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SEO: How to Respond to Google Algorithm Updates

05 Dec 2019 Leah Tagliarino
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in Digital, SEO

These days, Google’s core algorithm is updated more often than ever, which can change website rankings overnight. As a Stella Rising SEO expert, I am very attuned to news from the SEO world; lately, it feels like every other week I see a headline about another update that rocked the organic rankings of a major site. And while Google has even (finally) started announcing updates before they occur, it can be incredibly challenging to know how to prepare for or react to these big changes.

When Google updates occur, the information provided regarding what the update entails is typically vague. Google continues to reiterate their message that core algorithm updates aim to improve the quality of the search engine: i.e., the "best" sites will rank at the top of Google. But how can you know if your brand’s website is the "best" answer to a given query? Below are my recommendations on how to react to any given Google algorithm update.

FIRST: DON’T PANIC

It can be overwhelming to hear about a new algorithm update, especially if your brand’s site rankings and traffic were negatively impacted. Previously, recovering from algorithm updates was as simple as submitting a disavow file or removing duplicate content, updates that could be made in a matter of hours.

These days, in contrast, the algorithm updates are focused on much higher-level business practices; quick fixes to improve rankings immediately are unlikely. Therefore, it is important to not panic. Take your time, do the right research, and determine the best course of action. But what do I mean by the right research?

KNOW WHO TO TRUST

With so much information out there regarding Google algorithm updates, it is important to differentiate between good and bad advice. In the world of SEO, Twitter, and blogging, anyone can profess to be an expert. However, there are seasoned professionals whose jobs are to study Google's algorithm and effectively communicate the changes.

I recommend going straight to the source when seeking information: Google. Follow the Google Webmaster Central Blog and notable team members on Twitter:

  • Danny Sullivan - @dannysullivan
  • Gary Illyes - @methode
  • John Mueller - @JohnMu

These folks are always sharing important information about Google, which you know can be trusted because they work there!

Additionally, there are many notable SEO professionals in the industry who share helpful information. Good indicators of an SEO expert are that their tweets or blog posts are shared by Google team members, or that they are often quoted in the top SEO-focused blogs and journals:

  • Marie Haynes - @Marie_Haynes
  • Glenn Gabe - @glenngabe
  • Barry Schwartz - @rustybrick

Great blogs to read are:

TEST YOUR CHANGES

Once research has been completed and a plan developed for how to alter the website post-algorithm update, be sure to roll out changes slowly. If changes are made all at once, it can be very hard to tell which update made an impact. Try changing just one thing or a couple of things at a time; that way, rankings and traffic can be closely monitored to understand if changes are working.

If you are not seeing the desired improvements, changes can always be rolled back, or something else tried! Depending on the brand, CMS platform, and development cycle, the types of updates that an SEO expert would make to your website can be straightforward to implement. The team at Stella Rising is experienced with many different development frameworks and is always ready to take the lead in communicating with teams to improve websites post-algorithm update.

Once the changes have been made to the brand site, pages can be directly submitted to Google through Google Search Console. As Google can crawl and index websites very quickly, there should not be too much concern around making changes to see what is working.

For more information on how to adjust to Google algorithm updates, or how to better optimize your website for improved ranking results and revenue growth, reach out to the Stella Rising SEO team.

 

Digital SEO

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