Periodically Google releases one or more changes to its algorithm that incrementally helps improve search results. Most aren’t noticeable but once in a while Google will release an industry-shattering update – this is known as a “core” update. But don’t worry, when Google believes there is actionable information that webmasters, content producers and others might take in relation to them, advance notice and advice is given. Despite the advice being vague, Google looks to promote sites that show great user experience, rather than penalising them. As a result, high authority and relevant sites will rank above those that are low quality.
In case you missed it, at the beginning of the month Google released a word of advice for surviving its many updates throughout the year. Instead of focusing on one algorithm update at a time, it is advised that you prepare your site to be more compatible with Google’s core goal. At Ricemedia we have broken down Google’s words of wisdom to help you know what to focus on.
Google’s Main ‘Core’ Updates
Google’s main ‘core’ updates, also known as major algorithm changes, significantly impact the SERPs. It is important to understand each one of these changes and how it can impact a site. These are some of the most well known updates:
- Pigeon – was designed to merge the results on the web with local results to provide improved rankings and allow for distance among other parameters.
- Hummingbird – was mainly designed to better focus on the meaning of a phrase or keyword rather than individual keywords.
- Penguin – was launched to identify and penalise sites that were deemed to be spamming the search results, e.g. penalise sites that buy links or gain links through black hat tactics.
- Panda – focused on the quality and relevance of content, duplication and trustworthiness.
Understanding Google’s algorithm history and keeping up to date with new updates will help you understand and act on each of these changes.
Focus On Content
Google’s algorithms reward those that offer high quality and relevant content. So make sure you focus on offering the best content you can!
Quality Of Your Content
Google wants to provide users with the best content that is most relevant to their search. Pages that are thorough and answer all parts of the user’s query are more likely to rank than those that require the user searching through multiple pages to find their answer. This is where thin content is not satisfactory for the searcher. It is important to go above and beyond in providing additional analysis and conclusions than your competition. There is a lot of regurgitated content out there these days – remember, there is no need to write content for the sake of it, make sure everything you write is new and fresh.
Display Your Expertise
The best way to position yourself as an industry expert is to write about what you know, using data and citing your sources. Not only is it vital to create amazing content, you need to show the reader why you are a credible source and why they should pay attention to you. Don’t forget to make sure you have your name on page and even a link to your bio, as this will help you be perceived as a more trustworthy source. Along with this, it is important to work on your brand to help you gain more visibility and be seen as a trustworthy source. Creating fake news or writing content with factual errors could be highly damaging to your site.
Presentation and Production Of Your Content
Word of advice – triple check all of your content! Make sure that you are free of grammatical and spelling errors along with making sure that all of your content is well polished. Ensuring that the display is easy to read, excessive amounts of ads or poor stylistic layouts will impact overall experience. Remember mobile index first – your content needs to be mobile and tablet friendly.
Compare Against Competitors
Ask yourself, does your content provide substantial value in comparison to other pages in the SERPs? By benchmarking against others in the search results it will highlight areas in your content that could do with some work. Write for humans rather than search engines. Google wants to satisfy humans, therefore if you focusing on the end user you are more likely to rank higher.
Get To Know The Quality Rater Guidelines & E-A-T
Google has created a great resource that gives us insights to reviewing and improving your content – search quality rater guidelines. Raters give Google insights on how their algorithms seem to be performing and confirm whether changes are working well. This feedback helps Google improve. If you understand how raters assess good content, you are likely to do better in search. It is without dispute that writing for E-A-T will help improve your overall rankings. Demonstrating Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness within your site will help you do better in search.
Recovering From An Algorithm Update
So if you have noticed drops in your rankings following an algorithm change, you may be asking – how long does it take for my site to recover? Broad core updates tend to happen every couple of months. Assuming that you have made improvements following the advice provided above, content that was impacted by one might not recover until the next core update is released. However Google are constantly making updates to search algorithms to recover improvements that are warrant.