Google is keeping busy this year with a slew of broad updates that will have a tangible impact on the way that millions of websites appear in organic search.
For those involved in the SEO community, you will have noticed an increase in chatter on twitter and a number of SEO news websites from concerned SEO specialists trying to understand what all of these updates mean.
For those on the front line (website owners) who are feeling the effect of Google’s algorithm updates, you may be trying to understand what all of this means. Following on from the core algorithm update in December 2020, a minor update in January, and another update in May 2021 – your SEO rankings are probably a bit all over the place.
It’s important to remember that the affects you are experiencing from Google’s updates are likely to be felt by your competitors too. Broad updates are not localised to one niche, website, or location – they affect all websites globally. Before you wallow in self-pity – take comfort in knowing that millions of websites are going through the same rollercoaster as you.
Why Have I Been Targeted?
It is important to remember that you have not been targeted or hit with a manual penalty. This is a routine core update and if you have been affected, it may be time to review your content strategy.
The goal behind the core updates is to improve the quality of results for Google users. Google is looking to weed out low-quality sites and ensure that they are delivering a positive user experience to ensure that they keep their overwhelming market share when it comes to search engine traffic.
If your website has been affected by a core update, Google is essentially telling you that you need to improve the quality of your website. Whether that is on-page experience, content quality, internal navigation, or a myriad of other factors – it comes down to improving the on-site experience for your website users.
If Google determines that you are over optimising your transactional pages to game your way to the top of the listings for money-generating search terms – you are likely to be exposed by an update. Google wants to reward websites that feed into a positive organic search ecosystem. If you are delivering value to users beyond trying to sell a product or service – you are likely to see a positive uptick in search rankings and traffic.
How Should I React Now?
If your rankings are up or down – don’t celebrate or wallow in despair just yet. Google has already stated that on twitter through the Search Liaison Account:
“Of course, any core update can produce drops or gains for some content. Because of the two-part nature of this release, it’s possible a very small slice of content might see changes in June that reverse in July….”
To us, this means that if you saw a drastic uptick or downturn in traffic that can be directly associated to the June 2021 Core Update – we wouldn’t celebrate just yet. There is a possibility that any gains or losses will be reversed by the July 2021 Core Update.
Why Are There So Many Updates This Year?
Let’s be clear, this is an inordinate number of updates in a very short space of time. Anyone in the SEO community will tell you that working in the industry can be a rollercoaster. But even by industry standards the period between May-July 2021 will go down in the history books as one of the most extreme period of volatility.
Here is what webmasters have been contending with over the last month and what is coming over the next month.
- May 20th 2021 – unconfirmed Google Update
- June 3rd 2021 – Google Core Update
- June 12th 2021 – Google Page Experience Update
- Early July 2021 – Google Core Update Pt.2
- July 28th – Google Link Spam Update
Google originally planned to release the Page Experience Update in May 2021, however, due to timeline issues, that has blown out by around two months and will not finish rolling out until August 2021. As far as the other updates go, it seems as though Google has collected in an inordinate amount of user data and are now pushing out a series of updates in order to improve the user experience in 2021.
My Traffic Has Dropped Dramatically – What Now?
Like we mentioned above, we would strongly encourage you to wait until the July 2021 Core Update has rolled out before making any drastic changes. If your website traffic has dropped significantly over the last few months, there are a few things that you can do to try and understand the origins of these changes and what you can do to combat them.
- Review your page experience metrics. Google has been warning about the page experience update for more than a year. It started to roll out a few weeks ago so it may be worth investigating your website metrics. The Google Page Speed insights is an essential tool for improving your page experience metrics. Look you your LCP, FID, and CLS Metrics. Here, you’ll see a list of actionable steps that you can take to improve the overall on-page experience of your visitors. It’s a good idea to compare your website to those ranking well to understand if this is a factor. So far, we have not seen a strong enough correlation between good rankings and good page experience metrics to say that you should spend too much time going down this rabbit hole.
- Identify whether specific pages have dropped in rankings and traffic or whether there has been a sitewide drop. If the change in traffic and rankings is affecting a limited number of pages, we would suggest reviewing the content on those pages and comparing it to competitors that are ranking well. If there has been a site wide drop, wait it out until the July update has finished rolling out before updating content.
- Take a look in your Google Search Console dashboard for any messages or notifications from Google that may relate to any of the above points.
- Is your content abiding by Google E-A-T? Make sure that your content shows off your expertise, authority, and trust. Refer to your high-ranking competitors to assess where your content may be lacking on the E-A-T scale.
- Create better content. Above all, your website should be immune to most core updates if you are consistently striving to create content that delivers value to users. When creating new content, ensure that you are adding value to your users.
Our best advice and the advice that we are giving to our SEO Agency clients is this – wait until the dust settles. We are in the midst of an avalanche of Google updates. Before you make drastic changes, let Google decide where the ball will land and then make any changes after the July 2021 Core Update.
If you make widespread updates now, you are making it difficult to pinpoint whether any ranking or traffic drops can be attributed to Core Updates or the updates that you are implementing.