March 29, 2018
Earlier this month Google took the step of announcing that they had released a broad core algorithm update.
Whilst a clear majority of our clients have experienced a definite uplift in visibility due post the core update, not everyone has been so lucky. In fact, a sizeable number of large, high traffic sites have suffered due to the changes as we shall soon see.
So far, we know little more than what Google’s already told us – and that’s not much either.
In their own words, the purpose of the update is to “benefit pages that were previously under-rewarded”. They also told us that “there’s no fix for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content.”
Google’s Nathan Johns has also recently advised sites which have seen a drop to keep on working to improve their offering. He also suggested that the core update was manufactured to reward “under-rewarded” sites as opposed to doling out penalties.
In a word, no. Or at least that’s what Google say. The world’s foremost search engine has come out and told us that there’s nothing “wrong with pages” that now perform less well.
Despite plenty of chatter and speculation around the update so far, Google’s solution it seems to any possible drops is to stay “focused on building great content”.
Whilst Google have been less then forthcoming in enlightening us about the update, there’s a few things we can say with a with some certainty. These are:
Since the update there’s been no shortage of SEOs analysing which domains have been most affected. Whilst it’s important to remember that correlation doesn’t necessarily equal causation, a cursory glace at the changes in some major sites offer interesting results.
Perhaps one of the biggest winners of the update was YouTube – which is of course owned by Google.
Many will no doubt perceive this as Google looking after its own interests. Whatever the case, it’s worth pointing out that video is massively expanding in popularity.
Another interesting aspect of the update is the fact that many broadsheets experienced a jump in SEO visibility whilst the tabloids seemed to take a turn for the worst.
Here is Searchmetric’s SEO visibility for the Telegraph, Financial Times and Guardian below.
Whilst the jumps may not appear to be huge, for sites which already get such huge volumes of traffic, this type of uplift is significant. We also know how much Google values trust, and these sites are generally seen as being more trustworthy or authoritative – at least when compared to the tabloids.
Now compare this with the Sun, Mirror and Daily Mail.
Perhaps it’s too early to draw conclusions here, but could it be that Google now regards pages from the Sun, Mirror and Mail as, relatively speaking, less good at satisfying user-intent as it did prior to 7th March? Don’t be surprised if others start drawing the same conclusion.
To be successful in SEO sites need to keep their foot on the pedal and be proactive. That’s why Google continue to double-down on the “great content” mantra.
We already know the importance Google places on relevancy and trust and that its aim to improve its understanding of content and user intent through machine learning. The fact that user intent is an awkward thing to optimise for if you have been hit probably explains the reasoning behind Google’s reluctance to add anything to what it’s said already.
So if you have noticed a significant drop due to the update, it’s unlikely that there’s going to be a quick fix other than to take Google’s word at face value and improve the quality of your onsite content.