Google updates come and go. And sometimes websites pay the price.
When this happens, it can be tough when you’ve noticed a drop in rankings and traffic, but there’s nothing wrong with your site.
Core algorithm updates are one such update where this can happen.
Google’s advice? Do nothing.
Google says if a core update has impacted your site, you “don’t have anything wrong to fix.”
“There’s nothing wrong with pages that may perform less well in a core update. They haven’t violated our webmaster guidelines nor been subjected to a manual or algorithmic action, as can happen to pages that do violate those guidelines. In fact, there’s nothing in a core update that targets specific pages or sites. Instead, the changes are about improving how our systems assess content overall. These changes may cause some pages that were previously under-rewarded to do better.”
Confused? Let’s look closer at core updates, and then I’ll share some ways to improve your site so it will not just survive an update – but maybe even thrive.
So you can’t “fix” a core update. Then why did you lose rankings and traffic?
Good question with an easy answer – your competition was the least imperfect.
What I mean by least imperfect is that we can’t know the countless signals in Google’s algorithm. So we will never be perfect in SEO.
But we do have best practices.
Those who do their best to optimize their website and are better at being least imperfect from their competition will be awarded.
And that means better rankings than the competition in the search results.
So what about these core updates – how do they work?
Assume for a moment your competition did some things well, and so did you – basically, everyone did things right and nothing wrong.
But perhaps the algorithm update grouped some variables synergistically, or maybe the weighted averages shifted or classes of sites (informational versus navigational) were rewarded with a meatier weight in the algorithm.
You still did nothing wrong.
And maybe your competition put their SEO efforts and emphasis on the rewarded variables, so they became “least imperfect” in that algorithm update.
You did everything right, but other sites did the right things “righter.”
So how do you become least imperfect and get your rankings back?
Since the issue is not a penalty, we can ignore much of the Google penalty advice (for example, bad links).
Instead, we’ll focus on the positive things you can do to improve your website.
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Let's look next at four ways to improve your site, so you can better weather core updates:
Even though Google says there's nothing to do after a core update, they often advise to focus on website content if you want to improve a website:
Google also says this in its help file on core algorithm updates:
"… we understand those who do less well after a core update change may still feel they need to do something. We suggest focusing on ensuring you're offering the best content you can. That's what our algorithms seek to reward."
So here are some general questions to consider when reviewing your website content:
That's just for starters.
Take a deep dive into your webpages, and consider some of the things that make a webpage a high-quality resource, including:
Google provides a list of content-related questions in its help file on core updates.
How you organize the content on a website is almost as important as content quality.
SEO siloing is a technique I invented in 2000 that groups like-content together based on how people search.
In addition, it sets a website up to be an authority and expert on a subject matter by providing complete answers through multiple pages of quality content on a topic.
This helps to create relevance.
Relevance helps the search engine understand that a website is the best for a query.
SEO siloing also supports the navigation of a site, making it easy for both search engines and website visitors to find content.
If you're unfamiliar with the concept of siloing, let me illustrate.
The image below shows how you might group categories of topics for a power tools site that sells cordless power tools, electric power tools and gas-powered tools.
In this example, the site has one major theme (power tools), and it is supported by three major categories: cordless power tools, electric power tools and gas-powered tools. Within each category, there are subcategories.
Having rich content in each silo that's organized in this way does a couple of things:
Google believes this a good strategy, too:
"The navigation of a website is important in helping visitors quickly find the content they want. It can also help search engines understand what content the webmaster thinks is important. Although Google's search results are provided at a page level, Google also likes to have a sense of what role a page plays in the bigger picture of the site."
In short: Siloing is a tried-and-true, evergreen SEO strategy that, when implemented as part of an SEO program, can help create a quality website that can withstand core updates.
Your internal link strategy can impact SEO and can:
Siloing is a form of linking together internal pages, but other types of internal links matter.
Examples of internal links include the main navigation, footer links, contextual links and related content links.
Linking from a blog is obvious, but remember that while you add pages to the site, they all need to be considered as part of the linking strategy.
Some internal linking best practices you might consider include:
SEO is not just about having a great website. It's about beating the competition in the search results.
An SEO audit can help you create a strategy for doing as good or better than the competition.
Remember, though, that many SEO audits are focused only on repair.
Repair-based SEO audits are so popular because there is such a huge need for most sites to be fixed;. It is easy for an SEO agency or consultant to wander through a site and find things that need repair.
So you repair a site, and you are rewarded for it.
But suddenly, you see a shift in the reward process (like a core update), and you need to do the right things better than the others – you need to be least imperfect.
This is why you want the audit that makes you more competitive so that you can better weather core updates and other necessary repairs.
There are no guarantees that a core update won't shake things up for any website, but you can prepare.
Remember: Those who do their best to optimize their website and are better at being least imperfect from their competition will be awarded.
Implementing SEO strategies that are proven to improve website quality for visitors and search engines is the first line of defense.
The post How to survive a Google core update and come out on top appeared first on Search Engine Land.
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