How to Evaluate Search Algorithm Changes
Google is constantly finding new ways to update and improve its search algorithm, so much so that it is expected that the search engine giant makes up to 3,000 improvements to search each year. With almost 9 known and unknown updates taking place per day, it’s important to understand how these small yet often brutal updates can impact the visibility of your website.
As part of the work we carry out here at Absolute Digital Media, our teams keep a close eye on Google’s algorithm changes, trends and fluctuations in the SERPs in order to make sure that each of our clients remain ahead of their competitors. To find out how you can evaluate search algorithm changes, be sure to read on.
Table of Contents
- Types Of Search Algorithm Changes
- What Actually Happened?
- Keyword Sets
- Google E-A-T
- Panic Stations At The Ready
Types Of Search Algorithm Changes
There are a number of different types of search algorithm changes, with some of the most memorable updates of all time including the Maccabees update which occurred in December 2017 and the Google “Medic update” which rolled out in the first week of August in 2018. However, in order to evaluate how the latest search algorithm change will impact your business, you need to understand the different types of updates and what they mean for your website.
One of the biggest changes to date is Google’s “broad core algorithm updates” which occur a few times per week. In the past, such updates have often been kept unannounced, leaving the SEO world in the dark as to whether a broad core algorithm update has been rolled out across the network. However, in recent months, Google has been announcing these updates on their Twitter account @searchliason, allowing SEO’s to prepare better than they could before. They often go like this:
“This week, we released a broad core algorithm update, as we do several times per year. Our guidance about such updates remains as we’ve covered before. Please see these tweets for more about that: https://twitter.com/searchliaison/”
Despite Google’s timely announcements, their advice often remains the same:
“As with any update, some sites may note drops or gains. There’s nothing wrong with pages that may now perform less well. Instead, it’s that changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded.
There’s no “fix” for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.”
Some of the latest algorithm updates include the Diversity Update, Freshness Update and September 2019 Core Update, which you can read more about, here.
What Actually Happened?
In order to understand why your traffic changed, you need to be able to identify what has changed. As such, you need to pick out the page set(s) which experienced a significant change in traffic, which search engine(s) showed the change, whether it was specific to a geographical location and whether or not a similar pattern occurred in the previous year.
While analytics can help you answer most of the above, you can delve to a deeper level to identify exactly why your sites traffic changed.
To understand more about how a search algorithm update or change has affected the SERPs, you need to accumulate SERP data across all your major keyword sets including keyword ranking changes across groups related to your business.
As Google doesn’t always provide information prior to or after their algorithm updates, in some cases, it can be beneficial to take screenshots of the SERPs in order to better understand how the various layout changes may be reflected in the interface your rank tracking tool has to offer.
Whilst “there’s no “fix” for pages that may perform less well” Google suggest to “to remain focused on building great content,” because, “over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.”
To help businesses get to grips with what the search engine is looking for, Google created the Search Quality Rating Guidelines in 2015. The 167-page document can be used by small and large businesses, and is available online to download at any time, by anyone. They cover a wide range of topics including the purpose of search quality rating, the importance of expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T) and useful examples of lowest quality pages and medium quality pages.
Read more about how to improve your Google E-A-T rating, here.
Panic Stations At The Ready
If you have noticed a traffic change, don’t hit the alarm button just yet. Not every update is going to be a “big” update. Google ran 595,429 Search quality tests, 44,155 side-by-side experiments and 15,096 live traffic experiments last year and, out of all those experiments and tests, only a handful were felt. These updates are part of Google’s routine and are designed to “improve our results”, with some “focused around specific improvements” and, in many cases, there is often more chatter than signals of an algorithm update, so you don’t need to hit the alarm bells straight away.
Whilst there is no specific way to prepare your website for the next algorithm update, there are a number of things that you can consider. Keeping a close eye on Google’s ranking mood via AccuRanker is a good way to keep up to date with the various fluctuations in the SERPs. Essentially, the grumpier the mood, the more changes are taking place. It’s free and can be broken down by location and device for all your Google algorithm update preparation needs.
For more information about how to evaluate search algorithm changes and how to prepare for Google’s next broad core update, get in touch with a member of our expert team on 0800 088 6000, today.