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Surviving Google's Algorithm Updates

Epic Tips on How to Keep Up with Google’s Algorithm Updates

If you have been managing your website for so long, you’re probably aware of how search engines can help bring traffic to your site. 93% of online experiences starts with a search engine and one of the toughest challenges websites have to face is how to stay in Google’s good graces. After all, it is arguably the most popular search engine there is. You want to make sure that your audience can find you on Google’s search results list – even better if your website gets top SERPs for targeted keywords.

Every now and then – like more than 3,000 times a year, Google makes algorithm changes and the thought is enough to bring on the anxiety attacks on even the calmest SEO manager.  The last thing that any website manager needs is to receive penalties from Google for non-compliance to its best practices and content guidelines. But when they keep changing, how do you keep up? Here are a few tips to help you keep up with Google’s constantly changing search algorithm.

1. Monitor your traffic and positions

The easiest and most reliable way to know if your site is affected by Google’s core search updates is by monitoring your site traffic and rankings through the Search Console. If you see a drastic drop in your SERPs and/or impressions, your site is experiencing the effects of the update. Monitor traffic changes over a period of a few weeks and plan your next move based on the data that you find. For instance, if you see an improvement in traffic, just continue as per normal because you’re doing it right. No change can be a good thing because it means you’re not doing anything wrong but it’s probably time to research on your next move to improve your site. If you see drops in traffic, start investigating what was affected – what pages are getting the hit and what needs to be done to resolve the issue.

2. Don’t panic and do your research

It’s easy to go on panic mode when you see drastic traffic and ranking drops but you really need to stay calm. Be informed. Google’s Webmaster Central Blog is the best place to get accurate information on search algorithm updates and what you should do about them. You can also refer to Search Engine Land for expert advice and information on the updates.

Do note that Google does not always publicize algorithm updates. It is usually left to SEOs to figure it out, research and provide solutions. For example, in 2016, the SEO community suspected a Google algorithm update that they eventually called Possum. Google never really came out and confirmed this update officially but SEOs saw an impact on local finder results so they were more than convinced the search engine did something to shake things up. One of the known impacts of the “Possum update” was that legitimate businesses that were found to share Google categories with other companies in the same building were removed from the local search results. A study found that this unconfirmed Google update affected 63% of local SERPs.

Google will not always inform us of any algorithm changes so the best thing that we can do to keep up is to stay updated with industry-related news.

3. Create informative content… always

surviving google's algorithm updatesIt’s important to understand that just because Google rolls out algorithm updates often doesn’t necessarily mean the search engine is out for website blood. It is by no means targeting certain websites. It is just improve its internal processes of assessing content. For Google, a drop in your site’s performance following an update only means that the search engine found other content on the internet better than yours. And these pages are rewarded with improved placements.

Google’s aim is to bring relevant and useful information to its users. People turn to Google to get their questions sufficiently answered. And your website should aim to do this for your target audience. To rank well in search engine results for relevant keywords, your content should provide answers to your users’ queries. Create content that addresses your target market’s challenges and pain points.

Google’s algorithm update announcements tend to be vague and very much open to varied interpretations. But the search engine is consistent in its advice to focus on content.

4. Assess the quality of your current content

In light of the new algorithm updates and if you see significant drops in your web traffic, it might also be a good time to do an audit of your current content. Perhaps a content refresh is in order. Update what needs updating. Re-introduce old topics and give them a fresh spin if you’re writing blog articles.

Google may not be exceptionally clear about it but the search engine wants you to run quality control on your content to make sure it is still up to par. It may not penalize you for duplicate content but it is looking for fresh, well-researched and well-written material. There are billions of blogs on the internet on your topic so expect the competition to be tough. Your material should present something interesting, comprehensive and off the beaten track. It should go beyond rewriting sources. You should put your own analysis of what you found related to your topic.

5. Create content with your audience in mind

Google does not exist to please you, the marketer. It pleases the individual who uses it to search for information. It constantly looks for signals that indicate the quality of the search results it serves. If a user clicks a page and quickly goes back to the search results to head to the next one on the list, the search engine may not be doing a good job at presenting the most relevant answers to his or her query. Google is constantly changing and updating its search algorithms to keep up with user behavior.

Meanwhile, to get your site the online visibility it deserves, you need to keep serving quality content. Keep your audience in mind when writing your copy. What is it that they expect to see when they land on your site? They want to learn more about your product or service. Give that to them. Answer their questions. Address their challenges. Be that site that they can rely on for quality information about your topic. That’s how you can keep up with Google’s ever-changing search algorithm.

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