SEOs?spend a lot of time?trying to determine?Google?ranking factors. While Google occasionally offers?insight,?there continues to be mystery surrounding?ranking factors?and?the?distribution of?weight?these factors have?on overall rankings.??
The evolution of?updates to?Google’s algorithm?can have dramatic effects on the rankings you’ve worked hard to build. With that in mind, here’s?everything you need to know about Google’s core algorithm updates:?
The Evolution of?Algorithm Updates??
It all started?in 2003?with the?Florida update.?This update caused quite a stir, since it implemented?certain?filtering?mechanisms?for?several?keywords?and had massive effects on rankings.?For SEOs this was a game-changer and caused?many?to reevaluate their?approach.?
In the early days, algorithm updates would target one ranking factor and make changes,?these were?considered standalone updates. This made it simpler for SEOs to find creative ways to get around these barriers?to continue to achieve ranking success.??
For instance, the page speed update was specific. In response SEOs would simply ensure website page speed was fast?to avoid losing rankings.??
Yet, things changed in?2011?with the?Panda update, a standalone?update soon absorbed as a core update.?The Panda update?would give priority to ranking higher quality website content. Higher quality would be assessed based on several measurement points.?These were far more complex than?earlier?updates?and mostly subjective.??
For SEOs,?updates like these?makes it challenging to?determine?how best to?optimize?websites?in order to?see ranking improvements.?Instead, SEOs?must take?a?holistic?approach?to meet the needs of users.??
Core Updates?Versus Standalone Updates??
A Google?core algorithm update?is a?significant?broad?change?to?the algorithm.?Google does this to further their mission of delivering?relevant and?authoritative?content to their searchers.?These?updates?can touch several ranking factors, potentially changing how powerful their affect is on rankings and even adding new factors to the mix.???
Yet, standalone updates still exist and updates like Panda are often integrated into Google’s core algorithm.?Google simply stopped?refreshing?each standalone update?individually.???
Every year there are a few updates made to Google’s core algorithm.?The majority of?the time?Google makes a public announcement in advance to let?webmasters?know about any updates to the core algorithm.?Google?also?advises?when the rollout of the algorithm update is complete, so?webmasters?can?prepare?and?attribute any changes in rankings to the update.?
How to Determine?if Your Website Was?Affected?by a Core Update?
If you’re a webmaster, you’re?likely waiting?patiently to see if the most recent Google core update affected your rankings positively or negatively.?Remember algorithm updates?aren’t?always?a bad thing?– if?you’re?using white hat?SEO?techniques then they can?actually?boost?your rankings.?
Wait at least one week after Google announces the end of an algorithm rollout. This will allow enough time for Google?Search Console?to show changes. When you do review Google Search Console data ensure you check the following:?
- Review Google Search Console to see if there are any changes to impressions or traffic?
- Review in Google Search Console to see if there are any average ranking changes.?
How to Avoid Loss of Rankings: E-A-T?Approach?
If you start with a solid game plan for SEO then even core algorithm updates?shouldn’t?cause your rankings to slide. Google tries to make their algorithm human-like, with?similar?quality-based?judgement.?It wants to present users with the highest quality search results and will therefore give priority to websites?that meet that need.??
The E-A-T?approach?which stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness?is the best way to plan content for your website?to get the attention of Google’s algorithm (in a good way).?It is commonly?referenced?in the?Google search quality rater guidelines.??
In order to?implement the E-A-T?approach?to your website, there are a bunch of considerations?to?make. We've outlined them here?as a checklist:?
- Create?high-quality content?
This means have subject matter experts or copywriters create?in-depth and original content for your website.?They can ensure you have clear headlines, and accessible content?making it?easy to read for anyone visiting your website.??
- ?Content that displays well on all devices??
Nowadays visitors are searching on Google only on their desktop computer. The rise of mobile devices including cell phones and?tablets?means your website needs to hold up?when they land on your website. Does your?design and?formatting look professional???
- ?Excellent?website usability?
Google cares about the user experience. Ensure your website is a pleasure to visit with fast speeds and well-thought-out content.?Consider how you are laying out information on each page and test your content using user research methods.??
- Positive?customer online reviews?
An upvote for your website for Google rankings is when you have positive customer online reviews. This will?indicate?quality products and services and help boost your rankings.?
- Social media shares??
Social media can help amplify your content to people. If?you’re?sharing high-quality?content,?then that will?hopefully lead to quality backlinks. When other websites with authority link back to your site,?this can boost rankings.?
- Follow all Google?webmaster's?quality guidelines???
Google’s webmaster guidelines are the key to success in many ways.?It’s?information coming from the horse's mouth?which means?it’s?a great starting point to ensure you are at least at baseline before?continuing?to optimize your site.?
What to Do if You Lose Traffic After a Core Update?
There will be several things you will need to do if you experience traffic loss after a Google update.?Focus on E-A-T to ensure your content is up to standard. If you did lose rankings,?it is likely that you were?falling short of Google’s webmaster guidelines.?
Protect Your Rankings Against Google’s Core Algorithm Updates?
Google is always innovating which means SEOs will need to step up their game and stay in tune with the search engine giants core algorithm updates. You can expect many more core web updates and standalone updates to happen in the future. Be proactive with?high quality content?and prioritizing the user experience to protect your rankings against updates in the future.