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Google Updates and How to Handle Them

Google has just released its latest core update at the beginning of December. It’s the first major algorithm shake shake-up since spring and the third this year.

Already the change is impacting search results performances across industry sectors. With many businesses naturally concerned, just how worried should they be?

 

What is the story behind Google algorithm updates?

Google plans several core updates to its algorithms every year. They are designed to improve the experience of the end-user by rewarding websites that deliver high-quality experiences with higher page ranking.

At the same time, websites that do not meet with Google standards face page rank relegation. That is the theory.

However, black hat operations have long been practised by some unethical web developers to trick Google into thinking web pages are better than they are. Google updates also target these practitioners and their methods making it ever more difficult to outwit Google's search bots.

This war of attrition continues and is no doubt never-ending. But what has made the SEO world sit bolt upright and take notice this time around is twofold:

  1. It’s overdue – seven months is a long time in the world of Google updates. Like so many things this year Covid has probably been responsible for the delay but like the virus itself, the pause has left many feeling uneasy about the severity of the outcome.
  2. The delay is compounded because the previous update in May created consternation hitting search rankings hard in some industry sectors. Will it be as hard hard-hitting again?

 

Who are the winners and who are the losers?

It’s not all bad news. Inevitably with rankings, when one business loses out another takes its place. But who are the winners and who are the losers in the race to the top of search results?

In May, big domain sites in particular, suffered from the algorithm update. Good news for the many SMBs with neatly optimised websites of course, but small comfort for those that lost out. News channels were the big winners with arts, entertainment and business industries among the hardest hit.

This time round search engine volatility was reported as ‘high to very high’ by industry experts SEMrush over the weekend since the release on the December 3rd.

By Monday things had calmed to normal levels, although some sites were still experiencing what can only be described as significant ranking changes.

 

Is there anything I can do to improve my Google ranking if my business is hit?

So, what does this latest announcement mean for your businesses? And what can you do to avoid plummeting down the results pages every time Google releases another algorithm update.

The advice from some experts is to sit tight and not make any radical overhauls to websites in an attempt to make a quick fix.

That is obviously easier said than done if your business just tanked in the rankings.

The rationale is that it can take between one and two weeks for data to fully filter through, so we can’t be sure how deep the latest update has impacted and exactly what the long-term effects will be.

It’s a classic case of if something is not broken then there's no need to fix it. More damage could be done trying to remedy something that isn’t actually broken and may well rectify itself when updates have run their course.

What we can be sure of is that anyone who operates a website needs to be better prepared for updates.

Google’s advice is always the same. It does not apologise for its ongoing mission to improve the user experience for website visitors.

But if you’re one of the businesses hit by the release you don’t have to just sit there staring blankly at a screen with fingers and toes crossed praying for what would likely be an unworthy redemption.

Take action instead. This is the perfect time to evaluate your website. Discover where things might be going wrong… and where things are going right. You can learn a lot from successful formulas and replicating good ideas elsewhere.

 

Is content still king?

One simple way to evaluate the potential of your website is to improve the content you present to your users.

Content has been king since the dawn of the internet. As far as Google and your users are concerned it is the single most important component to SEO.

Today, the impact of website content on SEO has never been greater. As technologies improve and using black hat tricks to cheat search ranking becomes increasingly less effective, it is website content that holds all the aces.

 

OK, I understand that content is vital but where do I start?

A good place to start is understanding Google's E-A-T philosophy.

E-A-T

See Google definition:

  1. Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trust

Like all website users, Google wants website publishers to convey their subject expertise to its users.

Equally important to expertise is that publishers display an authoritativeness and that they are seen to be trustworthy.

After all, why would anyone want to buy from an untrustworthy source or ask advice from a potential imposter? They wouldn’t.

Trust and commitment have long been mainstay marketing principles. Google has adopted the refrain and joined the chorus with its own version of the customer-first philosophy.

If you would like to know more, check out our quick six-step guide to creating a killer content marketing strategy or contact Hydra Creative for a free website review and content audit.

 

Familiarise yourself with SEO… or ask an expert

Content plays an enormous role in page quality recognition but there are technical aspects to SEO that involve a closer look and have a bearing on page rank.

If your business relies on its website, and let’s face it, what business these days doesn’t, then it pays to know more.

Familiarising yourself with the basics of SEO will pay dividends. Hydra Creative offers a range of free downloads that will help your business gain a better understanding of what can be a complicated subject. Not knowing is never a good place to be: much better to have some basic knowledge than know nothing.

With two of Google’s biggest changes in years on the horizon in the first half of 2021, it’s never been a more important time to get acquainted with some SEO essentials.

 

Mobile First

In March, Google focuses its attention on its Mobile First push. This is a significant event with major consequences for those organisations that do not make the grade.

Perhaps the most important thing to note is that Desktop will no longer be indexed from March 2021. This is huge news. Publishers must ensure that all prime content is on their mobile version… if it isn’t, it won’t rank in Google results pages.

A range of technical SEO techniques will also come under scrutiny. Google provides more information on its Prepare for mobile-first indexing page.

 

Core Web Vitals

In early May, website page speed comes under the spotlight. This may sound innocuous and you may believe your pages load perfectly well, but don’t take it for granted. Slow loading pages will not rank as highly as those optimised for speed.

Page stability and the reliability of interactive pages such as checkouts and forms will also be under the microscope with sluggish page engagement hitting ranking potential.

SEO is an ongoing function of website success. Being up to date with Google’s many and frequent updates is key to successful page ranking and ultimately the driving of traffic to your website. Not all updates will make a difference, but business owners can’t afford to miss the ones that do.

If you need help in understanding the SEO conundrum just drop us a line at Hydra Creative. We’ll be happy to help you start improving your page rankings.