10 Tips on How to Overcome a Google Algorithm Update

Marketers are familiar with the scenario following a potential Google broad core algorithm update; with traffic dropping overnight, you search the internet for clues as to what the Google update might have involved, what changes have been made, and sometimes you question whether there has even been an update at all? 

Google is notoriously vague about these updates, and indeed, the search algorithm is reported to be updated thousands of times every year, often with no noticeable effect. However, it pays to be prepared for the pivotal changes that are released every now and again.

We have shared 10 tips which will help support you to overcome an algorithm update…  

1 Don’t panic

Although the knee-jerk reaction to an algorithm update may be to panic, especially if your site has been affected, it’s important not to. Try to work out what the update involved, check reports, and keep monitoring page performance. It’s always best to wait till the update has fully rolled out, as updates can take several days to complete, and a lot can happen during that time. For example, you could drop down a few positions in the SERPs, only to find a few days/weeks later this has levelled out to  where it was before. Google updates are largely out of our control, but stay calm and re-evaluate the situation once the dust settles. We would recommend reviewing this on a weekly and then monthly basis. These algorithm updates can take for the full impact to become completely visible on the website’s organic performance.

2 Plan ahead

Google holds their cards close to their chest when it comes to algorithm updates, but sometimes there are clues ahead of larger forthcoming changes. Pay attention to Google’s advice and plan ahead. For example, when they announce they will be releasing a mobile-related update, take steps to optimise your site for mobile. This way you are less likely to suffer the consequences. 

3 Update and create content

By regularly updating and optimising content, as well as removing thin or poor-quality content, you’ll optimise your site to its best potential in the long run. In addition, creating new content is a sure-fire way to make your site stronger. Expertise, authority and trustworthiness (or EAT) are key here, so ensure any new content is original, engaging, answers users’ search queries, is free from factual errors or typos and isn’t duplicated anywhere else online. 

4 Fix broken links and images

Broken links are not an SEO’s friend – and forgetting to tidy them up can have dramatic results in the wake of an update. You can use specific tools to check for broken links or image files – and take care that any discovered are updated promptly. This is work that should be monitored every quarter. We include this as part of our on-going roadmaps when working with clients. 

5 Assess site security

It’s important to check how secure your site is because this is closely linked to how Google will rank it. If your site uses HTTP protocol, this can have serious effects on its overall security as HTTP is lacking the extra security layer that HTTPS encryption provides – a big red flag for Google. Most sites are now on HTTPS, but it’s always worth a check to make sure. 

6 Check out the competition

If there are rumours of a recent algorithm update and your site’s performance has taken a dip, it doesn’t hurt to look at what your competitors are doing. Has their content been similarly affected, or are they still going strong? If so, what learnings can you take from them? 

7 Use the SEO community

If you’re worried about future algorithm updates and the effects they could have on your site, why not look to the extensive SEO community available online? There are hundreds of knowledgeable experts around the world who can answer any queries you may have, or may have experienced something similar before and can offer advice. We are always here to help too, please get in touch.

8 Focus on your audience

Although it may be tempting to optimise solely for search engines, it’s worth your time and money to focus on UX (user experience) as well. The strongest brands to survive an algorithm update usually have a solid user base and optimise their sites with a focus on user experience. If you’re not doing this already, it’s time to start. 

9 Look at the bigger picture

With over 150 ranking factors to consider, it’s understandable that people often get lost in the smaller details. Occasionally Google releases algorithm updates to tackle specific issues; but often there is a broad effect. If you endeavour to make your overall site structure as strong as it can be for as many ranking factors as possible, this will stand you in good stead in the face of a broad core update.

10 Play the long game

As we all know, SEO is not a short-term solution – so think about the long run and use an SEO strategy with longevity. Algorithm updates might temporarily affect your site, but if you have a durable solution in place, you’re likely to bounce back much faster. Google will not penalise a well built, informative and trustworthy site.

There is certainly a lot to consider if you want to survive a Google algorithm update, but these ten top tips should help give you more ammunition to prepare for the next big change. Please get in touch if you want to hear about our SEO services for your brand or business.