Get Fact Up: Episode 108
Core Updates: What they are, How They Can Affect Your Business, and What You Can Do to Stay Afloat.
Next time you’re feeling run off your feet at work, have a think about the poor data scientists and web developers of Silicon Valley, the tireless cogs of Google and the internet at large. You may not know it, but on average these guys roll out multiple updates to the Google algorithm each day, amounting to what is thousands of changes each and every year. Designed “to improve results” and usability, the vast majority of these updates go unnoticed by both the general public and those monitoring the SEO climate, being too small in scale and calibre to have any tangible effects. However, every couple of months, Google will roll out a significantly larger update known as a “Core Update”, and the effects of these can be felt to varying degrees depending on the nature of your business and/or website. You may not be aware, but such an update was actually released at the start of June 2019, and the extent of its effects are still being gauged.
“When Google say core algorithm updates, it means it's going to be big – and people will see major jumps in their rankings”.
In essence, what we are seeing now is an extension of Google’s August 2018 update, that has come to be known colloquially as the Medic Update. Though described by Google as a broad (i.e not market specific) and global update, the Medic gained its medical moniker due to the fact that it seemed to disproportionately affect websites and businesses that sat within the health and medical spheres, as well as the “Your Money Your Life” type sites which deal with cryptocurrencies.
At present, it seems that June’s update is everything that Google promised the Medic would be: broad, global and cross-disciplinary. Operating in much the same fashion as the Medic, the new algorithm update is prioritising content on the merits of quality and authority, thus changing what businesses rank higher in the SERPS in accordance with how quality Google deems their content. In order to gain an understanding of what this means for your business and to learn what you can do to continue steering a straight course with your SEO marketing in the ever changing changing seas of Google’s algorithms, it pays to revisit the Medic Update as an explanatory case study.
How Updates Can Affect Your Business:
As stated, the Medic Update seriously impacted a broad range of businesses within the health sector including hospitals, nursing homes, pharma companies, informational medical web pages and websites selling health/medical products. What we are seeing now is a cross-disciplinary extension of the Medic, but fear not; it’s not all bad news. After the release of the Medic Update, what followed was that businesses or websites that had been steadily appearing a certain position in Google’s SERPs, would suddenly jump any number of positions, or sometimes even pages, in either direction, resulting in some serious ramifications in terms of traffic and e-commerce. Those negatively affected were businesses and websites with what we call low E-A-T scores. E-A-T stands for expertise, authority and trustworthiness, these being major factors that google’s algorithm now takes into consideration when identifying relevant and reliable search results. As a result, businesses with low scores lost positions in the SERPS, and those with higher E-A-T were – inversely – promoted.
“I've seen people jump two, three pages in either direction”.
At the end of the day, the change that Google’s latest algorithm update has brought to the SERPs is a positive one for the user, though it has definitely forced businesses and marketers to work both smarter and harder when it comes to content creation. People are now more likely to find search results that are notably more authoritative, trustworthy and well reviewed, and this is a good thing. With this in mind, we in the digital marketing sector need to reconsider the way that we think about SEO and content creation. In response to the effects of the update, Google Spokesperson Danny Sullivan stated that “there’s no fix for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages(2018)”. In essence, Google are saying that in order for businesses to weather the hypothetical algorithm storm, they need to be producing both onsite and advertising content that is well-researched, comprehensive and comes from a background of relative expertise. It’s not that you need a PHD in your field in order to rank higher on Google’s SERPs, but those in business and the digital marketing sphere do need to put a little more time and effort into their websites and content creation. Google wants to promote pages that seem legitimate and informed, so it has become important for us to objectively analyze our sites and content in order to find ways that we can improve in terms of expertise, authority and trustworthiness.
What You Can Do:
To boost your scores for trustworthiness, you need to rethink the substance of your content. Google wants to see that you're actually producing meaningful and useful content and not and just taking up space on-line for the sake of boosting your performance in the SERPs. It also helps to have readily available contact details on your website and online content.
As for expertise, well, this doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of research, hard work, originality, and recognition. Rather than just hashing out another top ten list for your monthly content quota for your client’s, Google wants to see that you have delivered clearly researched and informative content. So, next time you are writing and article or producing a video, try to cite some reputable and peer-reviewed sources, share information that you have learned from trial and error, and write to fill some sort of lacuna in the literature of your particular niche and not just regurgite the same old information found on every other blog in your sphere.
“If you look at the update from a holistic point of view, from a fairness point of view, it’s a good thing. It means everyone gets a go to be in search results”.
In summary, it seems like Google is trying to level the playing field in the search results and simultaneously up the quality of their search results, a sentiment that was echoed by spokesperson Danny Sullivan who stated that “As with any update, some sites may note drops or gains. There’s nothing wrong with pages that may now perform less well. Instead, it’s that changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded” (2018). There are no shortcuts here, and no quick fixes. It seems that in order to achieve the best results online, we need to be striving to create the best content that we possibly can.
Sullivan, D. (2018) 12 March. Available at https://twitter.com/searchliaison/ status /973241540486164480?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1024691872025833472&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fsearchengineland.com%2Fgoogles-august-first-core-algorithm-update-who-did-it-impact-and-how-much-303538 (Accessed: 13 June 2019).