Did you ever experience an inexplicable, massive drop in organic traffic? Every now and then, website owners or admins get this feeling that something is up with their traffic. Keep reading to learn, for once and for all, what’s up.
It could be a technical issue, sure. But trust me when I say it’s usually related to one of the core Google algorithm updates. Google has minor updates on a daily basis and only a few significant updates over the year. The last ones are those affecting your website on a large scale — both positively and negatively.
So what should you know about these updates? Read on!
A Comprehensive Guide Into Core Google Updates
Believe it or not, Google’s updates work towards improving their service and providing the best possible user experience. So the constant changes are not there to punish websites — except in cases of evident manipulation efforts and spamming.
However, some of the practices used to help websites grow are now the ones causing them to drop in rankings. Or, worse, hindering them from future growth.
Here’s what you need to understand about those changes:
- There is never only one change at a time. Google’s updates affect several ranking factors simultaneously, which makes SEO specialists’ work much harder!
- Google evaluates your website quality over a more extended period. So, if you have been negatively impacted by a core update, you mostly won’t be able to recover from it until the next core update. This also means that if you made some improvements some weeks before the update, your recent changes might not be reflected in the next one.
That’s precisely why following Google’s best practices is so crucial in the long run. And not just after something bad happens on your website.
What changes will we be seeing soon?
Google’s representatives have recently announced some changes to Google’s algorithm updates, such as improvements to the search. It will entail a better understanding of spelling, subtopics, paragraphs, and critical parts of videos.
Core Web Vitals, which are focused around UX and have their data shown in Google Search Console, will become a ranking factor in 2021.
But most importantly, Google is going 100% mobile-first in March 2021. Meaning? It will crawl and index only mobile versions of websites. So if your website is still desktop only, and you don’t want that to affect your rankings, you’ll need to adjust that ASAP.
Google Algorithm Update Prep Checklist
Remember how I said Google evaluates your website’s quality over a more extended period? And that the effects can be seen in the next core update? Keeping that in mind, if you want to be up and ready for all these changes, here’s a simple checklist you could follow:
- Check for any technical issues that could be affecting your site on a large scale.
- Monitor past organic traffic data and analyze specifically the changes you see around the significant core algorithm updates. If drops in traffic happened around those dates, you should look into what may have triggered the algorithm.
- Step up with the quality of your content. Keyword research and optimization are still necessary, but it’s more important to write for humans. Use ideal phrases and topics to give your content a target.
- Having a mobile-friendly website is a must. There is no excuse for old, non-responsive designs. It’s already losing you money… and trust me, it will only get worse.
- Think mobile-first. Google will consider your website just the way it’s presented to smartphones and mobile devices. Analyze if there are any discrepancies between your content on mobile and desktop, including the main elements. Keep in mind that Google follows links and not buttons and scrolls or swipes.
- Make sure you’re following the best UX practices. Yes, we know that good page load speed isn’t one the most significant SEO ranking factors — even though it always helps with conversion. However, that might change once Core Web Vitals become an official ranking factor. This will target the interaction with the website and movement of the screen elements once the page is loaded. Remember that many past Google algorithm updates also triggered other UX factors such as deceptive elements, aggressive ads, etc.
In short, each Google update makes its algorithm smarter. Although it’s not easy to be up to the minute in following all the new best practices, the good news is the algorithm values high quality. It pushes webmasters to create the best possible UX instead of focusing on manipulating search results.
Need help catching up with your Google algorithm updates? Contact our experts today to get your organic traffic going again and channel future growth for your eCommerce website.