Any time Google releases a new update, yet alone a core update, everyone generally goes into panic mode. We either see changes go into affect immediately on ours and our client’s sites or we’re left twiddling our thumbs as we wait to see if anything is going to happen. The June Google Core Update was impactful in a big way.
We invited Dr. Marie Haynes of Marie Haynes Consulting Inc., Jason Mun of Overdose Digital, and SEO Growth Advisor – Eli Schwartz, 3 fantastic SEO experts, to join us on August 14th for a webinar to discuss why this specific June Google Core Update was unique. Check it out!
June left most businesses owners and digital marketers having those same feelings, yet again.
The Core Update began on June 3 and finished releasing all of it’s updates five days later. Now that it’s been a little over a month since the rollout, we decided to go straight to the experts to see what kind of effects this update has had so far.
We interviewed four SEOs the same three questions to see if there were any repeat patterns or unique changes seen from companies all over the world.
Have a read below to see if you can see any patterns and how to deal with updates like these in the future.
1. Have you noticed any changes with yours or your client’s sites since the Google Core Update?
Yes, although our data is likely biased as we work with a large number of sites that are struggling after being negatively affected by a Google update.
I have one client that has pages that rank in the extreme tail of searches. This is the only site where I have seen any sort of impact after the algorithm update and in their case they are seeing a nice trend upwards. From analysis on this bump – and it’s somewhat hard to dig into when they are so far into the tail – it seems that some low quality sites were simply removed from rankings.
Majority of our clients are e-commerce businesses and during the latest Google core update, we saw some interesting movements. Majority of our clients saw positive movements in rankings.
Of clients that saw marginal decline in overall visibility were websites that were in the health and supplements niche. They seem to have experienced ranking declines surrounding super generic keywords such as “acai”, “vitamin c” and “aloe vera”.
Based on our observations, it seems that Google is changing the intent of these queries, from transactional to informational. Ranking Wikipedia and other health resource and government endorsed websites higher. Another trend that we have noticed are websites that still had lots of cruft, crawl and index bloat saw a negative impact from the update.
We’ve seen a mixture of results but it has always been tight for health & finance sites we monitor. in the last update June 3rd we’ve had a minor decline for a Health site (who benefited previously), with some sections of a site in finance losing out on visibility, but for most of the other sectors like retail/e-commerce & travel we’ve seen significant improvement.
2. What’s to come from this update? Any predictions on what to expect next?
This update seems a little different than other core updates we have seen in the last two years. We feel that Google has tweaked the dials on a few things, but most of those things are likely connected to their assessment of trust for the site, the business and its authors as well.
We feel that Google may have “turned up the dial” on valuing brand authority. This means that it may be harder to rank well against big name competitors. We also feel that they may have started taking a more strict stance against sites that over use ads. One thing that is quite clear when we look at our data is that many sites that talk about natural medicine saw drops.
I think every algo update has the same general goal to bring search closer to a human curated index. The whole idea of artificial intelligence is really to mimic what a thinking human might do in a specific instance, and as AI advances Google is able to incorporate more of this “thinking” into how they rank results.
If a human would look at some websites or links and be able to instantly tell they are spam, Google wants their algorithm to be able to do the same. It’s certainly not there yet, but each algo update brings it closer to that goal.
At the time of compiling this response, it looks like things have settled down. Rankings aren’t fluctuating too much. My predictions are that Google is the dialing up of “Quality” and E-A-T signals when ranking websites.
This is a good thing, it is forcing the community to really think about the content that is being produced and how they should adding new layers to expertise, authority and trustworthiness. It also highlights that importance of technical SEO, ensuring that a website is squeaky clean and providing a good crawl experience for Google never gets old.
Since the 2018 Medic Update, it has become evident that Google’s aim is to serve the end-users search results that offer the best answer to their query in line with their search intent, even if they have to monitor user’s search history, behaviour.
