in search engine page rankings due to these minor changes alone. The core updates are the ones you should look out for, as they can directly affect your page performance. These are the significant changes that Google makes a few times a year.

Key Google Algorithm Updates

Let’s discuss some important historical Google Algorithm updates for you to easily fathom the function of Google algorithm changes:

1. Google Panda

Released in 2011, Google Panda targeted bad practices like duplicate content and keyword stuffing. It introduced a “quality score.”

The score helped in ranking web pages not based on the number of keywords the content had, but on how individuals would perceive the content.

As a result of this update, marketers wrote quality, educational content. They also rewrote the articles which underperformed and used keywords in a strategic manner.

2. Google Penguin

Introduced in 2012, Google Penguin combated black hat SEO tactics like spammy backlinks and link directories. This update also focused on keyword stuffing.

The aim was to move towards high-quality content with only engaging, valuable links and move away from the focus on link volume to increase the search ranking of a page.

3. Google Hummingbird

Released in 2013, the goal of this update was to humanize the search engine experience and take the most informative, relevant content to the 1st page.

As a result of the update, marketers started using more keyword variations as well as relevant search phrases to fulfill the reader’s expectations.

4. Google RankBrain

RankBrain, a Hummingbird extension, was released in 2015. It promotes the most relevant as well as informative content for a search phrase or keyword.

To pass RankBrain, you must research the user intent behind all the keywords individuals search for and write quality, rich content in order to fulfill their expectations.

Now that we know all the important information about Google’s Algorithms, let’s begin our Google algorithm cheat sheet.

Things to Know About Google Algorithm’s Ranking Factors

We don’t know about Google Algorithm’s top ranking factors as they are not revealed to us. No one is entirely sure how to achieve the first-page ranking. However, there are certain ranking factors we do know, such as:

  • Content Relevance: You must not stuff your site with keywords. You should use some relevant keywords and create content around them. The content should hold relevance as well.
  • Page Speed: We all know that slow-loading websites do not offer a good user experience. 47% of users expect not more than 2 seconds of loading time for an average website. Google updates with page speed may negatively impact you if your site loads slowly.
  • Website Design: Ensure your site is easy to navigate and user-friendly.
  • User Engagement: Google may impact sites with high bounce rates and few visitors returning.
  • HTTPS Status: Usually, Google prefers sites that are more trustworthy. HTTPS is more secure than HTTP. Hence, having an SSL certificate will benefit you.
  • Mobile-Friendliness: For ranking and indexing, Google uses your website’s mobile version. Hence, mobile-friendliness is also another ranking factor you should definitely consider.

After discussing the above factors, you can observe one thing Google algorithm boosts the websites that provide the best user experience to people. If the latest website statistics are to be believed, 88% of online consumers are less likely to revisit a website if they have had a bad experience.

Listen Up: Users take only about 0.05 seconds to form an opinion in their minds about your site. Hence, it is important to have an SEO-friendly and mobile-friendly website. We all know that building an SEO-friendly, mobile-friendly, professional niche-based website can take many days.

But, if you use DashClicks’ Site tool, you can make an SEO-friendly, mobile-friendly, custom-branded agency website in just a few seconds. A great way to impress your prospects, isn’t it?

Create Your Dream Website Within Seconds

How to Know if a New Algorithm Update Comes Up?

You don't have to track each and every tweak Google does to its algorithm. But, it is highly important to track core updates so that you can accordingly adapt your SEO strategy.

To know about algorithm changes, set up a Google Alert. With Google Alerts, you will get an inbox notification whenever there are online mentions of algorithm updates. We recommend you do this step as it helps you prepare for the changes without wasting any time.

Another thing you can do is to follow Google SearchLiaison on Twitter. On this official account, you will be able to see core algorithm update notifications. By following this account, you can know more about how the algorithm updates can impact you. Another benefit of following this account is that you get to know about the planned improvements to Google that can aid you in improving your SEO strategy as well.

Google SearchLiasion Twitter

We also recommend you use Google Analytics to see algorithm changes. Wondering how it can help? You can recognize unusual fluctuations in conversions and traffic with it. Plus, you can look at your performance closely and see if a Google algorithm change has impacted you.

