Google’s September core algorithm update has officially finished rolling out, and with any core update, search results, click-through rates, and traffic may change—sometimes drastically and unpredictably.
According to Search Engine Land’s review of SEO toolsets and data, this past update was not as impactful as the June core update, but it did seem to have a notable effect on the Your Money – Your Life (YMWL) category. It also appears to have most heavily affected the medical, media, and travel industries, according to Sistrix.com.
Google updates will always come and go, and while some have bigger impacts than others, the consensus has always been that it’s nearly impossible to find a quick fix for traffic drops in response. Rather than following every Google update extensively and guessing at what changes will fix traffic drops, there are more sustainable alternatives you might want to invest in for your business.
Taking A More Wholistic Approach
Updates for Google are quite common and usually not very impactful overall, although they may be quite impactful in the short term. Last year, Google made over 3,200 algorithm changes. Core updates occur less frequently, but still occur a few times per year.
Google’s algorithm updates used to focus primarily on weeding out sites that used black-hat link building techniques, clickbait, and other shady tactics, but over the years it’s become much more complicated than that.
The algorithm has gotten so smart that it can now focus on evaluating whether websites are optimized for user experience and include quality content. This is not a clear-cut process, and for this reason, it involves a lot of tweaking on Google’s part that can hit websites and their place on Google’s search result list unpredictably—sometimes increasing traffic, sometimes decreasing it, and usually not following much of a clear pattern that can be traced, analyzed, and strategized for.
Rather than trying to find quick-fixes for traffic that has been affected by Google updates, its time to take a more holistic approach. Trying to keep up with every Google update and make guesses and quick changes to reverse traffic downturns can be exhausting and sometimes completely ineffective. Even if you do succeed in correcting the fallback from a google update, the next one might revere your recovery completely.
Taking an Omnichannel Approach
Despite the importance of Google traffic, relying on one marketing channel can cause a lot of instability. Taking an omnichannel approach is the best way to ensure that your website will continually generate reliable traffic—even if a Google update does unexpectedly knock you down a few pegs.
The search page rankings have become so competitive that even a tiny disruption to the status quo has the potential to push certain web pages higher in the rankings and push others lower. Since nearly all search users click on an entry on the first page of results (that is, the first 10 entries), this change could make a website’s pages virtually invisible to searchers overnight.
But if a search engine algorithm update has such a huge effect on the search results, why would we ask whether algorithms even matter and suggest predominantly ignoring them? Because Google has already told the digital marketing community exactly what all of its algorithm updates will be designed to do.
Google is always trying to do a better job of analyzing web pages, assessing quality, and matching them in terms of relevance to keyword phrase searches made by users. This isn’t meant to be an impossible puzzle for marketers to crack—it’s an ongoing cooperative effort that’s meant to benefit customers and marketers alike in the long run.
The main reason why this has been such a clunky process is actually because web marketers have been so bent on circumventing a system geared towards quality with cheap, quick fixes.
Rather than listening to Google’s insistence on just creating quality, relevant content that is user friendly, marketers are examining each algorithm change critically and making very targeted changes in order to “game” the system. While this may work in the short-term, it causes long-term traffic spikes as Google catches on to these techniques and works to level the playing field towards true quality.
So rather than making this tug-of-war struggle much more than it needs to be, we recommend instead focusing on organic search traffic and methods for authentically improving the quality of your website—even if they might not have such immediate gratification.
The great thing about organic search traffic strategies is that they aren’t reliant on Google’s sporadic algorithm changes. If your brand has enough of a draw for its services, tools, and content, people will search for it organically, regardless of what your position in Google might be.
Taking an Organic Approach
There are a few strategies for increasing your organic search traffic that are likely much more worth your time than trying to correct against Google updates, including:
- Adding tools and graphics to your website
- Pruning, cropping, deleting, and improving your content
- Internationalizing your content
Tools and graphics are notoriously popular draws for organic search traffic. Whether you create your own, hire developers or designers, or just use existing ones with external links, you’re sure to reap some major benefits with this type of content. Aside from the organic search traffic your brand might get, you may also get some quality backlinks over time!
Next, the phrase “content is king” is surely something you’ve heard before—but it doesn’t necessarily mean to just create as much word packed content as possible. In fact, having lots of content that has little value, meaning, or relevance can actually be harmful to your site by increasing your bounce rate and decreasing your time on page ratings, and this has been the result of a lot of fluctuation on SERP’s over the last few years.
Help your organic search traffic by pruning and cropping thin or wordy content, deleting irrelevant or low-quality content, and improving your existing content. While this may be quite time consuming and drop your traffic initially, it will pay off in the longrun. Revisit your content periodically and update it with new, quality information, more customized graphics, graphics, and tools, and more internal and external links.
If you do delete content, be sure to use 301 redirects for those URLs, sending users to an alternative webpage. You should also check for broken links periodically to improve your user experience. There are tools that can help you with this like the Online Broken Link Checker.
You might also consider internationalizing your content by writing blog posts and pages in other languages. Yes, international SEO exists—and you may be surprised how much of a difference it can make for your SEO.
Taking A Local Approach to SEO
Local SEO is key to an Omnichannel, user-friendly approach because it helps customers easily move between an online experience and an in-person one.
Creating a user-friendly experience includes making it as easy to purchase online as in-store and vice versa as well as creating a seamless method for ordering online and picking up in-store for products.
For services, local SEO can be a huge part of your brand identity, so don’t forget to target to your immediate community.
If you have questions or concerns about any of Google’s algorithm updates or are interested in improving your website’s search traffic, get in touch with us today. SeoTuners can offer an affordable solution for your business to increase exposure and SERP rankings with organic SEO strategies like keywords. we’re confident we have a solution for all your marketing needs.