Algorithm is a funny-sounding word, but add it to your digital marketing vocabulary today. An algorithm is a series of instructions to help a program perform a task. Google’s algorithms were created to help its search engine find, rank, and provide relevant pages in response to search queries. Google’s system is composed of many moving parts–figuratively speaking. By necessity, their algorithm is constantly being improved. Updates are common, and can alter search results instantaneously, placing you higher or lower on the page. So, what does a Google algorithm update mean for your business? Here’s how to weather the occasional search engine storm.
So…What’s an Algorithm Update?
A Google algorithm update is a change to their current means of finding, ranking, and rewarding the best quality content with higher placement on a search results page. Google is constantly testing and changing its algorithm–by some accounts up to 500 to 600 times a year–and collecting data to improve users’ experiences. The majority of these updates are small, and often several updates are implemented in a single day. But there are occasional major or core algorithm updates that can shake up an entire industry. That’s great for searchers, but it can make things more hectic for you. For small businesses a drop in site traffic can be staggering. But there are ways to know when and if an update is coming, and how you can react to it.
Tools of the Trade
No matter who runs your company’s marketing strategy–whether you have a CMO, work with outside consultants, or run it yourself–stay educated about changes to their search ranking algorithms. Keeping abreast of changes is easy. With Google Analytics and Google Search Console, you can check individual pages and queries and see which ones have changed since the last update. Software as a service (SaaS) platforms like Semrush and SEO and data management software like Moz are also good investments, allowing you to track keyword rankings and link data, and adjust your content accordingly.
Of course, it’s better to be ready rather than to react. Google announces some major updates well in advance, but minor updates are often revealed the same day, if they’re announced at all. Skim news sites like Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, and especially Search Engine Round Table. They regularly post articles and alerts on Google’s changes. Tools like Lighthouse Audits–available through Chrome–allow you to test your web pages, showing scores on how fast they’re loading, the number of bytes transferred, and suggestions for improvement that aid results. Finally, watch for buzz on social media sites like Twitter. Google’s liaisons often respond to tweets about updates.
What does a Google algorithm update mean for your business and how can you prepare? Your best defense is ensuring you’re using white hat SEO tactics and in compliance with Google’s best practices and content guidelines.
When an algorithm update occurs, and your pages aren’t getting as much traffic or don’t rank as well for relevant queries, then it probably means you need to update, adjust, or add to your content for those pages. Ensure meta tags and structured data are still intact and reflect the fresh content for each updated page. Continue to interact and engage with users through blogging on topics they’re searching for and related to your business–it’s one of the easiest ways to show users (and Google) that you are an expert in your field and an authoritative source of information.
Share and promote your content and pages through social channels and business profiles to attract links from content creators. Lastly, keep your business information up to date, both on your site and on off-site business profiles (such as Google Business Profile, Yelp, BBB, and others).
For professional marketing services and support on recovering from Google algorithm changes, consult with Logical Position!