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Google Algorithm Update – August 20184 min read

This week, Google confirmed the roll-out of an update to its broad core ranking algorithm, and although Google adjusts its algorithm on a daily basis, this update is notable for its scale and impact.

Google states there is no focus on this update, and “no fix” if you have been negatively impacted by it, as it’s designed to benefit sites which have thus far been under-rewarded. If you have seen an impact on your organic performance, we recommend waiting until we get more clarity about the types of sites, industries and pages that have been hit and then make informed decisions based on this.

What is the latest update?

It started as it always does. Industry murmuring about significant changes to once stable rankings across different verticals. Murmurs turn to chatter, chatter turns to calls for Google to explain themselves, and these calls *sometimes* get answers. And this time, we did get answers, sort of.

Google confirmed that they had released an update to the broad core algorithm.

“Each day, Google usually releases one or more changes designed to improve our results. Some are focused around specific improvements. Some are broad changes. Last week, we released a broad core algorithm update. We do these routinely several times per year”

In short, a broad core update means an adjustment to the fundamental rules by which Google ranks websites. It is less focussed than previous iterations such as mobile or speed updates, and whilst typically in the past these core updates have centered around quality, links or spam issues, there is no indication about the nature of this one.

Google did however give a view on what sites that are impacted should do.

“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.”

In summary, do nothing is the advice from Google. If you have been following their guidelines and producing strong, relevant and worthwhile content whilst making sure your site is fast, accessible and well structured, then you should have nothing to worry about. Although wonderfully trite – if you have seen a significant loss in organic performance – it’s unlikely to be a satisfactory response.

What to do if you suspect you have been impacted by the update?

Actually, Google is right for a few reasons; or at least to start with.

First, as the dust settles, the industry should become somewhat clearer about what and the types of sites, industries, pages, and so on have been hit by the update. From this, we can make some assumptions about things Google sought to achieve. If your site falls short of Google’s guidelines in this area, then you’ll need to remedy this to return to previous performance levels (ensure to get SEO expertise on this analysis). If it doesn’t appear to fall short, there is something else to consider.

Whenever updates like these come out, invariably their efforts have unintended consequences which need to be rectified. Google does this in the form of a ‘refresh’ which looks to iron out these mistakes. If you make drastic changes to your content immediately, you could end up damaging performance in the long term.

Finally, Google specifies in the announcement that the update is not designed to punish sites, but rather benefit those which have previously been under-rewarded. It might be the case that other sites in your industry have been more deserving of higher positions, and are only now achieving them. If this is the case, you’ll need to understand what it is they are doing that makes them more worthy – and then do better.

In all cases like this, it is important to get expert SEO analysis bespoke to your site to ensure informed decisions are made. If you have been impacted or would like to know more about SEO in general, please contact us and we’d be happy to help.