Google's artificial intelligence-powered algorithm is constantly changing. On average there are three core updates per year, the most recent took place on the 25th of May 2022.
Generally, these updates are changes that affect websites and their ranking positions. While these broad core algorithm updates don't have an official name, they often receive one after launch, such as "Penguin update," or "Panda update." This most recent update is yet to be given a name, but we're sure the SEO community will come up with one in the coming weeks.
In this post, I will talk about what happened with Google's latest core update and how you can recover if your website experienced a drop in traffic.
What is Google's May Core Update?
The May Broad Core Update was a major change to the Google algorithm. It was first released on 25 May 2022 and completed on 9 June 2022. The update has had a huge impact on how search results are displayed, causing some pages to drop dramatically in ranking. Some websites may have noticed a significant fall in traffic during this period also.
Step 1: Review your analytics.
One of the first things to do after a Google Core update will be to review your analytics. Google Analytics (GA) is a free tool that you can use to track your website's traffic, trends and interactions. It's important to check Google Analytics as here you will be able to view how your website has been affected by the update. While I mention it, if you're currently using Universal Analytics, we'd recommend switching over to GA4 as soon as possible. Take a look at this blog post to find out why.
Some of the key metrics to look out for will be overall website traffic and organic sessions. If both have seen a significant decrease since the update it may be worth digging deeper into your data.
A good place to start when viewing Google Analytics data would be Organic Landing Pages and Organic Traffic by Device. This should be able to tell you whether the drops you're seeing are site-wide or only specific to a few select pages.
Viewing traffic by the device can also shed some light on whether your website is performing better on mobile or desktop devices.
Typically, when your website is affected by an update, you'll see a dramatic traffic decrease, page by page. If you do see a site-wide drop, it could mean that your entire website has been penalised by the recent search algorithm update and therefore will affect your overall rank within the search landscape.
Step 2: Review your content.
If you have been unfortunate enough to see a dramatic drop in traffic as a result of the core update, Google's advice for recovering is always the same: improve your content.
Unfortunately with these updates and SEO in general there is never a singular silver bullet to fix all your problems and get to the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Google has even said there is no simple fix.
"We know those with sites that experience drops will be looking for a fix, and we want to ensure they don't try to fix the wrong things. Moreover, there might not be anything to fix at all." Google added "As explained, pages that drop after a core update don't have anything wrong to fix. This said we understand those who do less well after a core update change may still feel they need to do something."
If you have experienced a drop in traffic and feel the need to change something on your website, the best thing to do is look at the advice given by Google during previous updates.
After the Panda update in 2011 Google provided an extensive list of points which help its algorithm distinguish a high-quality site. Google advises focusing on developing high-quality content over trying to optimise for any particular Google algorithm.
Step 3: Consider E-A-T.
E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. It's an acronym used by Google's human quality raters to assess the quality of search results. The term originally comes from Google's Search Quality Rater Guidelines - a 168-page document used by Google's human quality raters to assess the quality of search results.
In case you didn't know, Google really does have a team of 10-100k people who rate the quality of search results. They help Google determine how well search results solve user needs.
Understanding how the Google raters identify good content might also help you improve your own content and therefore perform better in the SERPs.
Some quick tips for improving E-A-T include:
- Improve your online reputation by increasing positive reviews on third-party websites.
- Respect your users by not bombarding them with ads or deceiving them.
- Let your readers know who you are, who your authors are and why they should trust you.
- Cite credible sources and receive links from credible sources.
- Be sure that any factual content contains a citation to peer-reviewed evidence.
Step 4: Prepare for future updates.
Although the most recent Google algorithm update is still fresh, it's not too early to start preparing yourself for future updates. While it's not directly related to recovering from Google algorithm updates, we consider this an essential part of any business and the collaboration between SEO, marketing and wider teams.
Although organic search is truly the best source of consistent, scalable traffic for your business - it shouldn't be the only source of traffic and revenue for your business.
Grow an audience and build a following.
When your business relies on people landing on your website and only viewing the content that you rank for when they leave and don't return it is a lot more fragile than if you set up your website and business to encourage repeat visitors.
By directing resources into other channels such as social media, next time there's an algorithm update your business won't be hit as hard as you'll still have the traffic coming in from other channels.
Build a business that doesn't rely on search to survive.
If your business truly provides value to its audience and helps them achieve something they're willing to spend money on time and time again. You will find that your business prospers regardless of positions on a SERP.
If you were negatively impacted by the most recent Google Core Update, the truth is there isn't a quick fix. However, there are plenty of steps you can take to begin your recovery. We suggest reviewing your site analytics, considering whether your content fulfils search intentions and incorporating E-A-T into all future content efforts.
If you need help with SEO or would like some guidance on how to recover from this update check out our search engine optimisation services here.