Lastly, we also recommend you try an algorithm analytics tool called Grump by Accuranker. Grump keeps track of the changes made to the Google algorithm daily.

How to Know Which Google Algorithm Update Hit Your Site?

If you notice a steep decline in traffic recently, an algorithm change could be the reason behind it. To know which update hit your site and how to recover from its penalties, we recommend you do the following:

  1. Check out Google Search Central as a first step. It has various resources to help you find common performance issues and recognize possible algorithm penalties.
  2. After this, you can log on to a free analytics tool by Google called Search Console. It contains the resources you need to check your website’s performance, recognize mobile usability issues, etc.

How to Tackle Google’s Algorithm?

These tips can help you succeed with Google’s algorithm and boost your page rankings:

1. Optimize for Mobile

In order to boost your page rankings, you must optimize your site for mobile. We recommend that you visit Mobile-Friendly Test to check how your site appears on mobile devices. All you need to do is input your URL and go through the results.

Mobile-Friendly Test

2. Increase User Engagement

If there is a high bounce rate even if you are getting high traffic volumes, it is time to change your approach. We recommend you focus on user engagement. Concentrate on doing quality keyword research (so that you answer the right search intent). Also, we suggest you write trustworthy content on your website to engage users for an extended period of time.

3. Reduce Site Load Time

A poorly loading website can affect the user experience, negatively impacting your Google rankings. To take care of this, you can check your page loading times with the help of Google's PageSpeed Insights tool as a first step. After you do this, Google gives you specific tips for increasing page speed. Make it a point to go through them as well.

PageSpeed Insights Tool

4. Check Your Inbound Links

Audit your inbound links. Ask yourself a question - Do they link to up-to-date, relevant content and work properly? If not, make it a point to fix the links and make sure they are redirecting to posts that are useful. Remember, good quality inbound links can increase your rankings.

5. Avoid Duplicate Content

An important thing you should remember is that having duplicate content on site can get you penalized. To check for duplicate content, use the Duplicate Page Finder. Enter the URLs you wish to compare, see the results, and make the necessary changes. You can also visit Siteliner to check if anyone else is using your content on their website.

6. Don't Over-Optimize

We all know that SEO matters, but you must not go overboard. Don't put irrelevant, unrelated links in your content, don't purchase links, and don't over-optimize your anchor texts.

Also, stay clear of aggressive link-building practices as well as black hat tactics.

7. Create Useful, Informative Content

If a person clicks on your site and stays on it, Google sees that you have probably provided an answer to the search query of the user. This means you are producing informative and useful content.

Creating this type of content will reward you with higher page rankings.

8. Don't Do Keyword Stuffing

Remain on the good side of Google and don't do keyword stuffing. You don't want to create content that is difficult and distracting to read, do you?

Avoid Keyword Stuffing

To avoid keyword stuffing, just use a keyword naturally within the text, and you are set!

9. Enhance Page Security

In case you have not moved from HTTP to HTTPS, we recommend you do it now. As mentioned before, HTTPS sites are more trustworthy. Google rewards higher rankings to trustworthy sites, so it is worth the effort.

10. Enhance Site Navigation

Make the user experience one of your priorities by:

  • Creating a site map
  • Streamlining website menus
  • Making sure your navigation links work
How to Design an Engaging Website

Wrapping It Up

It's important to keep in mind that the Google algorithm changes from time to time and it can directly impact your SEO strategy. Whenever Google makes the announcement of its next core update, ensure you know how it can affect your page rankings.

Bottom line, we recommend that you concentrate on creating valuable, rich content for users, fix broken links, remove low-quality backlinks and replace them with fresh ones, and move from HTTP to HTTPS if you haven't already.

Now it's our turn to ask a question - how do you keep track of Google algorithm changes?

Explaining Google's November 2021 Core Update
Explaining Google's November 2021 Core Update

On November 17, 2021, we saw the release of the latest Google core update. Google advised that it will take approximately two weeks to see the full changes in effect.

According to preliminary assessments, it's very probable that you are now seeing a notable change in your site ranking. Before you panic, it's important to understand what these Google core updates aim to achieve as well as the ranking volatility that we typically see after an update.

