Google core updates can have a massive effect on businesses that rely heavily on organic traffic. I mean, this didn’t come as a huge surprise to us when you think that Google deals with over two trillion searches every year and has a 20 year history as a search engine under its belt! In fact, Google deals with a massive 91% of all search engine queries!!
Therefore, when Google activates a core update, some businesses will see a huge drop in traffic to their website. This, obviously has negative implications to the profitability of the business. In fact, we are aware of many businesses that have been negatively hit by the most recent Google core update that occurred a few weeks ago.
However, it’s not all bad news, there are some steps that a business can undertake in order to improve their overall situation. From knowledge that we have built up over the years we have compiled a number of tips that will help you recover from a core update. These tips will not improve the situation overnight and will take some work, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. However, before we delve into how to recover from a Google core update, we feel that it is important to discuss what a Google core update actually is!
What Is A Google Core Update?
You may not realise this, but Google search algorithms are updated all the time – almost every day in fact. These minor updates consist of changes that are designed to improve the overall quality and relevance of Google search results. These minor updates affect fewer web pages than the number affected when Google activates a core update.
Every so often Google makes large changes to its algorithms and this is what they call ‘broad core updates.’ A core update is usually an update to their main search algorithm and receive the most attention because they directly effect search results. A core update is designed to improve the quality of Google search results by shuffling the search rankings of all of its indexed web pages. This means that the user will only receive the best results relevant to their searches.
Due to how the core updates work, Google can’t really tell us how to recover from one of their core updates without revealing the most important details of the update. However, Google reported on their Google Search Central Blog, that a core update happens several times a year in order to deliver on their mission ‘to present relevant and authoritative content to searchers.’ I would argue that even though their explanation is a little vague, Google have given us a little tip on how to avoid being demoted on their search queries. They are basically saying that our content needs to be relevant and have authority. However, how do you recover from a core update when you feel that your content is already relevant and has authority? Keep reading to find out how ….
How Do You Recover From A Google Core Update?
There isn’t a definitive answer to this question, as Google keeps the inner workings of its algorithms a secret. However, through our own research and our experience of dealing with previous Google core updates, together with the advice Google has offered, we have compiled some helpful tips that will help you recover from a Google update.
When you are faced with a large dip in your website, or you see a complete collapse in traffic to your website, it would be easy to panic. However, panicking can be counterproductive. It could result in you rushing through your website, deleting or changing its content without any rational thought. I would argue that these irrational changes may result in an even bigger negative impact on your website, which is not what you need right now!! So stop, take a deep breath and try and think more rationally!
You also need to remember that changes created by an update take a couple of weeks to occur and some changes may not be permanent.Some lucky businesses may see a dip in the first week and then it reverts back to its original position. Just think that this may have been your business, however, you have changed your content whilst you were in a blind panic and caused a situation that is even harder to recover from!
Review Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines
Once you have calmed down and stopped panicking, the next step isn’t to crawl your site, blindly looking for issues. If you do this, you are wasting valuable time and may result in you starting to panic again!! In fact, the second step is to look towards Google for advice. This advice is given through their search quality rater guidelines. The guidelines may seem overwhelming at first, but take a deep breath and read through them carefully. They tell you what Google expects from your website. I would advise you to make notes regarding aspects that you feel are relevant to your situation. These notes will help you when you begin your recovery process.
As I have already stated, it is extremely important not to start ripping your website apart blindly. You need to work out the parts of your website that have been particularly badly affected by the core update. So how do you do this? Well, you can use resources straight from Google. These include the use of Google’s Search Console and Google Analytics. Using these tools will be invaluable in helping you to identify ‘problem areas’ on your website. Also, you can use SEO tools such as Ahrefs or Semrush. These will help you to spot where you have taken a hit to your rankings.
You can then use the information you have compiled from these data analysis tools to focus your recovery plan. This will reduce the chance of you panicking and blindly changing aspects of your website that may not even need to be changed!!
Analyse Your Current Content
With the knowledge you have gained from looking at Google’s quality rater guidelines, you now need to look at your current content in depth. This process will depend on the overall size of your website. If you have a massive website, it may be best to focus on your most valuable pages, or the pages that were hit most after the core update.
When you are analysing your current content, why not take a little advice straight from Google? Take a look at their helpful content update for really useful tips.
I would argue that there are a number of things you need to consider when you are analysing your current content. Below is just a few things you need to consider:
Up to date content: Google has stated that an important aspect of a website’s content is that it should be fresh. This does not just mean regularly adding new content, it also means that the content already on the website needs to be up to date and relevant. So take time to look through your existing content and make sure that it is still relevant.
Written with humans in mind: When you are focussing on your website’s ranking, it is easy to become obsessed with ranking signals. This results in focussing on whether a computer program would like the content, rather than whether it is well written for the human that is reading it. When you are focussing on ranking signals, you are actually going against what Google wants. In fact, Google, wants you to put the experience of the user at the forefront of your mind when you are creating content rather than website rankings.
Cover topics in depth: I would argue that the websites that perform best in Google search results covers its topic in depth. You may think that it is more important to fill your website with lots of short, lightweight content. I mean a lot of content must mean your website is useful, regardless of its quality, right? Wrong! A website may only have a small amount of content, but it is the quality of the content that is important, not the amount! So take time to look at your content and analyse whether you have included enough detail in all of your pages, or have you quickly written short, lightweight just to increase the amount of content on your website.
