Don’t freak out, but Google has rolled out an updated core algorithm, meaning the rules of this wild SEO ride may be changing yet again. Google officially launched the new algorithm rollout on Dec. 3, 2020, with the expectation that it would take a couple of weeks to settle fully in place.
Why should you care?
Google’s algorithms are super important to entrepreneurs or any business with a website or blog. If nobody sees the blog you’re writing or finds your website, how will you ever attract new customers or advertisers? Entire books have been written and companies formed over the concept of helping others find the key to unlocking the Search Engine Optimization secrets.
Oh no, what are they up to now?
Because Google is the most frequently used browser, ranking on the first page is a highly coveted feat. Everyone wants their business or blog to rank on the first page (or two). Being able to move up in the search rankings means more people find you, and your pageviews increase. If you are selling something, that means you have a better chance of making a sale. If you are selling ad space or looking to be sponsored otherwise, pageviews are crucial to proving your value to those sponsors and advertisers.
This means, of course, that every time Google rolls out a new core algorithm, there is much clutching of pearls and slapping of foreheads among SEO experts, marketers, publishers, bloggers, and really anyone who works in e-commerce. The truth is, the rollout could very well be a good thing. Especially if the last core algorithm change reduced your pageviews. If you have been working on optimizing your website and improving SEO, this could attract a higher ranking.
Trends we are seeing with the new core algorithm
Google doesn’t merely change the algorithm to toy with or annoy us, although it can feel that way. Their constant tweaking of the algorithm has a purpose–to weed out phishers, lurkers, spammers, and the rest of the bad agents, in order to place your desired results in front of you.
Expect to see changes, though. Good or bad, Google changes their algorithms with intention, and that means you will surely see a change in rankings and, therefore, pageviews. As Search Engine Journal in a pre-launch story puts it, “Broad core updates are designed to produce widely noticeable effects across search results in all countries in all languages.”
Remember, though, “different” doesn’t mean “bad.” Matching search engine users with the content most relevant to them should bring you that much closer to your target audience. SEO Roundtable, for example, has seen an increase in traffic since the core algorithm rollout.
Rank fluctuations so far have been significant, according to early data. SEMRush for Search Engine Land determined that “Desktop search changes were most felt in the health, real estate, travel, finance, law and government and on mobile search health, law and government, jobs and education, pets & animals, real estate.”This is likely good news for sites with e-commerce, who have been worried how the core algorithm update would impact holiday shopping sales.
The holidays themselves, not to mention the overall weirdness of the pandemic causing changes in 2020, may make it more difficult to discern whether the ranking and pageview changes are directly related to the core algorithm update or to a handful of other factors. The update may not be entirely rolled out, either.
What should you do now?
What is clear from this core algorithm update is that most sites will notice a difference. The best way to stay ahead is to continue to follow Google’s guidelines for websites. In a nutshell, continue to keep your users in mind when creating content, not search engines. Use keywords, but don’t try to game the system; relevance is key.
Your home page should provide users with all the information they need to see what the site is about and how to interact for the intended purpose (e.g., for shopping or reading an article). The website should be maintained from the back end, making sure it’s functional and safe for users. It’s still a really good thing to have other sites link back to your content. As always, providing relevant, clearly defined, and high quality content is super important.
If you notice a big negative impact, reevaluate what you are doing. If your website appears to be tanking, consider how to improve the relevance and quality of your web content and/or the functionality. Website rankings are a moving target, and Google likes movement. Keep creating and publishing. Continue considering the wants, needs, and online habits of your target users. Remember that Google updates their core algorithm updates, which are global, a few times a year.