Let's jump right in.

What is a Google Core Algorithm Update?

A Google Core Algorithm Update is a significant update that dictates changes to how Google's search engine algorithm qualifies and ranks websites for search engine results pages.

While Google releases minor updates throughout the year, they officially announce and name these updates for the public. Veteran SEOs typically plan for these major changes as they can have a significant impact on page rankings.

The main hurdle with this is that Google is always keen to withhold explicit information regarding the changes. This makes sense as understanding these direct ranking factors can potentially result in practices that abuse the ranking system and worsen the user experience.

On the other hand, those that experience significant changes in ranking may find themselves panicking following an update. Even though the specific changes are kept close to the chest, these are the ranking factors that we do know go into search rankings:

  • Technical SEO factors (page speed, mobile-friendliness, navigation, etc.)
  • Backlink profile
  • HTTP vs HTTPS
  • Individual page ranking
  • Content with EAT factors
  • Search query relevance

With these factors in mind, let's take a look at how the latest Core Update continues to affect search result rankings.

SERP Volatility Changes Following the Latest Google Core Update

Any fluctuations to Google's search engine result pages are typically referred to as SERP volatility. We can utilize volatility scores to gauge how impactful a Google Core Update is on a website's SEO and rankings.

We could see evidence of preliminary changes before the November 17 update announcement. SERP volatility was at a 5.5 and 5.6 volatility rating for the 16th and 17th of the month. The most significant changes were observed on the 18th where the volatility rating peaked at 9.3/10. These metrics are courtesy of the SEMRush Sensor.

SEMRush Sensor in November 2021

It's also important to note that following the spike the volatility rating mostly returned to stability. This is a typical occurrence of events following a major core update. The site RankRanger corroborates these metrics with their Rank Risk Index. You can also compare this Core Update to the smaller Anti-Spam update that went out earlier this month between the 3rd and the 5th.

Google Desktop SERP Fluctuations in Last 30 Days

Volatility by Industry Category

While the above examines how the update impacts all search results, let's take a closer look at specific industries that appear to be experiencing the greatest effects.

SERP Volatility in Last 30 Days

While most industries are now back to a normal, stable score, shopping continues to trend higher on the volatility scale. While the initial peak was the same, we can see a higher average for the entire month with another big peak around the 25th. This perfectly coincides with the inevitable e-commerce rush for Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Sistrix also reports that dictionaries and informational websites like Wikipedia were some of the update's biggest winners. This is not necessarily surprising as Google consistently calls for improved content to protect your site rankings. This change may also indicate a need for sites to provide lean, direct answers and definitions to user questions as opposed to opinion-based responses.

Other industries that received notable impacts equivalent to this are arts & entertainment, games, and sports. Health, in particular, saw notable fluctuations which are likely tied to Google's ongoing effort to battle misinformation regarding COVID-19 and related variants.

All remaining industries experienced some light fluctuations with the same overall peaks and valleys, but have since stabilized and demonstrate normal activity.

Important Note - SEMRush's volatility scores are relative to previous periods of stability. Therefore, you should not compare Core Updates one-to-one as peaks and dips are defined by their relationship to the immediate trends that preceded the changes.

How Do I Know if the Latest Google Core Update Affects My Site?

There are two primary metrics to keep an eye on before and following a Google Core Update:-

Did Your Search Rankings Change?

The primary way to determine if a Google Core Update is a cause for concern is to examine your latest search rankings.

There is no set expectation for how greatly your search ranking may change following an update. If your website does not pertain to industry from the discussion above, your changes are likely mild. However, a shopping website that's regularly updated with SEO best practices may even experience significant ranking boosts in time for the holiday season.

However, this is unlikely to change too much as SEMRush's report indicates that just 16.19% of the top twenty websites were new results. 83.81% of the URLs were present before the algorithmic update.

Did Your Daily Site Traffic Decrease?

This metric typically coincides with your organic search rankings. A sudden and obvious decrease in daily web traffic is a sign that the update impacted your website's visibility in SERPs. If your result is now further down or has been relegated to the second page, it makes sense for your traffic to take a dip.

