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Google Algorithm Update: Recent Changes to SEO

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Google Algorithm Update Recent Changes to SEO

Google Algorithm Update Recent Changes to SEO

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a prescription for everything? Want to increase incoming traffic to your website? Here’s your receipt. Want to optimize your blog for improving its results in search engines? Well, lucky for you, those pills are currently on sale. Unfortunately, the real world doesn’t work this way and we all have to figure out things on our own for pretty much most of the time. Here, we’ll attempt at doing just that — figure out what has been changed in Google SEO algorithms and what you can do to yourself {read: website} to survive.

Background

For the past year, Google had made around 3,200 changes to its search algorithms; compare that to the substantially fewer changes in 2010, when Google had only 350 changes. According to Google, the company makes at least one change per day to improve the search engine’s results. That being said, in 2018, the company made approximately 9 changes a day. And that’s a lot. However, some of those modifications might bear little to no effect on your website’s SEO strategy and might seem insignificant or unnoticeable for search results. Nonetheless, some of the changes, which Google names as “core updates,” happen once in a while, and right then is the time to pay attention and adjust accordingly.

Why does Google change so much when search results are already pretty good and consistent? Well, Google makes sure that overall search experience is improving and only relative and authoritative content appears in its searches.

Why should you care? Well, if you own a website, from the past month, you might have experienced your website either dropping or upping in search results, and perhaps you would like to know why and if there’s anything you can do about it. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t work this way: there’s no immediate fix; however, you should still strive to continuously improve your website providing its visitors with high-quality content. Let’s find out what changes have been made and what they mean for you.

Changes

SEO Core Updates

SEO Core Updates

As previously said and later reiterated many times, Google’s primary advice is to create the best content you can. The question here is how you know if you’re creating your best content or not. Instead of answering this question, Google suggests you ask yourself another set of questions that will help you answer that main and the most important question if you’re doing the best you can.

Let’s summarize a few questions from Google’s core update 2019.

Quality

    • Provide original content, reporting, research, or analysis.

Do not duplicate content. Instead, if you want to reshare your original piece somewhere else — use a canonical which will link the duplicate to the original post. Overall, strive to create original, fresh content.

    • Provide a substantial, complete, or comprehensive description of the topic

Consider your user’s intent. Try to anticipate all possible questions a user may ask while searching for a specific topic. Make sure you address all parts of the user’s search query to make your page complete and comprehensive.

    • Provide insightful analysis that’s beyond obvious.

Research your competition and see what they have not covered — then cover those missing pieces.

    • Avoid simply copying and rewriting other sources, instead — add originality and additional value.

If you’re referencing someone else’s content, make sure you provide additional commentary and arrive at your own conclusions.

    • Make headline descriptive without being exaggerating or shocking.

Make your headline appealing without going over the top (avoid clickbaity and fakenewsy titles). Make sure your headline is more than just a few words: write a compelling comprehensive descriptive title.

    • Think of your brand and authoritativeness of your voice.

Make sure your content will be shared, discussed, recommended, and even referenced by other sources.

Expertise

  • Make sure you provide expert content. Use data, cite your sources. Create pages for your authors with clear, interesting, engaging bios and background information about their expertise.
  • Concentrate on building authority and trustworthiness around your website rather than artificial link-building or low-quality SEO.
  • Content needs to be engaging and well-researched even if it’s written by an enthusiast.
  • Produce error-free material: no fake news, no factual mistakes, no falsified information, no conspiracy.
  • Show your readers that your site is credible.

Presentation/production

  • Proofread your text: make it free from grammatical and stylistic errors
  • Spend time on your content: put custom graphics, videos, images, podcasts, ensuring the users will have a great time on your page
  • Make each page on your site fully answer to its intent. If it’s ‘About me’ page, make it comprehensible and complete.
  • Cut down on the ads that might distract your user and make them leave your site
  • Make sure your site is responsive and easily viewed and accessible on multiple devices: mobile, desktop, laptop, etc.

Comparison

  • While aiming at ranking on a certain keyword, look at the top 10 results in Google, and aim at producing content either better or more thorough than at those already highly ranked websites
  • However, don’t try to write the content for the search engines alone, rather — satisfy your users first.
Summary of Core Updates

Summary of Core Updates

Side note: SQRG & E-A-T

Another resource that Google advises to review when trying to make your website better is the Search Quality Rater Guidelines (SQRG). Reading raters’ guidelines might be helpful in learning how raters assess good content, which may, in turn, help you improve the content on your site. The content’s goal, according to the guidelines is to be Expert, Authoritative, and Trustworthy (E-A-T for short). E-A-T is extremely important for Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) websites, that is if your website gives financial, medical, or legal advice: the content should be accurate, represent a scientific and medical consensus, where such consensus exists. Also, if you’re taking any credit card transactions on your site, then it’s also qualified as YMYL.

Google also differentiates between high quality and good quality pages and gives definitions and characteristics for each:

High quality

  • The publisher is E-A-T, the expertise of an author is confirmed
  • The website provides clear and comprehensive information about who’s responsible for the site
  • The website has a positive reputation

Low quality

  • An inadequate level of E-A-T
  • The headlines are shocking or clickbaity
  • There are a lot of distracting ads
  • There’s an unsatisfying amount of website information and authors
  • Even mildly negative reputation
E-A-T

E-A-T

If you have not yet noticed, the author’s reputation has been clearly referenced multiple times throughout this short overview of changes, as well as, of course, in the documents (like SQRG) themselves. The authors of the pages’ content need to have enough expertise on the topic, which should be addressed either in their bios or clearly referenced and communicated within the text. Perform a Google search for your authors and see what type of results you come up with: there should be clear evidence that the author has at least some sort of expertise on a given subject. Until your authors build up a strong online persona confirming their authoritativeness in the field, your site will be outranked by those whose content writers are more trustworthy. The interesting thing about Google is that it becomes increasingly good at determining if there’s a real buzz around your company or, conversely, if it’s incentivized, artificial, and paid for.

Here’s what you can do to boost your overall website’s E-A-T:

  • Get good online reviews
  • Get Wikipedia mentions or better – have your own page
  • Get mentions on authoritative websites {like newspapers, educational institutions, and so on}
  • Get forum mentions, spark interesting discussions

Here’s a great discussion on core updates 2019:

Conclusion

While trying to rank higher in searches, do not forget about working on the overall recognition of your brand. Instead of artificial link building, start working with journalists and writers with visible and trustworthy online personas clearly indicating their level of expertise and authoritativeness. Work on each individual page on your site and see if it clearly answers the possible users’ queries. Moreover, spark discussions on social media and work on your own online reviews. And don’t forget to grab your link to an official document.


Also published on Medium.

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