Google Search Updates: How they Impact Websites | Hacker Noon

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At the beginning of May 2020, Google announced a core update to its algorithm, as it usually does once every several months. Whenever this happens, an individual website owner may discover a positive or negative impact on their site traffic. 

While you can’t influence the changes Google makes, you can keep an eye on your site analytics to determine whether any fluctuations are due to changes you made yourself, or stem from Google Search updates. 

If you see your site traffic has gone up, great. If not, some of the information below may be helpful.

Who Was Affected by Google’s Recent Update?

A common misconception is that sites with high domain authority, or a high domain score, will not experience a negative impact from any Google Search updates and will continue getting more traffic. However, following the recent update, the rankings of several major websites went down. These include well-known sites such as spotify.com, linkedin.com, and nypost.com. 

Speaking more broadly, the industries that have seen the most impact from the recent Google update include travel, real estate, health, pets & animals, and people & society.

The least affected industries were home & garden, arts & entertainment, sports, and news.

So what was the difference between websites with negative trends, mostly unaffected sites, and sites that have seen a rise in traffic and rankings? 

Frequently Updated Content

Many websites include blogs in which fresh content appears daily or weekly. At the same time, the old content generally sits untouched, often losing its relevance and becoming obsolete. 

Most of those site owners who take the trouble to update old content regularly saw search traffic rise, not fall, following the recent Google Search update. 

There are no hard and fast rules on updating old content, but overall, you should do what it takes to keep it relevant and competitive.

Here are some useful tips for keeping old content up to date:

  1. Delete irrelevant content and include a 301 redirect to a relevant page on your site.
  2. Spruce up an article by adding infographics, videos, or how-to lists. Find and fix dead links.
  3. Improve an article’s readability by using simple, straightforward language.

Avoid using dates or times whenever they aren’t relevant to the article. Consider merging two articles on your site that offer pretty much the same content.

Thin Content Issues

Another factor that might negatively impact a website’s rankings and traffic is thin content – pages with a low word count. 

Of course, not all pages need thousands of words. For example, “Contact Us,” or “Categories” pages will naturally have a low word count. Other pages will be based primarily on visual content, such as infographics, videos, or step-by-step how-to articles with pictures, and won’t need that many words. 

However, in many cases, articles can and should be made more in-depth and informative. That doesn’t mean providing the same information using more words, but rather, adding more useful content. Look at your top-ranking competitors – do they offer more content on the same subject? If so, you should likely do the same, but focus on value rather than volume. 

Suboptimal SEO

Sites that have multiple SEO errors, such as duplicate meta tags, may see a negative impact from Google’s recent algorithm update. No site has perfect SEO, and not all duplicates necessarily have to be fixed, but a good rule of thumb is avoiding and fixing duplicate title tags and meta descriptions. 

Bottom Line

With Google Search updates, there are no guarantees, and it is hard to predict the effect they might have on your website traffic and rankings. 

However, one thing to keep in mind is that Google has one main goal: being an efficient search engine. Fixing the website issues highlighted in this article should result in a better user experience, which should be your goal. 

SEO means always keeping an eye on your competitors and striving to provide more relevant, valuable, and engaging content. As long as you focus on that, your traffic and rankings are likely to improve over time.

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