Per Google's tweet, it typically takes up to two weeks for a new algorithmic change to fully take effect. As we are nearing two weeks exactly, it's likely that any traffic changes you see now are here to stay. However, because we can never know the fine details, we are left to Google's advice on how to recover rankings when updates happen.

How Can I Reclaim Lost Search Rankings Following a Google Core Update?

Google Search Central emphasizes the importance of quality website content when it comes to determining rankings. It's also important to understand that a sudden drop in rankings following an update doesn't mean that your content is poor or that your SEO strategy does not work.

The potential impact of Google Core Updates is further explained by Danny Sullivan, Google's Search Laison:

Danny Sullivan Tweet on November Update

Google goes on to explain that major algorithmic changes primarily serve to deliver the best content possible to its users. With that in mind, website owners need to step back and review all of their website offerings. Instead of exclusively reviewing what is wrong with your site (which may be nothing), it's important to review the content on sites that now rank higher.

1. Focus on the Principles of EAT

EAT stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. These are the tenets of excellent content according to Google's guidelines. To honestly evaluate your content for search rankings, you must ensure that it adequately adheres to these principles.

Content that ranks higher features a level of superior authority on the subject that makes it more valuable than other offerings. It provides a unique level of insight that other results simply cannot or do not provide. If you find that your content falls into the trappings of being the same old or expected material, a new update may finally deem that content as less valuable than others.

2. Create Content in Adherence with the Google Quality Rater's Guidelines

Google also readily provides its Quality Rater's Guidelines to inform website owners of how a page's content receives its rating.

This PDF booklet dictates how to define quality content, how to properly outline your site for navigation, and how to communicate a positive reputation to users. It also provides guidelines for best practices on how to keep advertisements appropriately separated from the main content.

Use this step-by-step checklist to review every webpage on your website. If you wish to solve the problem of decreased rankings, you need to be willing to assess your content's quality honestly. So long as your content strictly adheres to Google's quality control rules and meets the needs of your visitors, you can be confident that content quality is not negatively impacting your rankings.

3. Use Analytics Tools to Identify Existing Issues

If you're not already, you should take advantage of free analytics tools for SEO such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

All you need to do is verify ownership of your business and domain with Google. Once you're ready, you can gain critical feedback regarding errors that are present on your website. It will also inform you whether or not your site violates any guidelines that can substantially impact your search rankings.

This is critical following an update as there is always the possibility that new rules are now in effect. The good news is that quickly identifying and resolving known issues can quickly help you move back up in SERPs.

While these tools are commonly utilized to improve site vitals, you can also use the feedback to determine potential content problems with specific website pages. Website pages with poor content will feature a poor page rank, which can hurt the great work you provide on other pages of your website. It will be necessary to improve these pages or delete them from your site entirely to avoid penalties to your rank.

4. Keep it Up to Date

A Google Core Update can directly influence how search engine algorithms interpret website content. Therefore, it makes sense that you should regularly update existing content to keep up with new data and trends.

It's essential for your content team to consistently revisit existing pages on the site even when they perform well. Information is not immutable and it's very easy to lose page rank as a result of being old or outdated. Making the effort to refresh existing pages and direct visitors to important updates can help you gain extra mileage out of already excellent content.

Be advised that content updates are not only important for providing up-to-date data, but for improving the presentation of said information. As per Google's admission, it's not that your page is doing something wrong, but rather that another page is now doing it better. Consider how you can utilize your expertise and authority to improve a page's content since the time of its initial creation.

Conclusion - Don't Panic and Stay On Course with Your SEO!

It can be frustrating to keep pace with Google's core algorithmic updates. It's even more frustrating to suddenly feel penalized for months of otherwise quality SEO work.

However, it's important to know that every website owner on Google experiences the same challenges. A sudden shift in rankings following a core update is not necessarily a sign that your SEO is in the gutter, but rather that there is an opportunity to improve your site further.

Stay on course with your SEO strategy and use our feedback to discover opportunities for further improvement. Additionally, you should follow Google Search Central's primary website and social accounts to stay up-to-date for when a new update will appear.

