At the beginning of August, many companies and marketing professionals started to notice a change in Google’s organic website traffic. The changes were formally announced but the details were not given, so we are left to examine the changes ourselves and try to follow the trail of breadcrumbs. However, there are some observations we can safely make about exactly what Google’s latest search update entailed:
- Medical websites appear to have been impacted the most. This includes nutrition and diet websites. E-commerce, B2B, and finance companies were also impacted.
- In many instances, the companies losing their high rankings were national and international companies in lieu of smaller local businesses.
While Google didn’t discuss the details of these changes, they did offer some general advice. Per Danny Sullivan, an analyst at Google who serves as their public Search Liaison, said the best way to improve your ranking with the new changes was just to “have great content” and linked to Google’s massive rankings guidelines document (which can be found here).
Danny’s advice might be as frustrating as it is vague, but it’s appropriate. The only way to truly make sure you’re ready to handle any sweeping changes Google makes to their algorithms this month and in the future is by providing great content for your users. After all, Google’s end goal is matching its users with the exact content that they need.
Here are four ways you can do just that:
1. Choose Diverse Topics
Finding topics that allow you to focus on several keywords at once let you diversify your SEO strategy. If your business loses a strong ranking for one keyword overnight, hopefully, you’ll maintain traffic coming through your other keywords. It’s certainly important to dive down deep and choose very specific keywords, but the more eggs you put in your basket the more prepared you’ll be to weather any changes.
2. Focus on Engagement
Having an active blog pays major dividends when it comes to organic search rankings. Metrics such as the number of return visits, comments, and social shares all give a significant boost to search ranks. If your visitors are returning over and over again of their own volition, a short-term tumble down the page ranks won’t completely eliminate your traffic. That, in turn, helps bump your website back up again.
3. Quality Trumps Everything
Take Google’s “create great content” advice very seriously. The best way to make sure that your SEO strategy stands the test of time is by making sure it’s actually valuable. Google already looks at things like average length of visit, how often users complete your calls to action, and many other metrics that attempt to measure the quality of your pages. Any future changes will surely take this a step further. If you’re cutting corners to churn out tons of low-quality content, you’ll certainly wake up one morning to find out that Google’s latest search update has halted incoming organic search traffic.
4. Keep it Simple
Media and plug-ins might make your website look a little bit better but they also slow it down. Even more importantly, they may stop performing well as browsers continue to evolve and update. If you have lots of old pages that aren’t fully functional, it will eventually tank your rating. The simpler your content is, the more evergreen it will be. If you do use plenty of plug-ins and media, perform a routine check of all your pages to make sure everything’s in working order.