What to do after a Google Core update

Google’s core update is rolling out, this began rolling out on September 12th and according to Google, it can take up to 2 weeks to propagate across its data centres. On September 20th Google rolled out a subsquent updated called the Product reviews update, again with two weeks to fully roll out.

What is Google’s broad core update?

The broad core update is a global update, not specific to any region, language, or website category. The aim of a broad core update is to better asses search queries and their intent and deliver more relevant results to its users. This inevitably will result in some sites gaining visibility and some sites losing visibility.

 

Why has my site lost/gained visibility?

It’s important to remember that any broad core update is not targeted at your site in particular. If you’ve had a decline in Organic Visibility, it’s normally because Google believes it’s found better results for the search query. Although that is somewhat subjective.

 

I’ve lost visibility, what shall I do next?

Firstly, we’d recommend waiting for the update to fully roll out before making any SEO changes. It can take up to two weeks for an update to settle, followed by a period of quiet, and then subsequent updates as the Google engineers make further tweaks based on the data collected.

Secondly, After the two weeks has completed there will be some “winners” and “losers” and within your vertical/niche it would be advisable to review the sites that have gained visibility vs the sites that have lost visibility.

Depending on the site and your reporting platform, the type of reports you run will differ, but this is generally a good starting place:

  • Impression change by URL pre/post update
  • Clicks change by URL pre/post update
  • Average position by URL pre/post update
  • Unique count (site) of ranking keywords pre/post update
  • Ranking keywords position change pre/post update

 

This should give you a better indication of both pages and search terms which have gained/lost visibility. Once you have an idea of where the movement is,  you can start examining both your own site vs the sites which have gained visibility.

From this,  you should start evaluating all the different factors that influence search positioning such as authority, relevance, speed. Compare your sites vs your competitors, and start asking yourself questions:

  • Do your competitors have more relevant content for the search query?
  • Does your site offer a better user experience than the competitor?
  • Does your competitor have stronger authority than your site?

 

Being self-critical is tough, but we’re told relentlessly by Google to focus on offering the best possible user experience. This should be central to any SEO strategy and attempts to game their algorithm will normally result in short-term gains.

Build an action plan

Once you’ve collated your data and your findings, you can start building a plan for improving your site. For each line item give it both a priority and impact to help prioritise your effort. Make sure to include this into your existing SEO strategy and not derail it completely due to the algorithmic update.

 

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