New updates occur roughly every three months, which provides you with ample time to clean up your SEO and get your site in order. Strictly adhering to Google's best practices is the best way to protect your website rankings in future updates.

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What Google's Past Algorithm Updates Can Teach You About SEO
What Google's Past Algorithm Updates Can Teach You About SEO

Google algorithm updates are considered something that marketers are always wary of. So, every time Google rolls out an algorithm update, they become nervous and have no option but to roll with the punches. However, Google releases hundreds of minor adjustments and a few significant tweaks to its algorithm every year.

In this article, we will discuss your ideal strategy in the wake of such updates so that it does not affect your traffic and rankings. We will also explain how you can use past algorithm updates to understand the current trends and deal with them.

In the past decade, the core objective of Google algorithm updates was to prevent manipulation of search engine algorithms by unscrupulous companies, so only the relevant sites may appear on the top SERPs resulting in a better search experience for the users.

What Are Google Algorithm Updates?

Now that Google has taken search experience to the next level, the search engine not only wants its users to get relevant results for their search queries, but it also wants them to be happy with the websites appearing on top of SERPs.

The focus of the previous updates used to be:

  1. Up-to-date, unique, and relevant content
  2. Trustworthiness of the website
  3. Link quality
  4. User experience (download speed, ease of navigation, and glitch-free checkouts, etc.)

It usually affects how a web page ranks on Google.

Google also wants to make sure its users love the content and their overall experience on the website.

So, all the authoritativeness and the backlinks are useless if the website doesn't offer a good user experience. So, for better or worse, The focus is now shifting towards user experience.

It's crucial to know since we want our readers not just to be ready for a particular update to be rolled out in the future but any algorithm update that Google may announce in the forthcoming years.

Apart from the regular algorithm updates, Google announces some sweeping updates every year to prepare proactively and update their websites accordingly.

Google's Algorithm Updates Infographic

A Brief Overview of Previous Google Algorithm Updates

Let's discuss some significant algorithm updates that changed many practices and changed the landscape of SEO across the web world.

1. Google Panda Update

The first serious update that shook the web world was the Panda, which Google announced in 2011. It was aimed at penalizing poor-quality content that offered very little value and was overstuffed with keywords.

Now, let's discuss the context of this update. Google announced this update at a time when most companies engaged in content farming. It was all about poor-quality content created for search engines. It mainly was irrelevant, least helpful for the users, and keyword stuffed. The aim of writing such articles was to game the search engine algorithms to win top rankings. As soon as Google decided to deal with this sneaky practice, Panda was rolled out to penalize those sites.

The timeline for the Panda algorithm update indicates that Google targeted thin content, high ad to content ratio, and various other quality issues. Google rolled it out in a phased manner in different countries, and finally, in September 2012, Panda #20 was announced, which was a significant update, affecting 2.4% of the queries.

Again in May 2014, Google announced a major Panda update that affected 7.5% of English language queries, and with these updates, Google almost tackled duplicate and poor quality content. Digital marketing teams across the globe started creating high-quality content that offers real value to the users. With this, the nefarious practice of keyword stuffing took a back seat and was replaced with the natural inclusion of relevant keywords.

2. Penguin Update

Google announced the Penguin update just a year after Panda was first rolled out in 2011, but its aim was entirely different. It was launched to deal with another significant menace in the web world— artificial link building used as a “hack” to win top ranks.

You must be familiar with the fact that Google has been taking backlinks as a sign of authority, popularity, and trustworthiness of a site since its inception. It openly uses it as a ranking signal.

Some unscrupulous webmasters decided to take advantage and started using it as a hack to rank on top manipulating Google's love for backlinks. Low quality and spammy backlinks led to reduced search results on Google as low-quality websites started ranking high. Google took it head-on with the Penguin update and started penalizing the sites involved in this practice. Soon a significant shift happened, and business owners and webmasters started tracking their links and removing low-quality, irrelevant and spammy links.

