It appears that the recent release of Google's algorithm affected a significant number of online businesses. The latest search engine's update went into effect on August 1rst, 2018. As a result, many of those who rely on Google's SERP to drive traffic to their business were significantly impacted. It's as if Google reshuffled the cards on the ranking deck and redistributed everything more or less randomly. While every major search engine update brings its load of complaints, the latest occurrence had a catastrophic effect on many businesses.
Of course, everything balances out in the end: as some fell, others climbed the ranks to take up the vacated spots.
In this short article, we'll look at what happened, decipher the "why," and see if there are ways to prevent the negative effects in the future.
Let's be real: nothing Google does qualify as random. Search results are no more arbitrary than the temperature. Because you cannot control nor indeed predict the temperature doesn't mean it's a purely random event, even though that event remains hard, if not impossible, to predict or control. What, then, just happened? The consensus is rather clear at this point: Google has shifted its focus and is now propping up content and businesses that carry more authority, as well as businesses that have a significant "local" presence.
If you find you've suddenly lost ranking for the keywords that matter to your business, then chances are that you are targeting "vital" domains such as personal health, nutrition, legal or finances. Those are markets that directly impact users' life. As it happened, they are the most prone to have suffered — or gained — from Google's algorithmic shuffle.
Google is working hard to determine how much it — and its users — can trust you. While we don't know the exact algorithms in play, we do identify the factors that influence this decision the most, and how to minimize their adverse effect. Here are some tips you can use to crack the code and ensure that Google doesn't ignore you.
Focus. Verticals beat horizontals. If you provide services, make sure they are well and tightly defined. The broader your scope of business, the less likely you are to be useful to actual customers. "We provide the best help with home mortgage financing" will always work better than "We can help you with your finances."
Be Patient. Don't expect Google to change its mind quickly. Your investment in content will pay off if, and only if it is consistent. Sustained, quality content published consistently is the way to go. It'll take a long time, but you will get there.
Organize. Your content — anything you make accessible to Google and the public — need to be regularly re-evaluated. Material that does not perform well, or that is below the median level of quality that your web properties otherwise provide, should be removed or archived. Google prefers to visit those of us who keep their house in order and their old crap in the attics.
Shine. Make sure that real people with real bios sign all your material. All articles should have authors; all authors should have bios; all bios should have plenty of links to real accomplishments or credentials. This boots your articles' authority well beyond what simple backlinks can accomplish.
Brag. Provide clear reasons you or your business should be the one that visitors select for their next purchase or project. Provide links, list experiences, awards, or anything that will make you stand out.
Chit Chat. Whatever you sell, make sure it's being talked about. Invite your users to review your products and to participate in discussions. This will help your reputation, and that's what Google is looking for.
Star. Reach out to influential people and make sure they talk about you. Avoid relying solely on paid representation — hired journalists and trade media — and instead work towards getting the word out to people whose opinion matter. Don't underestimate Google or the public: both can quickly tell the difference between a paid-for review and one from an actual user.
To the small business owner, the steps required to reach SEO greatness may seem overwhelming. Business owners have things to do with their lives, other than maintaining a website; things like running their business, for example. From a consumer perspective, it's fair game. SMB owners have to remain patient, set their target closer to home, stick with quality content and get their name out there. Now go out and fight as if your business life depended on it. And may the best man/woman/organization win!
For a detailed and rather lengthy explanation of the impact of the newest Google algorithm update, check out this article by Marie Haynes, a leading expert in SEO.