Keeping Up with Google: What You Need to Know About Recent Google Algorithm Changes

Keeping Up with Google: What You Need to Know About Recent Google Algorithm Changes

Updates from the beginning of 2018 all the way to the recent October 2018 update have SEOs in a frenzy.

With many confirmed and unconfirmed algorithm changes, the face of SEO is changed forever.

What does that mean for your business and how can you make sure your website is performing at its best?

Failing to perform in the SERPs means lost opportunities for leads and loss of converting customers. If the Google update has affected your website in a negative way, you may notice leads and sales decrease. Understanding what is going on with the latest Google search update will help you make sure your website can stack up to the new ranking challenges.

To learn how your company should deal with the most recent changes in Google, continue to read through this article.

What is the Google Algorithm?

Unless you are in the business of online marketing, all of the digital marketing jargon can be confusing. You’re an expert in your business, but you never meant to take on marketing. When your business doesn’t have a budget to hire a dedicated in-house marketing professional this can pose a problem if you don’t understand some of the most important terms.

The Google algorithm updates around 500 to 600 times per year and is in place to ensure the best search results are found at the top of its search engine results. Without the algorithm in place, businesses could SEO their product and services pages to come up as the first results. Having product and service pages at the top of the search engines would provide a less than productive experience to searchers.

Another reason Google does not want product and service pages at the top of the search engines is that it would get in the way of their ad platform. If your product and services pages were showing up in number one and two positions, your company wouldn’t need to buy ads through Adwords.

How the Google Algorithm Works

When users type a query into Google, they want to find answers to their questions. Whether they are trying to find out if there is a solution to their problem or what the best solution is, they want to find helpful content and not a product or service page.

Google is just like any other business. They need to make sure their customers come back time and again.

They didn’t become a verb (“Will you Google that?”) without knowing how to provide an amazing user experience.

With over 200 ranking factors, it can be difficult to game the system by figuring out what Google wants exactly. If you try to take all of the advice you find online, your website is likely to be mistake-ridden and look like a keyword stuffed mess of internal links.

The best thing you can do when you are trying to figure out the Google algorithm is to understand that they have their user’s best interests at heart.

What the Google Update Means to You

Understanding the effects Google changes have on your business is important. More than having a broad understanding of what these changes are, you need to have information that will allow you to take action.

If you are doing things “right”, you can actually benefit from the Google search update instead of being fearful.

The changes in Google mean your website is more likely to rank higher in Google if you are focusing on what is important to your users. Instead of paying attention to the latest tweaks Google has decided to make on their algorithm, you should be focusing on what your users want so you can generate more leads with search.

1) Make Sure All Content is Your Best

Putting out sub-par content to hit a publishing deadline isn’t going to do your website any favors. If you think you have published content that might be less than helpful to your users, go back and update it or delete it and 301 redirect to a relevant page on your site that does offer value.

Content that is backed with real data and content that keeps the user’s attention is what you want to fill your website with. The more content you have that is performing well, the more Google and your visitors will trust your site.

If you have broken links or images on your site, make sure to fix those problems right away. They provide for a bad user experience which won’t go over well with Google.

2) Check Google Search Console for Errors & Solutions

While Google might be painted as the enemy at times, they do want to help your site perform well in the search engines. Websites with helpful and engaging content help Google help their users and this is why they help you through their list of recommendations in Google Search Console.

If you aren’t sure how to fix problems on your site, hire someone that can help you. Without proper knowledge of how to fix a given problem, you may actually make it worse.

3) Build Your Brand

Google loves brands.

Why?

Because customers trust brands. While backlinks were the top indicator of where a website should rank, Google is putting more weight on brands now.

If building your brand isn’t part of your marketing strategy by now, you are missing out on a big opportunity to set yourself apart in the marketplace.

When you buy certain products, your mind will go to a specific brand. Google is a good example in itself. When people think of search engines they go right to the brand of Google with less popular search engine, Bing coming in second. Brands for the win.

4) Become Better (Much Better) Than the Competition

If you don’t pay attention to what your competition is doing, you are missing out on an opportunity to see where the bar is set. If you know where the bar is set, you can not only one up the competition but you can become increasingly better than their offering.

