Google Search Algorithm Update
This month Google started rolling out a broad core algorithm update, which as they say “is aimed at promoting sites that were once undervalued.”
On August Google started rolling out a broad core algorithm update, which as they say “is aimed at promoting sites that were once undervalued.”
This algorithm update was nicknamed “medic” by the SEO community, as a huge percentage of the sites impacted by this update are specifically in the medical, health, fitness, healthy lifestyle space according to a survey filled by over 300 site owners that were hit by this update. The second huge group of sites that were impacted are e-commerce, business and financial sites. You can see more on the pie chart below.
The top 30 sites, which gained or lost the most amount of traffic during this update can be found by following this link, that MOZ’s tool spotted. This tool monitors sites that rank in Google search results for the top 10,000 most important in MOZ opinion keywords/phrases.
There is a lot of speculation in the SEO community that this update targeted a group of pages called by Google “YMYL” (“Your Money or Your Life”), which Google describes as “…pages [that] could potentially impact the future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety of users.” Because of the impact that these sites can have on people’s lives, they are held to a higher standard. It looks like, Google might be raising the required what they call “EAT” (“Expertise, Authority and Trust”), that these sites must meet to rank at the top of the search results. Google uses EAT to evaluate the quality of these pages.
On the 20th of July, Google updated the Search Quality Rater Guidelines, which is used by people who Google hires to evaluate the quality of their search results. They manually search for specific keywords/phrases in Google that the company from Mountain View wants to check at that time, and rate sites that appear on the search results page based on the guidelines specified in the document by Google. This recently updated document focuses even more on reputation and expertise that the site has. One of the things that they added to this version of guidelines is that the creators of the Main Content needs to have the necessary expertise to talk about a topic, which I assume should be easy to find/verify for users and Google, otherwise the page might be rated as low quality.
“ Low-quality pages may have been intended to serve a beneficial purpose. However, Low-quality pages do not achieve their purpose well because they are lacking in an important dimension, such as having an unsatisfying amount of MC, or because the creator of the MC lacks the expertise for the purpose of the page.
“Below are some actions that we come up with during the first brainstorming session to improve the site’s EAT, and recover the lost traffic. Hopefully, they will give you some inspiration.
- Emphasising expertise of the team in their bios on the home page, about page, blog, etc.
- Adding bios of some of the engineers working within the company to the home and about page (at the moment there are only bios of sales and customer service representatives).
- Adding more technical information on the product pages, and explaining each information on the product pages to make it more helpful and useful to users.
- Preparing content creation guidelines to improve the quality of published articles and streamline the process of writing new articles.
- Encouraging and helping engineers within the company to start publishing articles on the site and 3rd-party sites by working closely with them during the content creation process.
- Publishing sponsored guest posts in online magazines, and medium and large blogs about the industry to attract new users who are interested in cars to the site, improve the perceived .authority, and increase the number of authoritative backlinks to the site (they almost never agree to publish your article on their sites for free).
- Publishing guest posts on smaller blogs about the industry
- Creating and adding videos about products to product pages and the homepage.
- Discussing extending the return and warranty period to match those offered by some of the top competitors.
- Reaching out to past customers and asking them to leave the business review on Google My Business or a product review on the website.
- Improving the design of the site.
Some of the above actions were influenced by the fact that we started to see more videos appearing on the search results pages when we searched for important keywords/phrases. Also, Google shared in one of their recent Think with Google articles, that “One of the most eye-grabbing data points is that nearly 9 out of 10 shoppers are not absolutely certain of the brand they want to buy when they begin looking for information online via their smartphones.” and “80% of smartphone users are more likely to purchase from companies whose mobile sites or apps help them easily find answers to their questions.”
The core algorithm update that rolled out this month was massive and many sites across the web were impacted. Although there were a lot of health sites impacted, many others in non-YMYL categories were affected as well. If you have been negatively impacted by the 8/1 update, then it’s important to objectively analyse your site to find ways to improve. And remember, there’s never one smoking gun. There’s usually a battery of them. So wait just wait for the next Google search algorithm update.