“Each day, Google usually releases one or more changes designed to improve our results. Some are focused around specific improvements. Some are broad changes. Last week, we released a broad core algorithm update. We do these routinely several times per year….” – Tweet sent out by Google SearchLiaison account via Danny Sullivan
In early March, rumors swirled about a possible Google algorithm update.
On March 12th, Google confirmed that a core algorithm update did indeed occur, however, the alteration is not what most people suspected it to be.
When Google confirmed the update, it noted that it was an amendment to its core algorithm; something that occurs several times throughout the year.
Core algorithm changes can result in one or more changes to the SERPs, but Google did not divulge exactly what changes were made, resulting in much speculation as to what exactly the search giant was targeting.
Google’s Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, took to Twitter to try and quell concerns by stating that Google was not after low-quality sites. Doing so, Sullivan made it unequivocally clear that sites who lost rankings should not be searching for a “fix,” as there isn’t one:
“There’s no ‘fix’ for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content. . .”
So, if Google is not after demoting low-quality content, what might the update be about?
The Broad Core Algorithm Update
It is rather uncommon for Google to address updates to its core algorithm, as this process happens on a near daily basis. This update, however, is not one of these typical updates; it is of the variety that occurs a few times per year.
While Google’s intentions are still unknown, we do have some information to help point SEOs and site owners in the right direction:
- The alteration was implemented with the aim of providing improved search results.
- There is no “fix” for sites that dropped in position.
- The update is focused on content, but it is not focused on quality.
A possible reason as to why Google did addresses this update is that SEOs continually assume that such alterations target quality. This paradigm, however, does not take into consideration that Google might just be attempting to create a better experience for search users, without going on a “seek and destroy” type mission. This notion has been posited time and again over the last several years, but Google has made continual efforts to dispel such claims.
Several years back, Google released information to the public about its algorithm. This data pointed to the fact that the company implemented at least two changes to its algorithm daily:
“…Our most experienced search engineers carefully review the data from all the different experiments and decide if the change is approved to launch. It sounds like a lot, but the process is well refined, so an engineer can go from idea to live on Google for a percentage of users in 24 hours. Based on all of this experimentation, evaluation and analysis, we launched 665 improvements to search in 2012.”
This illustrates why Google typically doesn’t address such matters. Despite this information being out in the wild, the same situation arose in late 2017 over the Maccabees “update.” Here’s what Danny Sullivan tweeted in response:
“Reports calling this a single ‘update’ or calling it ‘Fred’ don’t reflect what we actually said: there were several minor changes that happened as they routinely do in any particular week.”
So, if the update is not targeting quality, how is Google altering the SERPs and what actions should small business owners be taking to help minimize damage or capitalize on the situation?
What Google’s Likely Doing
When examining Google’s research papers, none of the 22 areas of focus is fixated on low quality content or webpages. The areas that do relate to search engine optimization are “understanding user intent” and “understanding content.”
Both elements are likely to be a part of Google Broad Core algorithm update. Given that it has been made explicitly clear that there is nothing wrong with sites that dropped in rankings and that there is nothing to fix, it is likely that the update merely enhanced Google’s understanding of content and how that applies to given search queries.
What You Should Be Doing
In the series of tweets sent out by Sullivan, the Google Liaison recommended waiting for content to, “…rise relative to other pages.” This is not the most proactive advice as this assumes that the people he is speaking to are publishing exceptional content; content that is more useful than that of their competition.
That said, the thing that small business owners should be focused on is creating outstanding content. Since that is such a subjective term, however, it needs a bit of defining.
Firstly, while keywords do matter, they should not be the zenith of your efforts. The core focus of your content should be to solve problems that people are having in your industry.
Google’s main purpose is to solve questions presented by users. Therefore, the engine is most likely to promote content that revolves around the same goal. When we talk about crafting outstanding content, this means to get to the absolute bottom of a user’s issue and address it comprehensively.
You will know if you are accomplishing this based on the response your content receives. You can help improve the value and usefulness of your content by making answers easy to find, creating a user-friendly layout, and delving deep into the topic at hand.
Google algorithm updates are nothing out of the norm. Neither is the core message of how to thrive amidst such changes: Create epic content.
This concept is not hard to grasp or implement. Spend the time necessary to craft preeminent materials for your audience, and Google will reward your efforts.
What are your thoughts on Google’s Broad Core algorithm change? Has it impacted your site, and if so, how?