Back in March, the SEO community was shaken by a particularly influential core Google algorithm update.
On the 12th of the month, Google confirmed they had yet again introduced substantial changes to the code that’s responsible for indexing and listing billions of web pages in the world’s most popular search engine.
It was the first major roll-out of the year – and Google’s search team have since hinted that we can expect more broad updates to take place in the weeks and months to come.
For now, though, some SEOs find themselves frantically adjusting their search strategies in a bid to recover their search traffic and ensure their websites adhere to Google’s newest set of guidelines.
Was Google’s latest algorithm update a surprise to SEOs?
Not really. Google can be notoriously tight-lipped about its updates, but we expect its search engineers to release at least three or fore ‘core’ updates every year.
Other minor tweaks are taking place all the time, but these bigger, broader updates tend to have more of an influence on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
How do we know it’s for real?
Google doesn’t always tell us when it’s going to release a core update – but Danny Sullivan, Google’s own search adviser, was the one who officially confirmed this latest roll-out via Twitter on 13th March.
How has the March 2019 Core Update impacted search positions?
Some health sites have been widely affected…
Data analysis has shown that the latest Google core algorithm update has mainly affected websites that sit within the health and finance industries.
Some marketers refer to these sites as ‘Your Money or Your Life’ (YMYL) platforms, because they contain content that could encourage the reader to make life-changing decisions.
…whilst others have recovered spectacularly
However, what’s interesting is that this most recent algorithm change has improved the fortunes of many of the health websites that fared badly after Google’s last large-scale update, which took place in August 2018 and was dubbed the ‘Medic’ Update thanks to its seemingly negative impact on many health-related domains.
Webmasters have lost positions for niche pages
Research carried out by Searchmetrics has suggested that websites that have been created to talk about one single, health-sensitive subject have suffered the biggest hits.
They have theorised that these single-purpose sites simply don’t look as trustworthy to Google, which appears to be favouring high authority platforms that deal with a wider range of topics (especially for sensitive health-related keywords that typically return a higher volume of YMYL sites).
User signals are more important than ever
Sites that can keep their users engaged for longer seem to have benefited the most from this core algorithm update. Again, this indicates that user trust is becoming increasingly important to Google.
Domains that achieve more page views per visit and have a lower bounce rate have been awarded with better rankings across the board. On the flip side, those that are struggling to keep readers onsite have seen noticeable drops in positions. This tells us that Google is using basic engagement data to determine whether or not the page is a valuable or useful resource for browsers.
What actions do you need to take to make sure your site isn’t affected by this core update?
We can’t deny that the March 2019 Core Update has left SEOs who are responsible for optimising YMYL sites feeling a little nervous.
But for everyday webmasters, it’s very much business as usual.
If you want to avoid being penalised by any of Google’s core algorithm updates, focus on:
- Improving the accessibility and usability of your site
- Creating unique, engaging content that encourages your readers to stick around on your pages for longer
- Building on the authority of your domain by claiming links and citations from trusted, relevant sources
Stick to these three principles, and you should never see your positions plummet as a result of a core Google update.
If you think your website has been adversely affected by Google’s March 2019 Core Update, talk to the team of experts here at ClickSlice. We’ll benchmark your current performance, then suggest an update-proof search strategy that’s designed to increase your search exposure sustainably over time, without resorting to poor practice or bad SEO tactics.