3. The Hummingbird Update

Google announced the Hummingbird update to provide a better experience to the searcher by showing the related results. For example, if someone searched for “small business,” Google will use different search intents to show the results. So, the results may include websites offering small business loans, business consultancy and networking services, small business ideas, small business trends, and government websites that connect entrepreneurs with lenders. For example, if you run a cake shop, you can optimize your website for the following keywords:

  • Cakeshop
  • Bakery
  • Cupcakes
  • Cheesecake
  • Birthday cake
  • Vegan bakery
  • Italian bakery
  • Sweetshop
  • Pastry shop

Even though the results don’t look like an exact match to your queries, they are relevant and valuable for the searcher. So, this up-date expected marketers to focus on related keywords as well apart from the main keywords.

How to Proactively Prepare Yourself Against Future Algorithm Updates?

If you want to keep your website “update proof” and don’t want to lose out on traffic because of every damn update, the best strategy is to learn from the past updates.

Here are a few tips you can proactively use to protect your website against any future algorithm updates:

1. Understand the Basics of Google Algorithm Updates

You can understand the central objective of Google update, and to a great extent, it was explained by Ben Gomes, Google’s Vice-President of Engineering, “our goal is to get you the exact answer you’re searching for faster.”

So, relevancy, accuracy, and rapidity are what Google wants to achieve with these updates. It makes understanding the search intent of the user essential. Marketers should focus on relevance and user experience, and it will cover almost everything Google expects from your website.

So, let’s begin with user experience. First, check how long it takes for your website to load. Have a look at the navigation. Is it user-friendly? Can you get to the sections you need to go in a maximum of three clicks? Are too many ads bothering you or preventing you from seeing the content on your web pages?

The recent changes made to Google’s algorithm point that sites with poor user experience will also get penalized regardless of other factors that might have propelled them to the top ranks.

2. Optimize UX

As per a shocking study by Google, as page load time increases from one to 10 seconds, the bounce rate of a mobile site visitor may go up by 123%. So, if you are serious about retaining visitors to your site, you should minimize the page load time.

Reducing the number of ads, especially near the critical navigation buttons, is also a good way of optimizing the UX. It would help if you kept in mind that users won't close the three random ads and would instead close the website and move to another site.

How to Identify That a Google Algorithm Update Has Affected Your Site?

Here's a checklist you can follow to determine whether your website has been affected by a recent Google algorithm update:

1. Track Google Updates

Keep on tracking Google updates and find out if there have been any recently. Most Google algorithm updates that occur almost daily are industry-specific and their effect only in specific industry verticals. Their objective is to improve the search results. Specific algorithm updates are also referred to as core updates on the flip side, and these updates happen several times a year.

If you want to know about the latest algorithm updates and how they can affect your website, check out Moz’s list of Google algorithm updates. The following screenshot explains the updates that happened in 2021 and how they impacted search results. For example, the latest update was detected by many SEO tools in February 2021, and it was named “Featured Snippets Drop.” Its likely impact was that Google Search started showing featured snippets less often (SEL).

Moz's list of Google algorithm updates

2. Wait For the Dust to Settle

Don't panic as soon as you sense an update taking place. Let the dust settle down, which takes around a week. It would help if you didn't react to things in the meantime. Once the data stops fluctuating, you can initiate the repair. You can refer to Google Analytics and Google Search Console after that and take cues from these channels.

3. Check Google Analytics

Now it's time to get back to Google Analytics and Google Search Console and choose different date ranges to see any traffic fluctuations. To access Search Console via GA, go to Acquisition > Search Console

Sometimes, this fluctuation can be due to an external factor such as running an email or any other promotion campaign, or a big event or holiday, so you should choose a broader date range.

If you see an overall decline in your traffic or a sharp drop in your organic sessions or leads, it can be due to a Google algorithm update.

4. Check It Across Different Landing Pages

Log in to Your Site's Google Analytics Account > Go to Acquisition > Search Console > Landing Pages

If traffic drop is sitewide, it could be due to an algorithm update.

Website Traffic Drop

Similarly, you can also check it across different devices.

Acquisition > Search Console > Devices > Click on Mobile

Usually, a sitewide traffic drop is a strong indication that your website has been affected by an algorithm update.