Google wants to reward the pages that offer an expert opinion, authored by individuals known in the niche from sources it can trust, thus completing the E-A-T cycle. With this in mind, we’ll see a lot of websites that rely primarily on niche content get affected as Google decides to crack down on their authenticity by comparing it to the likes of Wikipedia that offers content, cited and verified by multiple other sources with a factual evidence.
3. Any advice for a website owner or business owner who is concerned about the update?
Pay close attention to Amit Singhal’s 23 questions for Panda.
Many of the sites that saw drops had issues outlined in these questions including, “Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in the search results?”, “Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?”, “Does the article provide both sides of a story?” and also, “Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?”
Some could argue that these things would be hard to measure by Google, but we believe their engineers are smart enough to find ways to measure trust algorithmically. Many of the sites that saw drops were medical sites that did not tell both sides of a story.
If you are a natural medicine site, and you want to compete against traditional medicine sites, you absolutely must address the fact that in some cases, current traditional treatments should be considered.
The following two resources we have written give a lot more detail along with specific recovery advice:
I always recommend that my clients ignore algo updates and just focus on satisfying human needs. If a human would be repulsed and immediately bounce if they clicked on their site, there is no benefit to ranking high on irrelevant terms. Site owners and marketers should focus on building great experiences that inform and delight users and eventually the algorithm will reward them too.
DO not panic. In situations where you think you have been impacted by an algorithm update is to do your analysis and let the data guide you in determining the reasons why. Using Google Search Console data to analyse movements of queries and landing pages before and after the algo update is so important. Analyse the click, impression, CTR and avg position trends.
Look for patterns surrounding different types of keywords and pages. For an e-commerce website for example, I would analyse the trends of category pages, subcategory pages, content pages, product pages, etc and check if the update has impacted a specific area of the website.
Next is to analyse the competitive landscape. Hopefully, you would have rank tracking in place that also tracks the movements of competing website. If your website has lost visibility and rankings, some other website(s) have gained. Find out who and do a thorough investigation of why. After gathering this intel, you should be in a better position to identify areas of the website that need improment and optimisation.
Stay abreast of the latest updates and observations by other in the industry on Twitter, Google Webmaster Forums and FB groups.
You can either panic based on hearsay on the web, or take steps to ensure you win the race in the long run. While many sites that dipped in one of the Core updates historically have mostly had a reversal without doing anything & vice versa; there’s a major portion of the sites that made big gains by investing in quality content marketing efforts in line with quality rater’s guidelines.
One is also likely to see how much a visibility drop in some rankings have affected your traffic & revenue, in a lot of cases, the decline in visibility is merely Google adjusting your E-A-T for irrelevant keywords you were highly ranking for that offered no value. My advice would be to always invest in quality of the content on your site, with the preference and sole attention given to the user and their needs.
Meet the SEOs
Dr. Marie Haynes
Owner, Marie Haynes Consulting Inc.
Marie is completely obsessed with trying to understand how Google determines and rewards quality in a website. Her team, based in Ottawa Canada, spends their days analyzing algorithm updates and helping websites improve. Her newsletter keeps thousands of SEOs and business owners up to date with the most important changes in the world of search each week.
Eli Schwartz is an SEO Consultant with more than a decade of experience driving successful SEO and growth programs for leading B2B and B2C companies. He helps clients like Shutterstock, BlueNile, Quora, and Zendesk build and execute Global SEO strategies that dramatically increase their organic visibility at scale.
Director of Search & Insights, Overdose Digital
Jason is the Director of Search & Insights of Overdose Digital, a digital commerce agency focussing on helping e-commerce businesses thrive.Jason has spent over 10 years helping businesses understand how to get the most from their SEO and online marketing.
Senior SEO Consultant, Re: signal
Khushal has been actively involved in search engine optimization since 2013 with a strong focus around Content Marketing, Local Search and Technical SEO. Having worked with a portfolio of clients in UAE & UK varying from Automotive, Travel, Finance & Real Estate industries, he brings tons of SEO experience across various verticals to help the partners achieve their desired business goals.