We all know Google is tight-lipped when a major update in the algorithm is performed.
When the online forums light up with speculation, the response from Google is generally booming silence. If there is a core update, Google will (sometimes) officially name the update, i.e. Hummingbird or Panda.
With recent rumblings of an update, it appears that Google is giving us a glimpse into exactly what it wants.
Yesterday, Google dropped an outstanding blog about the famous periodic broad core updates. Following the Google mandated guidelines is something that most of us do as SEO professionals, and the article reiterates the basic guidelines of quality content, which all of us that create content or manage a website should know extremely well. That being said, the article outlines a myriad of questions that content, SEO, and webmaster professionals should ask themselves about their page content.
Highlights from Google’s “What webmasters should know about Google’s “core updates”:
- “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. We suggest focusing on ensuring you’re offering the best content you can. That’s what our algorithms seek to reward.”
- “Consider having others you trust but who are unaffiliated with your site provide an honest assessment.”
- “If you understand how raters learn to assess good content, that might help you improve your own content. In turn, you might perhaps do better in Search.”
- “However, we’re constantly making updates to our search algorithms, including smaller core updates. We don’t announce all of these because they’re generally not widely noticeable. Still, when released, they can cause content to recover if improvements warrant.”
- “Do keep in mind that improvements made by site owners aren’t a guarantee of recovery, nor do pages have any static or guaranteed position in our search results. If there’s more deserving content, that will continue to rank well with our systems.”
- “It’s also important to understand that search engines like Google do not understand content the way human beings do. Instead, we look for signals we can gather about content and understand how those correlate with how humans assess relevance. How pages link to each other is one well-known signal that we use. But we use many more, which we don’t disclose to help protect the integrity of our results.”
Is this Google’s attempt to tell us that a broad core update is hitting the web soon? A year ago, we had the Medic update that had a huge impact on the health and wellness segment of the web.
Ask yourself how your content stacks up against your competitors. Are you the most authoritative, interesting or thorough? If users aren’t choosing you, Google won’t either.
Google reminds us that SEO does not occur in a vacuum. If it does not measure up to the competition, results will suffer. I feel as SEO professionals, we focus on our own content and neglect to notice what the competition is doing.
Sometimes the best policy is to wait and do nothing; your content might be just fine and will recover. Chances are, if you are following the guidelines that Google recommends, your rank will not suffer catastrophically.
Follow your KPI guidelines and, after an algorithm update, check them regularly just in case you need to adjust your strategy. Keep in mind that content can always be improved and constantly evolving content is what Google loves.
If an update is coming, it is in the early stages, but there have been signs. Google will generally test the update resulting in a shift in rankings, followed by the actual update.
Last month there was a noticeable spike in volatility around the 18th unofficially named Maverick by the SEO community. This blog could be another way that Google is trying to let us know a major update and we need to pay attention to how we are presenting our content. My prediction is an algorithm change within the next few days, but with Google, you can never be too sure.