Google search accounts for millions of dollars in revenue for businesses that rank high on search results pages. On Aug. 1, the company did a massive core algorithm update that surprised and shook the SEO and business world.
Without warning, sites watched as their search rankings tanked or improved and were left to pick up the pieces.
Google designed the update to improve relevance and authority in the search results. It blindsided many businesses and left them wondering how to get rankings back. It hit medical and healthcare based websites hard. They scrambled to improve rank before revenues started to fall.
What is a Massive Core Algorithm Update?
Google’s algorithm for the search engine takes into account more than 200 factors when deciding what page comes first. Digital marketers analyze search patterns and rank changes to determine what these factors are, but most are a mystery.
Google tweaks its algorithm every day to make it a better tool for its searchers. Rarely does it do something major that impacts millions of sites like the August 1 update. The company also rarely tells anyone about core algorithm changes when they happen.
You’ve heard of Penguin, Panda and other named updates designed to fix a specific aspect of the algorithm. It’s not hitting the entire thing. Penguin was about spam, etc. They’re not broad core algorithm updates like the one Google implemented in August.
Nicknamed the Medic Update
After careful analysis, the Google update seems focused on medical websites and “Your money or your life” (YMYL) sites. YMYL sites are those that have a focus on health and well-being or major life decisions. They have information that can impact how you live your life by following their advice.
Google holds these sites to a higher standard because of that. Despite the focus, it hit many non-medical websites too.
Quality and Authority
The focus of the update was to improve quality and authority for searchers. It improved the rank of websites that had content that wasn’t authoritative in the niche. Google targeted undervalued sites that had great content but hadn’t been highlighted before the update.
For example, a website that has blogs and articles that are in-depth and written by an authority in the industry would see its rank improve, but a site with generic content would see its rank decrease.
Sites like sciencedaily.com and glassdoor.com had significant improvement, but sites like prevention.com and oyster.com saw dramatic declines.
Outside Health Industries
While the update seems focused on health and wellness sites, other industries also saw an impact. It affected e-commerce sites, as well as finance and business websites because they use the information to sell a product.
What Can You Do?
The update took about a week to roll out. If your site hasn’t improved or decreased in the rankings, then you weren’t affected by it. If you saw an improvement in ranking, then congratulations, Google likes you. Huzzah!
If you saw a decline, then you need to improve the quality of the content on your site from blog posts to website copy.
Improve Your Website Copy
The update wasn’t designed to tank websites that had thin content. It elevated websites that had great content. If you want to get your ranks back up, then your content needs to be top notch.
Create content that educates customers and provides them with a resource for their problems. Don’t make short little 300-word posts; instead, focus on in-depth articles and case studies. Your content needs links to other reputable sites when you use statistics and facts.
The focus shouldn’t be your business or selling your product but creating an educational resource for your customers. That will segue into sales and conversions. That’s what Google wants to see and rewarded sites with that type of content on the August 1 update.
Work On General Website Improvement
It never hurts to go above and beyond, especially when you’re recovering from an update. Work on developing keyword lists and check your rankings on a regular basis. It’s important to put in place search engine optimization techniques.
Your pictures should all have alt tags. Your page title and meta descriptions should be unique and relevant to the page. User experience is another aspect that Google adore. Make your site accessible and navigable to help with rankings.
If you have access to a website audit to tell you problem issues with your site, you can go down the list.
It’s Going to Take Time
Anyone hit with a Google update should prepare for gradually improving rankings over several months rather than a quick fix. While Google can change the playing field, you can’t. When you put in place changes, it takes time for Google to notice and index those alterations.
It’s also an ongoing experience. You can’t work for six months to improve content and then stop. Google will knock your site down again. This has to be the baseline for your efforts from here on out. If you maintain that quality, then you’ll likely not only recover your ranking over time but also surpass it.
The Game Changes Again
While the August 1, 2018 algorithm update had a major impact, it won’t be the last. Google constantly tweaks the algorithm and uses machine learning to create the best experience for searchers. The days of trying to game the system are over.
It’s possible that you can do this and then Google will make another change that knocks you down again or lifts you up. The best advice for staying in Google’s good graces is to always keep your customer in mind and provide good, in-depth content that people want to read.
A Spoonful of Sugar
Mary Poppins once said “a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down,” but the massive core algorithm was a bitter pill to swallow for many. If you want to learn more about SEO strategies, then visit our website and get your rankings back on page one.