Google has rolled out a major algorithmic update which means there are winners and losers. Here's what to do if your site is negatively impacted...
Google is continually tweaking its search algorithms. Usually, several minor updates get rolled out each day and is one of the reasons you see minor fluctuations in your website's search rankings.
And several times a year Google rolls out significant changes to its core search algorithm. These can result in major changes in who ranks where in search results.
Google has announced on Twitter that they've rolled out a major update in the last week.
This is going to result in ranking changes, with some sites dropping and others rising in the search results. In other words, there are winners and losers from this update.
Apparently, this algorithm isn't geared towards negatively impacting sites that contravene Google's guidelines, the way updates like Panda and Penguin have done.
Instead, the algorithm update is relevancy focused. Pages perceived by Google to have the most relevance for a search query are rewarded with improved rankings.
And of course that means the rankings of less relevant pages drop.
First off, don't panic. Sit tight for a couple of weeks before doing anything radical.
Every time Google has rolled out major updates they've subsequently rolled out a tuning update which can roll back some of the changes.
What you should do meantime is monitor rankings and organic search traffic to identify what, if any, pages on your website are negatively impacted by this update. If they are, it means that the pages have been displaced by competing pages which Google perceives to be more relevant.
What you'll need to do is carefully review the top ranking pages that are ahead of yours in the rankings. You need to identify what factors they have in common and which your page doesn't.
Don't just focus on looking at their inbound links or on-page SEO factors like title tags. Yes, these are important, but what it's likely to be is related to page content.
Compare the amount of content top ranking pages have compared to yours (typically longer form content ranks better).
Look at their page structure - do top ranking pages engage readers better by featuring more images and embedded videos than yours?
Then read their content and ask yourself, does it better address search query intent than yours?
Once you've reviewed pages that Google perceives to be more relevant than yours and identified what they have in common that's half the battle.
Something that can also help you identify what you need to do to improve your website is Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines.
This guide provides detailed insights into how Google defines what a high quality site is and is used by Google's Quality Raters. These are people whose role is to assess the quality of the results being returned by Google's search algorithm.
In other words, how good a job is Google doing in providing relevant results that satisfy user intent? They do this by reviewing sites against the Search Quality Rating Guidelines.
Reviewing your own website pages against these guidelines is time-consuming but can be very insightful. Doing this can give you specific ideas about what you need to change to improve page relevancy.
You now know what changes you need to make your page more relevant than competitors and improve your rankings in Google search results.
Mark is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire which he founded back in 2002. Prior to establishing SureFire he worked for KPMG Consulting. Today Mark heads up SEO, embracing the challenges that can come with complex website implementations. Outside of work, his interests beyond his family are running, snowsports, diving and fishing (badly).