If confirmation of a Google core algorithm update has you panicking while scrambling to change your best-practice SEO strategy, you’re taking the wrong approach. While Google algorithm updates can produce volatility in rankings, these updates are ultimately designed to reward quality content. By developing a rock-solid SEO strategy and avoiding questionable tactics, you’ll develop website content that can weather even the most severe ranking shake-ups to come out on top.
Understanding the Google Algorithm
Google uses a complex algorithm to deliver the most relevant content in the results for each unique search query. With countless webpages spanning the internet, the Google algorithm relies on a specific set of signals to decipher what purpose each web page serves and to determine how to best display search results. But because the algorithm is an ever-evolving equation, search engine optimization can feel like a moving target.
While many of the Google algorithm updates are minor tweaks that make a minimal impact, every so often the search behemoth releases a “core algorithm update.” Unlike the hundreds of minor updates that occur each year, core algorithm updates make major adjustments to the primary ranking factors that impact search results. The effects can be notable, with pages that were previously ranking in a top position for a specific keyword falling multiple positions, if not pages, in the rankings.
Google makes these changes to improve results at a macro level across countless verticals. If you think about the diversity of content on the internet, it’s easy to imagine how good intentions in algo updates can inadvertently harm subsets of publishers who are doing everything right. Remember that Google is trying to dial in its ranking methodology to improve user experience across the board. If you’re following best practices and creating strong, authoritative, optimized content and you’re still hit with an algo update, staying the course should mean you’ll recover when Google makes another move.
If you’ve just received confirmation of a Google core algorithm update, don’t panic. In fact, if you’ve been creating high-quality content designed for readers, there’s a good chance your rankings will improve. But it may take time to notice the long-lasting effects of an update, as the most prominent symptom tends to be temporary ranking volatility. That’s why you should avoid making major strategy changes in the wake of an algorithm update, as you might inadvertently exacerbate what should be only a temporary dip in rankings. Instead, take this opportunity to check in on your performance and ensure your strategy is on track for continued success in the long run.
How To Respond to a Google Core Algorithm Update
1. Monitor Your Rankings
Many core algorithm updates take a few weeks or more to take full effect. During this period, you’ll likely notice some volatility in your keyword rankings. Use a reliable tracking tool, like Google Search Console, to regularly check in on your performance, but wait until rankings stabilize before jumping to any conclusions regarding the final impact.
2. Determine How the Update Impacted Your Performance
Hopefully you’ve been developing user-friendly content and your site’s rankings either improve or, bare minimum, remain the same following the algorithm update. But if you’re noticing a long-lasting drop in keyword rankings, it’s time to get to work to understand why.
Google deploys a combination of hundreds of ranking factors in each core algorithm update to help the search engine deliver the most relevant results. If your content isn’t making the cut, you’ll need to take a hard look at your strategy. Fortunately, Google releases a high-level overview of each core update that can provide some insight into where your content is falling short.
3. Take Action To Strengthen Your SEO Strategy
All of the SEO shortcuts and hacks to rank well are gone. Nowadays, a strong SEO strategy relies on producing high-quality content that tailors information to user intent. While the crux of this strategy entails answering questions and queries with reliable and well-written content, accurate information, and authoritative and unique insights, checking all of these boxes can be a daunting task. If you’re struggling to establish a strategy that can withstand the impacts of Google core algorithm updates, it may be time to talk to an SEO expert for help.
Why Google Algorithm Updates Are Actually Good for Your SEO Strategy
While you might feel like you’re being punished after Google releases an algorithm update and your rankings waver—or worse, tank—don’t take it personally. Instead, consider the intention of the update: What issue is the search engine trying to solve, and how will it help searchers ascertain answers to their queries more quickly? If your content is suffering, see it not as a punishment, but rather an opportunity to refine your strategy to better serve potential readers or customers. Take this opportunity for improvement and you’ll be on track to developing bulletproof content that can withstand even the most significant SERP shake-ups.