The Google algorithm update – what businesses need to know

As you may be aware, Google operates by using specific algorithms to rank websites within their search engine. These algorithms take many different factors into account which help Google to decide where to place your site in its rankings. Google will never say exactly what is included in their algorithms but they can cover everything from the quality of your content to the usability of your website as well as a range of other factors. As Google prides itself on being always up to date and relevant they regularly update their algorithms to ensure that they are capturing the data that they need from your website to help them to give their search engine users the best possible results from their queries.

Recently websites have started seeing the impact of the latest Google algorithm update which was rolled out in March. Google did give website owners some guidance around what this update involved and stated that this was a broad core update rather than a more specific improvement. What our SEO experts understand from this is that this algorithm update is one which is very much focused on website quality. Google’s John Mueller has been clear that what they want to see now is long-term improvements in website quality. Interestingly he states that this update should be regarded, not as a penalty to sites, but as a reward to previously unrewarded websites.

We know that algorithm updates and changes can often mean a worrying time for business owners as they could see their website take a fall down the rankings, and this may necessitate a change in SEO strategy.  That’s why we thought we would explore this update further to help you understand what it could mean for your website and we’ll also take a look at how you can resolve any issues that it may have caused.

How can you tell if this update has affected your site?

SEO professionals have pointed to rich snippets as a useful guide as to whether you have either benefited from, or been negatively impacted by, this algorithm change. Snippets have a quality component and therefore if you have gained rich snippets it’s a positive sign and if you have lost them it could mean that your site has been affected. You can also look at other site data such as any increases or decreases in visitors to your website as this could indicate whether your search engine rankings have been changed.

There are no quick fixes but there are some positive actions you can take if your website has been affected

If your website has felt the impact of the latest update then Google has made it clear that there are no quick fixes that businesses can put in place.  In fact most digital marketers expect that any changes will take months rather than weeks to come to fruition, and they recognise that it could take a long time for your site to recover. This is because Google wants to see a real focus on improving quality over the long term so changes will really need to be established before your place in the search engine rankings can be restored.

Whilst this could feel disheartening, the good news is that there are lots of positive changes that you can make to ensure that over time your website ranking does improve again. We are certain that if you put the following initiatives into place then not only will it help your site in the search engines but it will also help your business and marketing plan overall:

1. Ensure your site has high quality content written by expert authors

High quality content which adds real value to your users and gives them the information that they are searching for is an invaluable tool for boosting your site in Google’s rankings. Websites that only have low value or thin content will see themselves negatively impacted by this update. Therefore it’s really important that you review all of your website content. Ask yourself whether it offers customers what they need and consider the ways that you can improve it via blogs, how to guides or articles by industry insiders.

In fact one key issue that has been brought to light by this update is that it’s not only the content which matters – it’s who has written it too. Getting expert authors to write articles or guest posts will help the search engines to view your site favourably. To do this, make the most of local networking groups and build relationships with online influencers in order to build up a bank of guest blogs written by trusted and respected individuals within your industry.

2. Improve high quality links

Along with great content, Google also wants to see that credible high value sites are linking to yours. This is a key indicator that your site is trusted and that it provides valuable and recent information for its users. Review all the links that are pointing to your site and if any come from low quality or spammy sites then take steps to try and remove them if possible. You can also work on a strategy to increase links from high quality sites to your own website. Take the time to research key influencers who have high value sites. Interact with them on social media and use effective PR to encourage them to link in to your website.

3. Reduce any aggressive or deceitful advertising and affiliate links

The latest algorithm change means that if you do have any aggressive advertising or hidden affiliate links on your website then now is the time to review them. Google doesn’t want its users to be deceived so if you do have affiliate links or advertising on your site, make sure that it is clearly and honestly labelled so that customers are aware of exactly what it is.

4. Make sure your site is usable

Usability has always been important but now it is even more so. Sites which are not considered by Google to be usable will be negatively impacted following the latest update. Review your site and ensure that it is clear, fast loading and usable for your customers. If you are not sure then ask for feedback from both an SEO expert and your current customers. If there are any issues then consider re-structuring your site to make it as user friendly as possible.

 

As you can see this algorithm change could have a significant impact on your website and where it sits in the search engine rankings. In fact your website could already be seeing these changes as the algorithm starts to take effect. If you have noticed a negative impact then it’s important to remember that whilst there is no quick fix there are a number of positive steps you can take towards resolving any issues. The key thing is to focus on the quality of your site and to ensure that this is improved over the long term. Think about increasing your high quality content written by experienced authors, increase the links you are receiving from respected websites and work on building a usable and accessible site and no deceitful links or advertising. Making these changes should ensure that in the long term your site will move up the search engines again.  If you are concerned about the algorithm change and need help or support in improving your website then why not have a chat with us? We are SEO experts who can advise you on the steps you need to take to help wake up your website.

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