Did you lose traffic in May or June of 2020? Not sure why it happened? Well, in May Google initiated a Core Update to the search algorithm. That’s fancy speak for “Google changed the rules … again”. But as frustrating as it is to keep pace with the changes to how, when, and why traffic gets referred to your website, it can actually be a good thing for small and medium sized enterprises.
Your website and the content you syndicate through all channels; video marketing, social media, blog content and landing page content, is impacted by every Google update. Some of these impacts are felt immediately (as was the case with the most recent May 2020 Google Core Update). Others may take several months before the full impact of the algorithm changes start to impact your business.
You don’t have to be a developer or I.T. ninja to understand each update. To research hints about upcoming changes to internet search rules (and plan ahead to minimize impact). We have been asked quite a few questions about the May 2020 Google Core Update and how it impacts content marketing and search. So, let’s take a look at how it could have (and still may be) impacting your content marketing efforts. Because your business deserves a fair cut of the two trillion consumer searches on Google every year.
How Often Do Google Core Updates Happen?
Google is constantly tweaking its performance. As an enterprise company that sells advertising services, it is important that Google delivers traffic to businesses. Particularly those that are using tools like analytics, and Google Ads.
The search engine also has to balance the UX (user experience) for each individual that uses Google to find anything from a restaurant to a new recipe, news, and other important information. Google actively works to improve this user experience by suppressing garbage websites and content, removing fraudulent or phishing sites, and by utilizing artificial intelligence to customize your search experience. Yep. Those Google algo’s (algorithms) do track what you like. And the search engine wants to show you the highest quality websites, articles, and links to content that is tailored to your needs.
It’s hard to balance both the business advertising needs and the user experience for consumers. Each Core Update from Google happens about every 2-3 months. Some are little and have a nominal impact. They may be tweaking something small that won’t mess (too much) with your web traffic. And then other Core Updates? It’s like a code-apocalypse that sends digital marketers and developers to read every article and release note from Google, to pivot current development and content marketing strategies accordingly.
There was a November 2019 Google Core Update that impacted only local search. This was good news for small businesses who rely on generating foot traffic. Then there was another Core Update in January 2020. That one was good news for health and finance niche sectors and businesses. Health articles and wellness products like vitamins, or services often face a battle for SERPs. They got a bit of a bump from the January 2020 Core Update in search.
The May 2020 Google Core Update was big compared to recent updates.
Google Shares “What to Do” If Your Website is Hit Hard by a Core Update
As much as the I.T. or web development department would like to tell you “we got this” when a website has lost traffic during a Core Update, it is actually your Content Ninja you should be talking to first. Check out the steps that Google recommends each business take, to evaluate algo changes and impact on site traffic.
King … Queen. 👑
- Does the content provide original information based on research, and insights that are valuable to the reader? Dig deep. Don’t just rewrite what other people are sharing, provide something really useful. And no fluff-stuff!
- Is the content focused on the good or service deliverable? Talking about politics on your blog when you sell athletic wear? Yeah, there is a disconnect there, and Google will smack you for it.
- Are you using keywords and search terms that align with the goods or services your business provides? This extends from your landing page copy to your blog articles or news items and your social media. Leveraging high-traffic terms that have NOTHING to do with your business is attempting to game the Google algorithm. And when (not if) Google bots figure it out? Expect traffic smack-down.
- Are your headlines classy? Using outrageous or exaggerating headlines for blog articles is again, trying to game the system. It’s also tacky. And Google is a class act. Don’t do that.
- Authority matters. You’ll often hear content professionals talking about authority. This is an equation based on the consistency of the content and quality you provide. Could your blog article be featured on Forbes? No? Then you are wasting your time. Google only indexes what it considers to be valuable content that relates to your niche. If it is clear that the person who wrote the article is not a subject matter expert? Expect Google to skip over the page as junky content.
- Structure matters. Do you have headlines? Are paragraphs in between headlines more than 300 words? Are you writing at an advanced level of comprehension? The top-ranking websites in the world write at a Grade 8-10 level of reading comprehension. One app that our writer team uses to ‘score’ content for search engine results is READABLE. Get the app, check your content grade, and be prepared for a shock. If you are not grading 8-10, and at a B to A level score, Google isn’t going to like your content.
This is why hiring a content professional matter. It is more complex than simply getting someone to write articles or landing page content for your website. It is the expertise to optimize the content so that you get the highest level of search engine value from your content. Mostly for Google (sorry Bing… not many people use you). If you can make Google happy with your content however, you can expect good results from all other global search engines.
Getting Right With Google Takes an Expert Content Team
The first message from Google is this: “there may not be anything wrong with your website… don’t make changes right away”. While Google undoubtedly is the biggest brain on the internet (human and artificial intelligence) it is not immune to making small errors in the algorithm. We worked on a project where a client got hit hard, wanted to redesign the whole website, and recovered search rankings within three weeks! (Good thing they had an honest marketing consultant). 😉
“Do keep in mind that improvements made by site owners aren’t a guarantee of recovery, nor do pages have any static or guaranteed position in our search results. If there’s more deserving content, that will continue to rank well with our systems.” – Google Webmaster Central Blog
Not only do you have to constantly scrutinize your content, but you have to look for ways to create more compelling authority content every month. This is why content marketers are so essential to your digital marketing strategy. The good ones, who know how to create actionable and indexable content.
Full discloser? That was definitely shameless self-promotion, but with good intent. No matter who you choose to work with to outsource quality content, make sure that they are keeping in step with every Core Update from Google.
Make sure they are working with your SEO provider for continuity between search terms on-page (landing pages and blog content) and in social media. That unified effort pays off, as your business can build authority in relevant search terms that connect you to the customers looking for your products or services.