Google announced an update to its search algorithm on August 1st, 2018, leaving many in the SEO industry scrambling to figure out what’s changed. Google updates its algorithm up to 600 times a year, so this may not affect your website’s search rankings. But Google considers this a broad update, which means the company is refining search results to improve the user’s experience instead of completely upending previous SEO tactics. Google made the announcement on Twitter, stating the following:
After the announcement, SEO professionals and websites everywhere are trying to figure out what these changes mean. Google’s Danny Sullivan took to Twitter to address some of their concerns and his answer was pretty straightforward, telling digital publishers to focus on generating quality content that resonates with Google users. He suggests taking a look at Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines for a better definition of quality content. Of course, most of us in the SEO business were already focused on writing great content, so this is just business as usual.
How Has Google’s Algorithm Changed?
While Google is staying tight-lipped about how this is going to change a website’s search rankings, we can still speculate over some of the changes to Google’s algorithm and the way it processes search quires and ranks search results. We can use big data to try to decode any changes that are afoot. Now that SEO professionals have had a chance to test different search queries to learn more about these changes, we can start to figure out how things have changed. Here’s what some SEO professionals are reporting based on the incoming results:
- Organic Vs. Local: Too Close to Call
Some SEO consultants and professionals are reading the tea leaves and seeing changes to the way Google prioritizes local and organic search results. Local search results are those that appear based on the user’s geographic location, directing them to local businesses that sell products and services related to their search query, while organic search results are webpages that are related to the user’s search query regardless of the user’s geographic location.
Some local SEO experts say local is getting a bump up in the search results with this new update, while others are saying the opposite. It makes sense that Google wants to connect users with local businesses, but the company understands that its platform is about more than local shopping, so it’s bound to include both kinds of search results. It may be that this update has nothing to do with the divide between local and organic search results.
- Large Businesses Vs. Small
We’ve also noticed some changes in the way larger companies are ranking online. Companies will multiple locations are seeing a drop in their search rankings, making more room for smaller companies. If a company is hogging all the top spots because it has multiple locations, Google is giving a leg-up to some of their competitors. This gives Google users more options when searching for all kinds of businesses.
- Financial and Medical Information and Advice
What are known as YMYL pages, which stands for “Your Money or Your Life”, are pages that talk about urgent topics such as healthcare and financial advice. Google wants to make sure that the top-ranking pages for these search queries are written by experts, so no one is getting bad advice. Backlinks are likely playing a role here, too, so more established pages can take the top spot.
If you own a health advice or financial planning advice blog, you might see a dip in your rankings unless you have some expert writers on your staff. It’s not clear who Google considers an authority but reaching out to licensed professionals can help you retain your search rankings. If you’re reaching out to experts or hosting content written by a medical or financial professional, you should have a link back to their practice and list their credentials on the page.
- Branded Content
Google also seems to be giving a preference to branded content or websites with a strong overall brand. If people are searching for the name of your company or website, you’ll fare better than your competitors in the search rankings. This means content publishers should be focused on creating a powerful brand voice for their content, so their users will associate them with a particular service or topic. This also means companies using the all-over content approach, writing about anything and everything, are likely to get bumped from the top spots.
What SEO Means Going Forward
So, what do these changes mean for you? If you’re not in the business of doling out financial or medical advice, it’s best to stick with what we already know, that is quality content is king and backlinking will make or break your SEO strategy.
Here are some SEO tips to keep in mind going forward:
- Keep your page speed fast and get rid of site loading issues. Not sure if your pages are up to speed? Try using GTMetrix or Google PageSpeed Insights to improve your loading time.
- Make sure your site is mobile-friendly
- Ensure https is activated and secured version of your site
- Focus on the quality of your content by giving actionable, accurate information to your readers
- Stop focusing on the frequency of your posts and instead, make sure every page has quality content
- Focus on getting backlinks to your content, which shows Google that you have quality content on your site
- Focus on getting high-quality links, and not flooding your content with low-quality links
Overall, you should be more focused on writing quality content with strong backlinks that appeals to your target audience than whatever’s happening at Google. For some websites, including those with financial and health advice, this update will have a big effect on your rankings. But for most of us, these changes are fairly negligible.
If you’re looking for more information on how to improve your search rankings or feel that your website may have gotten hit by the latest Google Algorithm, get in touch with Paul for a free SEO consultation and lead your business to SEO success. He will help to assess your trouble areas and then determine the best course of action for driving traffic, creating conversions, and developing high ranking SEO content that will bring you solid results that your business can count on for more exposure and better sales.