With the start of every new year, we as humans make big promises and goals of change. The world of digital marketing is no different, especially when Google is involved. We’ve only just begun this new decade, and already Google has rolled out a big update to their algorithm (called a core update) that has changed and impacted organic search rankings. This builds off the core updates we saw take place in 2019 following the 2018 Medic update.
Almost every category of website across the board saw major change and fluctuation in organic visibility after the core update was first released on January 13. Some websites appeared to benefit from the update, while others were hit harder.
Moz has a breakdown of some of the “winners” and “losers” after giving the core update’s results three days to roll out and stabilize. But below, we’ll take our own look at what websites were affected, how it could affect you, and how you can take steps to weather this and other Google algorithm changes.
What Websites Were Affected?
The biggest changes came to those websites that impact users’ finances, health, safety, and overall happiness (what Google refers to as YMYL: your money, your life). Google is constantly evaluating how these websites’ information impacts their readers. Why? Incorrect information or deceptive information can have major implications on Google searchers’ lives. With each new core update released since the Medic update, we’ve seen Google continue to evaluate quite seriously how accurate, truthful, and helpful the content on those YMYL websites is.
Like the medic update, this update made a significant impact on those YMYL categories, but it also reached into almost every website category. Google continues to reward websites containing comprehensive and robust content that increases the overall expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T, as Google refers to it) of the website and of the company behind it. On the flip side, this core update has also negatively impacted websites with thin content and content that does not contribute to the website’s quality and overall E-A-T.
How Can This Affect Your Website?
Not all websites are affected by this update. It’s entirely possible that you may not see a difference in any of your standard metrics or KPIs. However, if you do see a change, you’ll see it in your organic rankings. In short, your website could appear higher up or further down on the SERP, and certain pages could be affected more than others. This also indirectly influences overall traffic and engagement.
How Can I Help My Website to Rank Highly?
If your website did take a hit in organic rankings and traffic, you may be wondering about what you can do to help your website recover or how you can keep future changes from negatively impacting you. And while Google notoriously keeps its organic algorithm cards close to its chest, offering very little information about what changes to the technical health of your site you need to make, they’ve made one solution loud and clear: Focus on content.
Last August, Google’s webmasters said that while you may have seen a dip in organic rankings, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve done anything wrong. If you do want to take steps to help your website recover, though, “we suggest focusing on ensuring you’re offering the best content you can. That’s what our algorithms seek to reward.”
Google’s algorithms reward the best content. That’s the clearest resolution Google has ever provided, but it’s also one of the most complicated. To start, you’ll want to perform a content analysis on your site and evaluate each page’s content for quality, expertise, presentation, production, and comparison. (These starting questions from Google should help.) You’ll also want to evaluate how each page’s content stands in light of the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, which is a very light 168-page read.
How Can I Create Great Content?
It’s relatively easy to say that you should create good content, but it is of course harder to do so in practice. So, what does it look like for your business’ website? It depends on your industry.
If your business has many individual locations—such as self storage, banking, auto service shops, and the like—we recommend prioritizing your facility pages for quality content. Think about the following:
- Is the content robust on those pages?
- Do you have fresh content?
- Does the content help search engines and users understand more about where your facility is, what makes you different from the competition across the road, and why someone looking for storage should choose your specific facility?
- Do you have unique FAQs for each facility?
If your business falls under the YMYL category—such as financial services or healthcare—you’ll want to answer an additional set of questions in your content:
- Is the content informative on your products and services pages?
- Do you have long-form content that helps search engines and users understand that your institution is an expert, is authoritative, and is to be trusted?
- Is your blog or resource section fully stocked with resources and answers to commonly searched queries?
In addition, regardless of your business, your static pages need to be robust and filled with relevant, up-to-date information. Your customers don’t just view one piece of content in their journey through the sales funnel, so make sure that every piece of content is high quality.
Go Local Can Help Your Website Flourish
Algorithms are constantly changing, and your content strategy should be evolving constantly, too. While keeping up with those changes and then updating your content strategy to evolve with those algorithm changes can be overwhelming, Go Local has an entire team of professional writers dedicated to working with their partners to make their content the best it can be, from following content and on-page SEO best practices to evaluating gaps in the market for content opportunities. We’d be happy to schedule a consultation with you and a member of our content team to talk through how these algorithm changes might have affected your site and how your site can recover through updated content strategies.