Content & Google
Did you know that Google makes minor changes to its algorithm almost every day? These changes are unlikely to change the rankings of websites or to cause any significant decrease in visibility. But every few months, Google rolls out what they call “core algorithm updates”. How these updates affect search engine results is a huge cause for concern and uncertainty in the SEO community. Google’s May 2020 Algorithm Update was just this type of beast and has been called “an Absolute Monster.”
According to Google:
“Several times a year, we make significant, broad changes to our algorithms and systems. We refer to these as core updates. They are designed to ensure that, overall, we’re delivering on our mission to present relevant and authoritative content to searchers.”
The most recent update, in May 2020, has had far reaching implications for many websites’ visibility and has the SEO community scrambling to understand and react. With some prominent websites reporting a loss of 90% of organic traffic, Mordy Oberstain’s (RankRanger) classification of the update as “An Absolute Monster” does not seem to be an overreach. According to Google, the May 4th board core update was global, not specific to any region, language, or category of websites. Some industries, however, were hit harder than others in relation to rank volatility.
Data published by SEMRUSH showed that the industries hardest hit were:
- Real Estate
- Pets and animals
- People and society
While there is little clarity to be had on what the focus or goal of the most recent update was, Marie Haynes (Marie Haynes Consulting) published the following commentary on May 15th 2020.
“So far, this is shaping up to be an update with widespread effects, possibly even more impactful than the August 1, 2018 Medic update. We had hoped that the main focus of this update would be to help demote sites that were publishing harmful advice relating to COVID-19. While we do feel that Google has reassessed whether they can trust the content of many sites, they appear to have done much much more with this core update.”
According to SEMRUSH:
“The May update is stronger and influences more SERP and positions”
“We can already see that this latest core update seems to be a pretty big one. With the world’s volatility skyrocketing, the newest Google core update seems to bring unprecedented SERP volatility as well.”
Was the update Covid 19 related or was it an effort by Google to shake up SERP results to keep SEO marketers on their toes? Could this possibly increase sales of paid advertising such as Google Ads? Google has not seen fit to share that information with the SEO community. The question on the lips of SEO optimizers is “What do we do now to stay at the top of the SERPs?”
Don’t Try to Fix Wrong Things
With the May 2020 core update, as with previous updates, there are no specific guidelines from Google as to what negatively impacted websites may be doing wrong.
Google advises webmasters not to try and fix the wrong things:
“We know those with sites that experience drops will be looking for a fix, and we want to ensure they don’t try to fix the wrong things. Moreover, there might not be anything to fix at all.”
When websites see a significant drop in Google organic traffic at the same time as an update, SEO experts often try to identify and isolate the smoking gun. However, it’s typically not an obvious fix and making linear connections between a decrease in website visibility and the parameters of a Google core update could be compared to trying to hang onto a slippery bar of soap. According to Google; generally, there are many quality issues that need to be addressed.
Advice from Google
Whereas Google has yet to offer any specific advice on how to react and adapt proactively to the havoc created by core updates to website search results, nor are they likely to, they do offer insight in their August, 2019 Google Webmaster Central Blog:
The blog gives four broad categories that content creators and SEO experts can use to examine their content and consider making improvements in.
- Content and quality questions: Is it original, substantial, insightful, helpful, and adding value?
- Expertise questions: Is it well-researched, authoritative, accurate, and by a trusted authority?
- Presentation and production questions: Is it well written and error-free, does it display well on various devices?
- Comparative questions: Does it provide value compared to other similar content, and serve the genuine interest of visitors
Make Your Content Even Better Every Chance You Get
What can the SEO community learn from the SERP fluctuations that occur after any Google core update? More importantly, how should they react in order to regain favorable rankings? Again, there is no specific how-to guide. The best action plan is to work on your content and make it even better- all the time! This is not a one time fix nor is it a finite project. Optimization of website content for maximum visibility in search engine results is an ongoing concern and a project that is never completed. As seasoned SEO experts also know, SEO is an art as well as a science. The ability to write content that hits the sweet spot between what will satisfy the needs and wants of your audience and also satisfy the Google algorithm is an enviable skill.
“To possess a website that is loved by robots and people, you need to approach, plan and execute your SEO as if it were a science and art.” Eric Sharp. ProtoFuse
Why Content is the King of SEO
In every update, it seems Google is making it more and more difficult to have sub-par content on any website. Google has realized that for years businesses simply had writing on their pages to speak to the search bots/web crawlers with little to no consideration for how well the content was written. Now, content can literally be the key to effective SEO strategies focused on organic traffic. Let’s face it, Google is not about to lighten up on content requirements and SEO companies are feeling the brunt. It is vital to have a company such as CompellingContentNearMe to assist with content creation for any online need. If you would prefer to try it on your own, please understand that it may feel as though you are trying to hit an ever-moving target. Here are some key factors to consider as you work to keep your content fresh, relevant, and at the top of the results pages.
- Keep your content unique; avoid copying and pasting information from other websites.
- Provide content that is of value to the reader and that covers the given topic in depth.
- Provide content that will appeal to your audience and keep them engaged.
- Ensure that your content is reliable. Provide sources and mention authors of articles you reference.
- Pay attention to detail. It may sound obvious, but make sure your content is free from spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors.
- Use clear and well organized headings.
- Be sure that your content matches your headings.
- Ensure that your content is formatted to be displayed on both mobile and desktop devices.
Overall, there is no definitive way to conclude any conversation about Google’s core updates and how they affect SEO. It is important to keep in mind that Google makes these changes in order to better serve the needs of users in their search for quality and reliable answers to their questions. Sites that are negatively affected by one update may recover in a subsequent update; even if the owner has not made any appreciable changes to the website.
The way ahead is pushing toward focusing on constantly striving to make content relevant, useful, reliable, correct, and making sure it is presented in a logical, easy to use format.