5. Perform the Preliminary Assessment: Check Google

There is another method that you can try with ease. If you feel that your website has been affected by an update, check the search landscape on Google. Also, check the current position of your website as compared to your competition:

a. Is there a significant change in the positions?
b. Which site is ranking at the position your site used to rank before?
c. Are you still ranking but in no-click search results, snippets, or paid ads?
d. Compare the rankings of your web pages to those that are now ranking well. Compare the keywords you are targeting versus them? Find out if they are using any keyword variations or content strategies?
e. Have they implemented any specific landing page strategies you haven’t tried so far which may help you boost your rankings?

6. Check Your Backlinks Profile

Sometimes you may notice a drop in traffic due to the presence of spammy links. As Google may penalize your site anytime if they detect spammy links, it's essential to check your backlink profile regularly. You can use Google Search Console for auditing your backlinks. You can also manage your backlink profile and improve the overall health of your backlinks through GSC.

Here is the step-by-step process of checking your backlink profile using SEO SpyGlass and Google Search Control:

A. Get the comprehensive list of your backlinks

Open SEO SpyGlass and enter your domain name. SEO SpyGlass provides a comprehensive list of backlinks as it uses its own index to find backlinks.

New Backlink Research Project

For better results, you can sync your Google Analytics and Google Search Console account with SEO SpyGlass. To do this, put a tick in front of the Enable Expert Options line, and click Next.

New Backlink Research SpyGlass

You can also turn it on using the “Preferences drop-down” menu of the tool.

Connect GSC in SEO SpyGlass

Once Google Analytics and GSC are connected to the tool, it will start retrieving the backlink data. However, the process may take some time.

B. Identify potentially harmful backlinks

Google ignores occasional bad backlinks, but an overwhelming number of suspicious backlinks may attract a manual penalty. Here is how to identify toxic backlinks.

In the tool, Go to Backlink Profile and then click the Penalty Risk section from the drop-down menu. On this screen, the tool will provide you with the estimated penalty risk for the backlink domains.

A backlink with a penalty risk of over 70% is considered a harmful and high-risk backlink. These are marked red, and you should remove those backlinks.

C. Remove toxic backlinks

The best option to remove toxic backlinks to your website is to disavow them. You can do it with the help of the Google Disavow tool. Google wants you to use this tool to inform them that these backlinks should be ignored when assessing your site for ranking purposes.

To do it, create a “disavow” file where you can collect all the toxic links and submit this file to the Google Disavow tool.

If you are using SEO SpyGlass, select the backlinks you want to remove and choose the Disavow backlinks option by right-clicking on it.

Disavow Backlinks in SpyGlass

Export the file from the tool and submit it to the Google Disavow tool as we did it previously.

You may not notice any immediate impact of this activity on your backlink profile, but Google will soon start ignoring these backlinks.

You should frequently do a backlink health check for your website and remove toxic and harmful links this way.

7. Keep Google’s Resolution and Mission Statement in Mind

As emphasized above, Google wants to offer the best user experience and exact search results faster. So, if you notice a drop in rankings or traffic, check whether your website provides:

a. Excellent user experience
b. Great and compelling content
c. Excellent usability

8. Use External Google Algorithm Update Trackers

To keep yourself abreast with the latest Google algorithm updates, you may refer to the following trackers.

A. Moz Update History: This list is maintained by none other than SEO guru Rand Fishkin’s Moz. It’s a comprehensive and up-to-date list of algorithm updates so that you can identify the trend.

B. Google Webmaster Central Blog: Monitor this resource to stay updated on the latest algorithm updates, straight from Google.

C. SEJ’s Google Algorithm History: Search Engine Journals’ Google algorithm history provides you a sneak peek into the latest as well as previous updates. You can also see the updates using filters such as the year an update happened.

D. Twitter: After Matt Cutts, the most reliable source of getting information about algorithm updates and Google’s “insider information” is Twitter. Apart from Google, you can follow the likes of:

a. Danny Sullivan: @dannysullivan and @searchliaison
b. John Mueller: @JohnMu
c. Barry Schwartz @rustybrick
d. Marie Haynes @Marie_Haynes

E. SEO Tools: Apart from that, you can use the following tools to track Google algorithm updates:

a. Mozcast
b. SEMrush Sensor
c. Rank Ranger Rank Risk Index Tool
d. Accuranker ‘Grump’ Rating
e. Algoroo
f. Penguin Tool

How to Recover If Your Website Has Been Penalized by a Google Algorithm Update?

