Google has a long and colorful history of algorithm updates. Indeed, Google is always updating its algorithms to ensure that it’s providing the most relevant and up-to-date content to users.
The July 2018 update, or Google Core Update, is a change in how Google ranks websites for search results pages. It targets some of the core web metrics that influence website performance and user experience.
With this update, you may see changes in requirements for on-page optimization. You may also notice changes in requirements for site speed and mobile friendliness.
These are just a few of the changes that may make you want to rethink how you manage SEO. Here, we’ll touch on what you need to know about this new update.
To learn more about Google’s July 2021 Core Web Vitals updates, keep reading.
Preparing for the Latest Changes
Search engine optimization (SEO) experts are used to being busy. Still, the Google July Core Web Vitals updates are a triple whammy.
The latest Core update is one of the most talked-about events among Google’s latest announcements. It’s been long-awaited.
However, there were also two more scheduled rollouts this year. Google has adopted a policy of rolling updates out in bits and pieces to lessen its impact on websites—more on that in a moment.
By the time you read this, we’ll already have entered the third stage of the Google update rollout. Even so, this bombardment of updates is likely to cause some confusion.
You may feel that you’re at the mercy of Google updates—and, to a degree, you’re right. However, you still need to know the facts about Google updates in order to make informed strategic decisions.
Any Google update can lead to potential volatility in organic traffic. We’re going to help you get through it. We’ll also give you a few tips for you to consider as you formulate post-update SEO strategies.
The more that you’ve invested in SEO strategy, the more likely you’re concerned about the latest Google update. For those heavily invested in SEO, you may feel the need to panic—don’t.
It’s not going to be that bad. Take a breath, and let’s dive into what you need to know about the update.
Getting Ready for the Update
Let’s start with an unpleasant reality. It isn’t much you can do to prepare for the latest Google update if you haven’t done it already.
Google is notorious for ambiguity when it comes to its newest algorithm updates. In part, this is why last-minute changes to your site are unlikely to help.
The company doesn’t provide you with enough information to avoid taking a hit to organic traffic if your current SEO strategy is ineffective.
Skillful SEO is a long game. If you want real results, quick fixes won’t cut it. With this in mind, you’ve hopefully already deployed a solid SEO strategy of quality content across your digital assets.
There’s one good thing about the update—if you’ve been paying attention. Google has been publishing information about the July Core Web Vitals update for nearly a year.
They’ve also released a helpful tool called Page Speed Insights. It helps companies evaluate their website’s performance. It even gives you recommendations to help you improve your score and user page experience.
Retailers Get a Break
According to Google representatives, most websites won’t see an effect from this latest triple threat of updates. Meanwhile, the buzz among SEO professionals about the update has increasingly been that the severity of the impact won’t prove as bad as originally anticipated.
More importantly, at least for e-commerce websites, online retailers are most likely in the clear if history is any indicator of future events.
In the past, most e-commerce sites haven’t suffered severe swings in organic traffic performance due to Google updates. Moreover, these sites have historically continued to hum along as if nothing happened.
This paradigm has held true, even throughout this year’s latest round of updates. In all likelihood, this trend will continue.
However, don’t let this bit of good information let you feel like you can let your guard down if you’re an internet retailer. It’s true that it’s highly likely that the update won’t affect your site.
It’s still important to stay informed about changes in the Google algorithm to inform your ongoing SEO strategy. You’ll want to pay attention to what marketing experts are saying about Google updates, even if you’re an e-commerce retailer.
Figuring out Where You Stand
Per Google policy, mystery has remained a part of core updates. Still, that doesn’t mean that you must stay in the dark about how a pending update might affect your website.
Take this summer’s update, for instance. Even better, consider all updates moving forward.
As updates roll out, you should focus on identifying distinct changes to your organic SEO performance. In other words, it’s always important to evaluate how Google core updates affect your website. The following tips may help you with this task.
Check Your Stats
During any update rollout, it’s vital to monitor the performance of your website. Most often, Google announces coming core updates in advance.
You’ll know just when to start looking for changes in organic traffic for this reason. Here, it’s also important to understand that it takes a few weeks for a complete core update rollout.
During this time, you want to evaluate your site traffic. You should begin by looking at your historical traffic data for the previous month.
Thirty days is enough time to give you an accurate picture of any recent changes in organic traffic. If your site has been affected by an update, you’ll find it easier to see when you look back on your traffic data in this timeframe.
Look for Seasonal Changes
In some cases, a Google update might occur during an exceptionally busy or slow season for your industry or business. If so, you must rule out seasonality as a reason for a change in organic traffic before contributing it to the latest Google update.
