Google makes frequent algorithm updates. These core updates ensure accurate website search results, improve user experience, or address what they perceive to be deceptive SEO tactics.
You've probably noticed one of these Core Updates when you see a drop or increase in your website traffic, or traffic to specific pages. Like most webmasters, you probably immediately run over to SEO Roundtable or Search Engine Land to check for a change that confirms your suspicion of an algorithm update.
Each day, Google often releases one or more algorithm changes that are unnoticeable.
What is a Core Update Change
Several times a year, Google makes significant broad changes to the search algorithms called a “core update". These broad changes that affect several user keywords or other website metrics, and can impact 2% to 4% of search results.
How many factors are there in Google’s algorithm?
SEO is not easy, but it is not overly complicated either for webmasters. Google has 200 ranking factors. Most of them are proprietary, so Google will never disclose what they are or how they work.
Content and quality that an Algorithm Change Affects
- Does your content provide original information?
- Is the information unique or the same information is available on other websites.
- Does the content provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
- Is your content insightful, interesting and unique?
- Is your content duplicate?
- If the content relies on other sources, are you simply copying or pasting this information, or are you providing substantial additional value to your readers?
- Does the headline provide a descriptive title that is engaging?
- Is this a web page you would bookmark, or share?
Top 10 Google Search Ranking Factors
- Content is Still King. You need to create quality content.
- Freshness. The Google Freshness Algorithm is real game changer.
- Quality Backlinks remain one of the strongest ranking signals in Google's search algorithm.
- Mobile First.
- Page Speed is a key ranking factor, since it affets user experience.
- Schema code.
- Brand Power and Social Signals. ...
- Domain Power.
How to Identify Fluctuations in Your Traffic
When Algorithm updates began in 2011, Google engineers released the first core update manually 1-3 day period. Google engineers would identify an issue that could negatively affect user experience, and manually created an algorithm update to address them.
The first major algorithm update was called the "Farmer Update." The goal of this core update was to devalue content farms, like Ezine.com. These websites promoted thin spammy content that provided little to no value. The publishers used this as a way to get backlinks to their blogs.
The most popular algorithm update that originated in 2011 and is still a key update is the Panda Update. This is not named after the furry Chinese bear, but rather it is named after Google engineer Navneet Panda. He is the software engineer that developed the technology to prevent websites with poor content quality from reaching top results in the SERPs. The goal is to devalue these sites so the content is pushed further down in the results pages, the content becomes invisible.
Other algorithm updates addressed duplicate content issues, broken links in content, significant grammatical errors or slow site speed. These are common issues that can negatively impact user experience.
These Today core updates are released several times per year. They are rolled out slowly over 10 - 13 days. Anytime within the 10 -13 day period, you will want to track search metrics to identify an upward or downward spike in your traffic.
You'll be able to do search over a day to one year, to track performance over time,
You'll also be able to identify keywords that have been impacted.
Is Your Vertical More Likely to Get Hit By a Core Update
A vertical is fancy word for a business segment. Certain verticals are more susceptible to affects of a core algorithm update than other verticals.
Health websites are often a particular target of algorithm updates. Men's health websites can target sex aid products. Websites in this vertical can sometimes use black hat SEO tactics to hide pornographic websites and content in sexual health sites.
Webmasters in this vertical often have to take extra care to ensure their content is pure white hat SEO, does not contain gateway doors to pornographic content.
Other Types of Sites that are often hit by algorithm updates, include:
- affiliate marketing blogs
- technology sites
- Health websites
- and FOREX trade
How Long Does It Take to Recover from a Core Update?
The long and short answer to this question is, "it depends." If you make no changes and just wait it out, you may see an improvement in your search traffic with the next core update. This can take 1 to 3 months.
If the core update has impacted your keywords, it can take a few days to a few months to update your keywords that have been negatively impacted.
If you need to add more content to make your articles more meaningful, you may see an improvement in your search metrics in a few days up to the next core update.
You should monitor other popular blogs in your niche. Are they more popular, have higher search traffic or make more money?
Check your pages compared to theirs. How is the length? Does there content have images? Are there pages more engaging and garner more comments.
If you answer yes to any of these questions, then you know what changes you most likely need to make to your content.
Use SEO Tools
There are several good SEO tools, such as SEM Rush or Ubersuggest. You simply enter the URL of your site, and the URL of a competitor. These tools will analyze your content compared to the other site, and identify problems that need to be addressed.
This is a great way to make quick changes to improve site performance.