Whether you are looking at their product, service, marketing strategy or their customer service, if you can become much better in one or all of the areas, people will take notice. When you are only a little better than your competition, it is easy for them to do a little extra work and outdo you. When you blow them out of the water, they are less likely to try to take the number one position.

2018 Search Engine Updates You Should Know About

Focusing on user experience will help you cure most of your questions about what to do for SEO, but there are some updates you have to pay attention to and make needed changes.

Even though there are hundreds of changes that take place in Google throughout a given year, there are only a few confirmed changes. Even when Google confirms a change in their algorithm, they are very brief and vague about what actually took place in the update.

Below are some of the major changes that took place within Google in 2018::

  • Mobile-first Index Roll-out – Google confirmed their mobile-first roll-out in March. Sites that aren’t optimized for mobile search noticed major differences as Google displayed sites that are mobile-friendly in the top of the search engines. In July, their update finally rolled out but was said to only affect the slowest websites.
  • Video Carousel – Instead of showing thumbnails for desktop search, Google changed to showing a carousel like on mobile. This change meant big adjustments for YouTube video creators.
  • “Medic” Update – The “Medic” update shook things up, and webmasters have been shuffling to figure out a fix. This update affected sites in the health and wellness industry the most.

And with every update comes a change in the SEO rules. 

Why and How to Track Google Updates

All of the information you’re learning may seem like a foreign language unless you work in the digital marketing field. If you are running your website on your own, it is important to pay attention to these updates.

Failing to make necessary changes when a major update rolls out could result in:

  • Loss of search engine visibility
  • Decreased web traffic
  • Lower ROI
  • Decrease in revenue

These serious changes can make a big difference in how your business is able to operate on a day to day basis.

Instead of thinking about Google changes as a negative experience for your website, think about how it can benefit you. For every website that is penalized, there is a website that is rewarded. If you are focusing on best practices, it is likely that your website won’t be penalized but may, in fact, be rewarded.

Places to Track Google Algorithm Updates

SEO blogs are a good place to keep track of algorithm updates. The Google Webmaster Central blog is another good place for information even though there isn’t as much shared there as there used to be when Matt Cutts was in the picture. Twitter has become a popular place for SEO update sharing.

Follow people like Danny Sullivan @dannysullivan and @searchliaison or John Mueller @JohnMu to hear directly from Google.

Staying up to date on what the search engines are doing can seem like a full-time job and reading SEO blogs might not be your idea of fun. Confusing information and a lack of time are why many business owners opt to outsource their SEO strategies and depend on companies that specialize on the topic.

If you want to use tools to track changes in SEO, there are plenty of options but even these reports can be confusing and time-consuming. Here are some tools you can look through to see if they are a good option:

  • MozCast
  • SEMrush Sensor
  • Rank Range Rank Risk Index Tool
  • Accuranker “Grump” Rating
  • Panguin Tool

That list is just to name a few tools that are available if you have time to review the data and implement changes based on the information.

What to Do When You Find Out Google Has Updated

When you find out there has been a Google update, the first thing your brain go to is pure panic.

Were your search rankings affected negatively?

The last thing you want to do at this point is panic. If you panic after an update, you are likely to make changes that do more harm than good. Collect as much data as is available and watch your search engine rankings to see if you were even affected.

Read information from reliable sources to find out if there are any major changes they are recommending. If there are recommendations that make sense based on the data you’ve collected then make those changes slowly and see what happens as you roll out your changes.

Whatever you do, make sure you aren’t trying to game the algorithm. While the update may negatively affect your rankings today, it might shoot them back up tomorrow. Only make changes if they are truly going to help your site, your user and provide a better experience.

You may have heard of the term “black hat” SEO. If you are implementing any black hat tactics, make sure to stop right away. Black hat SEO is spammy and is sure to result in long-term penalties and even get you kicked out of the Google search engines altogether.

Use white hat SEO tactics like guest posting, article marketing, and press releases to gain recognition will help build yourself into a reliable authority that Google loves. A proven marketing agency can help you achieve these goals without taking your focus away from your business. If you need help, make sure to reach out to a professional that is helping other businesses just like yours get the results that they need.

Stand Out In the Market and Search Engines

If you are tired of guessing about what to do when a Google update happens, let the professionals deal with these issues. Your business is our business and we are committed to helping you become successful. Contact us today to find out how we can help you rank in the search results for more leads and conversions.

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