Core algorithm updates can be the curse of an SEO’s presence. The number of unknowns coming out of an update retains people on their feet, as Google apparently sits back and watches them run to address the changes.
Given how cryptic Google generally is about core updates — and even frequent updates, for that matter — it can usually seem like we’re at the understanding of the algorithm, with no fair measures of our own to employ. Google itself has even stated repeatedly that website proprietors shouldn’t view updates as something they are battling against.
With all that said, do we just throw our arrows up in loss? The answer is no — there are ample tactics at our removal, but as with anything in SEO, it’s a more slight, longer-term play. Throughout this article, we’ll analyze how to address, analyze, and impact the results of core algorithm updates.
How to address Google core algorithm updates?
First and greatest, it’s important that we appropriately calibrate how we think about core algorithm updates. As earlier mentioned, Google has confirmed that there is no “fix” that website owners should act in reaction, tweeting the following after the last core update:
The explanation for this lack of an easy “fix” is that websites are considered over some time. This can be viewed as a single, aggregated information card that is then used to inform results to reward, penalize, or maintain a site’s current status.
Persisting with this conceit, to earn good marks at the end of the school year, we should ensure that we are doing our very best throughout the semester instead of constantly reflecting on class and cramming right ahead of the final. In this exact vein, it’s essential to mention that many SEOs have recognized a trend where website modifications in the weeks leading up to a core update are mostly disregarded. This finding does make purpose in the context of websites being considered on changes made over a longer period rather than within just a couple of weeks. In the irregular event where Google is kind sufficient to give us advanced notice of an update, that should not be the sign for us to execute a barrage of changes sitewide.
How to analyze Google core algorithm updates?
Now that we comprehend the potential timing of core updates, we now require to correctly analyze website performance after an update has been rolled out. In recent years, Google has been a little more transparent about modifications to its algorithm. One piece of detail they’ve shared is how long the roll-out time lasts: one to two weeks.
Although everyone will be enthusiastic to study trend lines as the rollout is ensuing, deeper research should only be performed two weeks after the initial launch date, or after Google has revealed that the update has completed rolling out. This will assist to mitigate multiple rounds of post-update analysis.
I’ve discovered that STAT’s Competitive Landscape tab is one of the best strategies to get an initial gauge of website performance changes. The basis for this is because STAT is competent in providing perhaps the most authentic description of website visibility around keywords you tend about most. After all, you can determine the keywords that are being tracked. Alternatively, however, if you are following a small subset of keywords or if you’ve just recently added keywords, STAT may not be the most insightful, as you’ll possibly want a set of keywords extensive enough to mitigate outliers, and STAT is incompetent to deliver historical data retroactively.
Considering that you have a large sufficiently keyword set, you’ll want to navigate to the “Competitive Landscape” tab of STAT, as indicated below.
You will then notice a chart that shows trend lines of the top 10 sites by share of voice. In STAT, the claim of voice measures the visibility of a provided keyword set on Google:
By leveraging this tool, we’re capable to comprehend SERP volatility to the top 10 competitors. Every seven days, STAT does an easy tally of the sites that occurred the most continually in the top 10 search results for your selected keyword set. This is how those top 10 competitors are selected.
Some of the multiple insights we can glean in the context of a Core Algorithm Update are the following:
- Modifications invisibility within the known space of your keyword set: Improvements or failures to an industry as a whole may indicate several things, such as a general growth in order or reduction of Google SERP features.
- Changes in visibility to your website: Returns invisibility to your site after an update show that your site was completely impacted, and failures suggest that your site was negatively affected. Inverse associations in visibility between your site and competitors can indicate who the victors and losers are after a major update.
- Changes in visibility to Google: Generally, if Google shows a higher grade of visibility after a Core Algorithm Update, it is probably the case that they’ve raised additional SERP features that actually shift visibility from your website or prospects.
How to affect the outcome of Google core algorithm updates?
Last but not least, we want to analyze the sorts of website changes that may be a little more useful in the context of core algorithm updates. While there is no boundary to the kinds of tactics that we can leverage to try to produce good algorithmic responses, we can make some enlightened guesses based on Google’s historical prior focus areas.
Since the Medic Update of August 2018, Google has cracked down on sites that are classified as “Y-M-Y-L” (Your Money Your Life). YMYL websites fall within the medical, health, financial, and news fields, and can be regarded as sites that can affect someone’s livelihood. Google presented this idea and a higher degree of scrutiny as a means of battling the reach of false information at that time.
Since August 2018, YMYL websites have notoriously been a constant target of Google Algorithm updates. From 2018 – to 2020, trendlines of websites probably classified as YMYL would continually experience vertical hills and plummeting valleys in the aftermath of a core update.
Actually, if your website does not lose within these areas, likely, Google is still considering the same type of standards on all sites, although to a little lesser extent. So, with this in mind, a general method is to preemptively make comprehensive updates to your website’s signals of expertise, authority, and reliability (E-A-T). The concept of E-A-T was born out of the need to meet Google’s increasingly strict standards.
Given all that background, and using regular themes from Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines (what human quality raters use to consider websites and SERPs), below are 10 specific website updates that can boost your website’s E-A-T signals. This list is normally where I would start when attempting to prompt recovery after declines reaching out of a core update:
- Mention your references and ensure accuracy of claims
- Kill, shift, or refresh thin content
- Canonicalize, kill, or redirect duplicate content
- Include author bylines, bios, and author pages by listing exact certifications and awards
- Conserve off-page reputation by updating your Wikipedia page and other information sources
- Showcase company reputation via testimonials and assessments on-site
- Ensure accurateness and acceptable information on social pages
- Enhance and develop upon brand informational pages:
- About us
- Contact us
- Mission statement
- Remove overly assertive or intrusive advertising
- Offer clear and satisfying consumer service information
E-A-T aside, though, general technical issues are a high competition for priority website fixes. Using Google Search Console’s indexation information and Deep Crawl, there is no lack of technical fixes to correct for any sort of website.