Have you ever noticed your website suddenly dip in search engine rankings? Well over the last 12 months, Google has released a number of key updates to search engine algorithms which have not only taken a number of websites by surprise, but many never recovered.
With the most significant update occurring as recently as March 2019, inside this article, our Cheshire web design agency will investigate the biggest and most influential updates from over the last 12 months and what you need to know to determine if your website was affected and what you can do to fix this.
What is a Google Algorithm?
A Google Algorithm is a complex system that will combine data with numerous other ranking signals (SERPS) to score content to deliver webpages ranked by quality and relevance based on the search engine result. Following any update, some rankings will move higher or lower based on if websites receive a penalty, or receive a devaluation which means Google had found more relevant content related to specific search queries.
Introducing the Maccabees Update
After catching many websites out, Google later admitted that they did release a search engine algorithm update by confirming “We released several minor improvements during this timeframe, part of our regular and routine efforts to improve relevancy”, which was later titled The Maccabees update – Confirmed by SearchEngineLand
After much speculation, it was discovered that Google had changed how to score content relevancy by prioritizing links coming from high authority websites and penalised websites that contained irrelevant articles, high volume of poor-quality backlinks and/or poor landing pages.
Many blogs, travel, e-commerce and local directories were hit hardest with this update because they were applying black hat SEO techniques by creating every landing page you could imagine. For example, if you were a travel site, your website would be disciplined for creating landing pages for a destination, destination + activity, destination + activity + accommodation etc.. in some cases, certain websites would dig even deeper.
Moving onto the Mobile-First Update
Although website speed has always been considered an influence in search engine rankings for quite some time, it has been focused on desktop search. From July 2018, Google announced the ‘Mobile-First’ update where page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.
The reasoning behind the update was very simple. Today users want to be able to find information as quickly as possible and slower webpages may risk loosing traffic due to short attention spans. This is something our Cheshire web agency have advised all our customers about and you can read more about this inside our search engine watch mobile first indexing article.
In a webmaster central blog post, Google explained that this update will apply the same standard to all pages, regardless of the technology used to build the page. Google also hinted a slow page may still rank highly, it is still contains great, relevant content.
And Finally, The Google Medic Update
Although this update has nothing to do with the healthcare industry, it’s believed Google originally targeted the online healthcare profession first, which is where the name originates from, before rolling out to all websites. Released in August 2018, this was the biggest algorithm update of the year.
According to Forbes, 70% of the buyers decision is made before reaching the sales page. The Google Medic update reflected this habit by favouring more information-based pages that would help potential customers make a decision instead of a generic sales page.
Furthermore, data also discovered the Medic update also targeted YMYL pages. YMYL is a phrase coined by Google which stands for ‘Your Money Your Life. YMYL websites are pages that require and store personal information such as bank account information, or websites/pages offering professional advice on major life issues and decisions that could impact future happiness and finances.
How to recover from Search Engine Algorithm Updates
Professionally speaking as a Cheshire web design agency, there are no definitive answers on how to fix or recover from any updates. There are few hints, tips and suggestions we would advise to follow
Mobile Friendly – Google now openly works on a mobile-first capacity. Make sure your website not only works responsively, but it also maintains a great look across all mobile devices
Website Speed – Again, make sure your website scores credibly on both mobile and desktop. Gone are the days of flash etc, so look to keep a simple, clean website design.
HTTPS / SSL Certificate – Over 50% of the internet use Chrome as their favoured browser choice. Google hinted websites without SSL/HTTPs certificated may suffer in search rankings.
Quality Content Over Quantity – I’m sure you grasped this by reading this article, Google only wants to provide users with the best quality content. Instead of creating landing page after landing page, spend some time making your key pages quality.
Backlinks – Google are always improving, and this means they can detect the quality of hyperlinks both internal and external.
Have you been affected by any Search Engine Ranking updates? If so, consult your local Cheshire web design agency and we will work with you by conducting a thorough investigation to see how we can help with the growth of your website.
Contact our Knutsford offices on 01565 653616, or feel free to send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org