Google’s recent algorithm update this week is shaking things up for many small businesses. Not because of the update itself, because Google releases updates on a fairly regular basis. There are small updates that happen every day, and larger ones a few times a year.
Google Updates Core Algorithm
Google updates their core algorithm approximately every day. Thus, previous Fred and Phantom updates were not generally officially announced. The so-called updates were based largely on unreliable anecdotal evidence.
This algorithm update is different because it was officially announced and it was said to be a broad core algorithm update. This means that it’s a major change in how the algorithm functions.
This update is unique because Google is offering no solution to the drop in rankings that some business websites are experiencing.
Ordinarily, Google offers recommendations for improvement, but no such luck this time. Now, they’re asking you to fix what’s… not broken? Google has said that some sites lost rankings not because they were spammy or low quality, but because other sites improved their rankings. Everyone in the SEO industry loves to focus on the sites that lost rankings to determine what went wrong, but often forget about the user’s preference.
For example, Google’s clickthrough data shows that for a specific search query, users prefer informational sites with lots of copy over commercial sites, Google will begin changing and promoting informational sites to the top of the search results. It’s the difference between wanting to find out more about March Madness through a search for “basketball,” rather than the actual ball for sale. No matter how much SEO you do or how many links you obtain to your site, Google is never going to rank it at the top because it’s just not what users want to see. What users want to see is one of the most important ranking factors for websites.
What This Means For Your Business
Great question! Just like with March Madness, if you want to win, focus on what the winners do. This is the same for the most recent change in Google’s algorithm. Instead of focusing on what the websites that dropped in rankings did, focus on the websites that rose up in rankings.
Asking questions is one of the best ways to keep your eyes on the prize!
- Do the winners have more name recognition?
- Are the winners informational, educational or commercial?
- Where geographically are the sites located?
- What is different about the winning pages from your pages?
Once you’ve determined the reasons why a specific site may have risen in rankings, you can begin to work towards a strategy. As with March Madness, it’s likely that the reason another site gained rankings is that the user enjoys their website more. They’ve listened to their fans, reviewed their mistakes, and put in the work on the (proverbial) court.
Once you have identified the reasons why a site may have gained rankings, you can now begin the process formulating a strategy. But remember, it is very likely that the reason another site gained rankings is that their site satisfies the user intent better. Identifying that user intent is, in my opinion, important.