If you have your finger on the SEO pulse, you'll remember that back in May there was suddenly a lot of noise and confusion from Webmasters surrounding a 10-20% rise or drop in many websites' Google ranking when compared to previous data. Google was asked to explain and confirm if this was an update to their Panda or Penguin search filters - and if so what for - but they strongly denied this, and even went as far as to say there was no Google update at all over this period.
The SEO community were left scratching their heads and continuing to analyse this ever changing data - but now their statement has now changed, Google has confirmed that there was a slight update; but not to its search filters - this time to its core ranking algorithm.
What does this mean for SEO?
Many SEO experts and Webmasters have done their own analysis on this sudden change in Google rankings and have published blogs based on their findings. It appears that any site with poor content, poor design and overall poor user experience will drop down in rankings, and previous sites that were not so high on the list have the chance to be closer to the top.
So why didn't Panda pick these errors up before? According to research, the filter had been battling with these sites previously and these poorly functioning sites did have fluctuating ranking data - so we imagine that Google has now found a way to deal with them for good.
Who has been affected?
There has been resounding agreement that poor content and overall user experience will affect a website's ranking in the new Google update, but there has been speculation on the type of website it's affecting. Hubspot have released an article (linked above) stating they believe How To and Information websites are the most hard hit.
However, if positive content and user experience is now a game changer for a website's Google rankings - it may well be that if a How To post has too little content, irritating pop ups and copious advert links, this could directly affect the user experience and therefore its position in the search results. The truth is, it doesn't look like its one particular industry or site category that will get affected - we are truly living in the digital age of content quality, over ranking quantity.
image credit: hubspot.com
What can you do to improve your ranking?
As much as the appearance of this Google update seems sudden, the overall outcome could be quite positive for well made, engaging websites. To ensure your website stays at a healthy search ranking, just make sure you follow these simple steps:
1. Make sure the content on your website is relevant, extensive and informative - sites with weak or disruptive content no longer do well. Google actually provide information on how to do this here.
2. Analyse your site's design and overall user experience; are there too many adverts or unnecessary pages and repeated links? Keep it clean, clear and concise.
3. Run a report to analyse the queries that actually caused fault - see if you can spot any specific engagement problems or drops in certain page activity and tackle the problem directly.
We hope your website hasn't been too badly affected by this algorithm update, the SEO community is pressing Google for more information on the wider plan and any future updates. In the mean time, if you do need any more advice or support with your digital marketing please get in touch with us directly.