In this case, it’s quite possible that a Google update will have no effect on your website. Here, it helps to review traffic from various times during the Google update rollout.
For instance, you’ll want to compare stats week-by-week. Next, you want to observe stats month-by-month. Finally, you want to compare traffic year by year.
Focus on Searcher Intent
Imagine that you witness a drop in organic traffic after a Google update. Here, it’s also important to understand that losing traffic is not necessarily harmful.
The purpose of core updates is to provide better results based on user intent. In other words, core updates reduce the number of irrelevant web pages that show up and user search queries.
In some cases, it’s possible that your site was inadvertently showing up in website rankings for an unrelated keyword search. Then, it’s possible that the latest core update fixed the error.
Responding to Poor Post-Update Performance
Otherwise, you’ll need to come up with a plan if your organic search performance drops significantly. Imagine, for instance, that your website takes a hit after a Google update rollout.
Also, you’ve already ruled out seasonality. You’ve also determined that your website focuses on the right keywords. For argument’s sake, let’s say that there’s no obvious reason why your traffic’s dropped.
At this stage, you’ll want to confirm the effects of the algorithm using additional SEO tools. The following tips may help you get a start on this task.
Checking Your Console
If there’s an unexplainable increase or drop in traffic, you’ll want to find out why. A good place to start your investigation is with the Google Search Console.
The Google Search Console will help you identify patterns on your various web pages. It can also help you to identify buckets of keywords you may have lost.
Alternatively, the console can help you to identify why your web traffic has surged. In either case, if you see this kind of change during an update rollout, the Google search console can tell you why.
Rethinking Your SEO Strategy
Not all changes in organic traffic are easy to identify. In part, this condition exists because Google doesn’t reveal what’s getting rewarded with the latest core update.
All website owners see is the final result. They’ll see changes in their own traffic as well as that of others in their industry that are most affected.
Nevertheless, a pending core update can motivate your brand to reevaluate your current SEO strategy. For example, you may have a website with thin content.
If so, it’s time to beef up your content strategy. Alternatively, you’ll want to consult with an expert if your SEO strategy leaves much to be desired.
Now, Here’s the Good News
As each update has emerged, Google has softened its impact on quality sites. In the early days of Google updates, some high-quality sites suffered adverse effects due to algorithm changes. However, they eventually recovered, either with the next update or as the algorithm broke in.
In SEO circles, the softening of the impact on quality sites is called “dialing back” the algorithm. Industry insiders coined this phrase from Google’s various statements about how they’re softening the impact of the algorithm updates. Indeed, Google officials have raised this point many times.
Google programmers achieve this feat by including quality signals in the algorithm update programming. The signals help the algorithm to understand which websites are high quality. In other words, the signals tell the algorithm not to penalize high-quality sites.
Now, Google adds signals of quality with each update rollout. The signals of quality result in fewer false positives regarding poor search results.
A false positive is when a Google algorithm update reads high-quality content as poor content. This event is called a false positive and happens with every algorithm update. Again, however, Google is getting better in this regard over time.
Moving Forward With SEO Success
You’ll want to cover a few SEO basics to make sure that the latest Google algorithm doesn’t receive a false positive for your website. For example, you’ll want to increase your content production cadence. Here, you’ll want to produce a steady mix of:
• Blog posts
• Glossary terms
• Any other meaningful content
This strategy can help you to offset any potential lost traffic.
You’ll want to focus on developing high-quality content, no matter what Google algorithm changes may come.
It’s important to produce content that is authoritative, deep and relative. Also, it’s helpful to produce long-form content that ranges from 1,000 words to 2,000 words or more.
You’ll also want to work on your page load speed. Here, you can use the previously mentioned Google Page Speed Insights tool. You should also make use of other tools to help you improve website performance.
You also want to reduce your website bounce rate. In addition, you want to provide an excellent customer page experience.
You’ll also want to consider using schema markup. Google has encouraged schema markup since 2011. Now, website owners are starting to report positive results from using the schema.
Get Ready for the Latest Google Algorithm Update!
What does the latest Google algorithm update mean for your website? The answer is that no matter your current SEO strategy, you must take proactive steps as soon as possible if you want to avoid the penalties Google has in store for sites that are not mobile-friendly or have low-quality content.
We know how frustrating it is when, despite your hard work, your web pages don’t show up in search engine results. Well, worry no more. Our experts are here to make sure that your website is optimized for success.
Contact Iconic Web today at (717) 687-1841 or connect with us online for a free technical SEO audit.