If you feel that your site has been penalized following an algorithm update, here is the step-by-step approach to recover and reclaim your lost rankings:

1. Audit Your Website and Find Its Cause

As explained above, check all previous updates and trends through update trackers, and identify what might have gone wrong. There can be several reasons for a penalty, such as —— duplicate or poor quality content, spammy and irrelevant backlinks (backlinks from other niches and industries), keyword abuse, poor navigation, poor user experience, and site usability issues, etc.

Visit Google Webmaster Tools to identify such issues and how to fix them.

2. Make Algorithm-Friendly Changes

Once you identify the possible reasons for a penalty, make algorithm-friendly changes to reclaim your lost rankings. You can remove low-quality spammy backlinks, remove duplicate content, add high-quality content and improve user experience on the site.

3. Improve the User Experience on the Site

You should also pay attention to user experience and related issues such as:

A. Site load speed
B. Poor navigation where it becomes difficult to access the content you are looking for
C. Too many ads that may annoy a visitor
D. Bad layout and website design

FAQs About Google Algorithm Updates

1. What is a Search Engine Algorithm?

The search engine uses a complex system where data from its search index is retrieved to instantly deliver the best possible results for a search term or query. Search engines use algorithms and various ranking factors to return web pages ranked by relevance on their SERPs.

2. How Many Google Algorithm Updates Happen Every Year?

Google changes its algorithm about 500 to a few thousand times per year. However, there are only a few significant updates. Minor updates may not affect your website immediately, but there is always a pattern and trend behind these updates. Therefore it’s crucial to keep an eye on these changes to prevent any penalty.

3. Why Should You Track Google Updates?

If you are a business owner or an SEO expert, you should keep track of small and significant changes that could impact your website so that you can change your SEO strategy and tactics accordingly.

A Google algorithm update can either boost or hurt your:

  • Rankings on SERPs and overall visibility
  • Organic traffic
  • Leads and conversions
  • Revenue

4. What Is the EAT Concept in SEO, and How Is It Related to Search Engine Rankings?

EAT is a popular acronym in SEO that stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

The EAT concept is quite important as, according to Google, it helps them measure the relevance of a website and decide whether to rank it higher or not.

So, always try to publish content written or compiled by an expert and is well-researched. If an authority writes it, it will boost trustworthiness.

For example, have a look at this Therapytribe blog. TherapyTribe is an online directory of psychiatrists, and the content it publishes is created by certified mental health and psychiatry professionals.

What are Bulimia, Anorexia, & Eating Disorders? The article is written by Emily Mendez, M.S., Ed.S., a certified psychotherapist and an expert in mental health and substance abuse cases. It increases the trustworthiness of the website for the website visitors.

The websites with unverified and shallow content are often penalized by Google as the information provided in those websites can be potentially harmful to the readers.

Conclusion

Dealing with thousands of minor and a couple of major algorithm updates every year is not a cakewalk. Still, if you have the right tools such as keyword density checkers, backlink finders, and Google algorithm update trackers mentioned above, it will help you puzzle it out.

Apart from that, tools such as Mozcast, SEMrush Sensor, Rank Ranger Rank Risk Index Tool, Accuranker’ Grump’ Rating, and Algoroo will also be handy.

If your website is affected by a Google algorithm update, go to Moz or SEJ’s trackers mentioned above and study the past algorithm updates to figure out its exact reason.

Use Google Search Central, which was previously known as Google Webmasters’ Tool, to find ways to fix it. You can find many tools and useful study material on GSC. Use it along with the tools listed above, and soon you’ll be on your way to reclaiming your lost rankings and traffic.

If you are an agency and don’t have the required tools and expertise in it, you can hire result-oriented white label SEO services from DashClicks for your clients. It is not only affordable but hassle-free and time-saving too.

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Active Community

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Unlimited Sub-Accounts

Unlimited Users

All Apps

All Features

White-Labeled

Active Community

Mobile App

Live Support

100+ Tutorials