Conduct Analysis Of Your Competitors
If your website traffic has suffered due to a Google core update, it means that the traffic that you were previously generating is now being directed to other websites. It means that your competitors are doing something better than you, but how do you find out what they are doing? Well, there are many SEO tools that you can use, such as Semrush. Tools such as this will help you to see what keywords they are focussing on and also see who is linking to them.
The information you gather from analysing the websites of your competitors will help you rewrite and re-craft your own content. It will help you make your own content more relevant and will help you build up your authority in your topic area. It is also important to state here that you shouldn’t rely on software to look at your competitors, you need to look at their content from a humans point of view. This will help you to write human friendly content.
Improve Your Website’s E-A-T
Improving your content is not enough to help you recover from a Google core update. You also need to be a trusted authority. This came about in 2014 when Google created E-A-T. E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. So what is E-A-T, and how do you improve your blog posts to be good at it? Keep reading…….
Expertise: Expertise means that you need to have a high level of knowledge or skill in a particular area. Google wants you to show that you know your topic at an expert level. If you don’t show your expertise, your website will take a negative hit from Google. A very good way to show your expertise is to add statistics in to your blog posts. If you can back up your information and claims, then the reader is more likely to trust what you have to say.
Authoritativeness: Authoritativeness refers to the reputation of the author of a blog, especially among other experts in the same field. Put in simple terms, authoritativeness is shown by someone becoming a ‘go-to’ for a source of information about a particular topic. Therefore, it is important that you build up a strong reputation in your topic.
Trustworthiness: Trustworthiness is about transparency and accuracy of the information you present on your website. This means that you need to build up trust and reliability for your whole website, and also, for yourself as an author. You can achieve this by using an SSL on your website. Another way to improve your trustworthiness is add an author bio on your blogs. If the reader sees who is behind an article, they are more likely to trust the person writing the article. An anonymous website appear less trustworthy.
E-A-T isn’t an easy thing to implement, nor is it a quick fix. However, if you put effort and work into improving your E-A-T of your website, then you will see improvements over time. If you want to read about E-A-T direct from Google, you can read more information in their quality rater guidelines.
Improve Your Website’s Speed
This point isn’t directly related to the content of your website, however, it can still help you recover from a negative impact of a Google core update. Google wants people to be able to access the internet from anywhere in the world and at any time of day. I mean, over 50% of Internet usage is made up of people accessing it on their mobile phones. Therefore, your website needs to perform well even when the user doesn’t have access to high-speed internet. So how do you ensure your website loads quickly?
Well, there are a number of things you can do. One of the easiest things, and one of the most important, things to do is to reduce the size of your images. If an image is too large, it takes a long time to load. This will slow down the overall performance of your website.
Another way to improve the speed of your website is to reduce the number of redirects to other pages, or websites. Each time you redirect to another page, you are prolonging the HTTP request, and also the response process of the website. However, I understand that at times you may need to redirect the user but you should keep these down to a minimum.
You can also reduce the number of plugins that you have on your website. If you have a lot of slow, pointless plugins on your website, your website will become bloated. Thus reducing the overall speed of it. Therefore, you need to go through your whole website and check that you have the right plugins, and delete the ones that you no longer require.
Generate Powerful Backlinks
Another useful thing to do is to take a close look at the links you have on your website. However, it is important to point out here that Google’s John Mueller is recorded to say that core updates are about the quality and authority of the content you have on your website, rather than how good your backlinks are.
That being said, I would still recommend having a close look at your backlink profile. If the links that you have are not improving your website, then delete them. Less useful links will have a negative impact to your website. Whereas, positive, high-quality links show Google that another website trusts you and this improves the overall trustworthiness of your site. In other words, Google see links as a vote of confidence and shows them that your content is relevant. The overall effect is amplified if you can get a link from a highly reputable website, for example a well-known news website or government website.
I know that improving your backlinks is unlikely to reverse a rankings drop after a core update, however, it may help you to regain some traffic back to your website. Having a positive link to other high-quality websites may have a positive ‘offsetting effect,’ to a Google core update. Therefore, when you are looking at your backlinks there are two things you need to ensure: your links must be from authoritative websites, and you do not want unnatural links pointing to your website.
Publish New, Well Written Content
So far we have only discussed what you should do to your existing content in terms of how to recover from a Google core update, however, you also have the option to add new content to your website to help generate traffic back to your website. By creating new content, you will be giving Google the opportunity to index more content on your website and will be allowing Google to present this content to users. This new content is also giving users the chance to link or share your content. By users doing this, your website will appear to have have more trust and authority which, as we have already stated in this article, is viewed by Google as a positive. Google will soon see you as an expert in your topic! However, before you blindly start adding new content yo your website, you need to do your research. What are the keywords that users are using to search? By doing your research, you will be able to see what you can realistically rank for on Google.
The most important thing to think about when adding new content is to ensure that you put quality at the heart of all of the new content you add. However, it is important to point out here that before you start adding new content, you need to sort out the problems in your existing content first before you begin to add new content.
Recovering from a Google core update isn’t easy, nor is it quick. This is why you need to ensure that you put the work into your website, at all times, not just after a Google core update. It is important that you keep track of any changes that Google announce to ensure that your website isn’t negatively impacted. Focussing on your content, backlinks and overall performance of your website will improve the overall quality of it and may reduce the chance of you being hit so hard when Google performs another Google core update.
If you have found this article helpful, but need more help recovering from a Google core update, then please contact JPS Media. We will use the knowledge we have built up over the years of helping websites, like yours, to reach its full potential. We will put your needs before our own to provide you with the best possible service.