About two weeks ago Google rolled out it’s January Core Update globally. According to Google, this update will take approximately two weeks to be fully integrated. So what is this update, how can it affect your SEO performance and how can you prepare?
Unlike many of Google’s larger updates such as the Panda or Penguin updates, this update isn’t as big and (as many businesses will be aware) seems to mainly be targeting SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages). Core updates, such as those in June and September of last year occur every few months and Google usually classifies it as a chance to refresh their search results. But in some cases it also provides opportunities for businesses to distinguish any changes in the Google algorithm, for example, a greater focus on backlinks.
So what has this update done? Granted that many individuals have seen changes to their website traffic over the last couple weeks, with many viewing a drastic drop in the immediate days following the rollout, while others have seen substantial growth in website traffic. With any core update there are unfortunately going to be both winners and losers and during this first couple of weeks it can be difficult to determine how to get on to the winning side. But some changes with the rollout have started to become apparent, in particular relation to both featured snippets and search ad display. These are explained in more detail below:
1. Featured Snippets
In the past featured snippets were introduced to provide users with the direct information they were after, without having to trawl through the SERPs. This was valuable for mobile and desktop users alike as it allowed for easy viewing of information, as well as direct answers to questions typed into google.
Featured Snippets were shown above the organic search results and were then re-presented in the organic search results for audiences that wanted to dig a bit deeper. However, as Google’s Public Searchliaison Danny Sulivan has stated, this re-presenting of the website is no longer occurring as Google looks to declutter their SERP. What if I had a featured snippet but lost it with the update? According to Danny Sullivan, this shouldn’t affect your position on the organic search results as featured snippets are usually pulled from sites that are ranking high to begin with. However, this new update does potentially present some opportunity for businesses to not only gain a featured snippet position (take advantage of the rankings change) but also provide opportunities for new companies to be shown within the top half of organic search results.
2. Google Search Ads Display
As many people know Google Search Ads appear above organic search results in the SERPs. While the placement or structure of these Ads has not changed, with the new update there has been a minor change in the way they are displayed.
Search ads were previously distinguished from search results not only through their general layout, but also with small green text reading “AD” next to the URL (in the same green colour). However, as Search Engine Journal has highlighted, the layout of the word “AD” in relation to the search ad itself is now far more prominent being presented in black capital letters (as shown below). Many have argued that this new setup presents paid ads too prominently to users, rather than having them blend in with organic results. Currently, as reported by Search Engine Journal’s follow-up on the issue, Google is testing out new alternative displays to users in the hopes of finding a solution that will appease businesses.
Preparing for a Google Core Update
While it would be easy to have a quick fix solution that would cover all your bases for a Google Core Update, unfortunately this is impossible. As mentioned previously, Google Core Updates can provide a number of different changes which can’t be fully realised until weeks after the update is rolled out. In many cases Google has even openly stated that changes in traffic with a core update doesn’t mean that your pages are doing something wrong or your webpage is not following SEO best practices. Therefore the best advice possible for Google Core Updates is to follow the message that Google laid out back in 2011:
“focus on developing high-quality content rather than trying to optimize for any particular Google algorithm.”
Whilst not completely reassuring, this means that while it’s important to keep an eye on your businesses ranking and analytics, change in your SEO performance is only natural and will readjust over time with continued work and focus on implementing SEO best practices.
If you have any further questions on this subject or the new update is playing havoc with your website, feel free to contact the team at Redline Digital Today.
If you have any further questions on this subject or the new update is still playing havoc with your website, feel free to contact one of our team at Redline Digital Today.