You’ve planned and executed your new website, created content, spent hours on SEO, and then…
Bam. A new Google algorithm is released.
Is all your hard work ruined? Will your site be hit with penalties? What about your search ranking?
Unfortunately, if you’re not well prepared, Google algorithm updates can be detrimental to your site. You might see a dramatic decrease in traffic, a reduction in sales, or a raft of penalties.
Want to know how to survive these updates?
You’re in the right place.
I’ll be sharing tips specific to some of the most recent and significant algorithm updates, as well as some more general advice that will help reduce future issues.
Ready to algorithm-proof your site and protect your online business?
Let’s do this.
How to Cope with Three Important Google Algorithm Updates
Want to know how to deal with updates that have already been released or are being rolled out currently?
Here’s the lowdown on three of the most important updates that could be affecting your site.
The first update we want to worry about is Panda.
This update was designed to reduce the amount of low-quality content shown to users during Google searches. This includes sites that copy content from other sources, aren’t useful, or provide very little original content.
At the same time, it should boost the ranking of high-quality sites with lots of helpful, original, in-depth content.
Sounds pretty reasonable, right?
Unfortunately, as with most Google algorithm updates, there can be some unintended consequences. Some good-quality sites have been inadvertently penalized by Google, leading to a drastic drop in their rankings.
Here are some factors which could put your site at risk:
- Low volume of original content.
- Too much content duplicated on other sites.
- Page content and title tags not matching the search terms that the page performs well for.
- A large number of irrelevant ads that don’t match page content.
- Old-fashioned SEO techniques like keyword stuffing.
- High bounce rate.
- Few inbound links to your site.
Panda works on a page level, so certain areas of your site might be hit harder than others.
If you think you’ve been affected, here’s what to do:
- Look at your metrics to find the worst-hit pages.
- Make changes based on the risk factors above, and monitor the results.
- Once you’ve identified changes that need to be made, apply them across your site.
- Create more original, high-quality content, and share widely across the web.
While the Panda update focuses on content, the Penguin update is concerned with backlinks and ‘black hat’ SEO techniques.
The updates penalized sites which use keyword stuffing, over-optimization, and link building schemes.
If you’ve been working hard on your SEO, this update might come as a big blow. Many of the techniques that were once promoted as a good way to boost traffic will now seriously hurt your ranking.
Here are some of the factors which could see your site affected by this update:
- Poor quality backlinks to your site, usually paid for or from a link building scheme.
- Keyword stuffing – using the same keyword too many times.
- Hidden links/hidden text.
- Low outbound link quality.
- Anchor text over-optimization – using the same keyword over and over.
- Virus or spam warnings on your site.
What should you do if your site has been affected?
Here are some suggestions:
- Remove low-quality backlinks.
- Start building high-quality links from authority sites.
- Stop keyword stuffing, reduce keyword density.
- Create high-quality content and share on social media.
Overall, surviving Penguin is all about creating high-quality, organic links back to your site and avoiding black hat SEO methods.
This 2016 update was nicknamed ‘Possum’ by the SEO community, and it affects local search only.
If you a run a business without a set location or physical premises, this might not be too much of a worry. However, if you rely heavily on local search for your traffic, this update will be really important to you.
If you’re worried that your local searching rankings have been hit by this update, here’s what you should do:
- Create a Google My Business page. Adding relevant info like opening times, address, and reviews will boost your ranking.
- Get your business listed in local directories.
- Target location-specific keywords, like ‘plumber Texas’.
- Add location information to your site.
- Create high-quality content that’s relevant to local visitors.
As always when trying to survive Google algorithm updates, you should avoid black hat SEO techniques like keyword stuffing and link building schemes. These will only harm your ranking.
How to Safely Boost Your SEO
The risk of penalties shouldn’t mean you abandon SEO altogether.
Instead, you should focus on white hat techniques – these boost your SEO at the same time as creating a better experience for your users.
Here are some of the techniques that you should know about.
Smart Keyword Use
Keyword stuffing is never a good idea, but that doesn’t mean ignoring keywords altogether.
Use keyword research tools to find the best terms to target – usually those with a high search volume and low competition.
Next, add these keywords sparingly into your content, making sure they appear natural and organic. If possible, include your keyword in the first paragraph of your content and in one header
Tags and Categories
Using the correct tags and categories helps search engines to work out what your site is all about, allowing them to present it during relevant searches.
Add tags and categories that are descriptive, but don’t overdo it.
For example, a cake recipe could be categorized under ‘dessert recipes’ and tagged ‘chocolate, cake, dessert, treat, baking.’
Optimize Images and Videos
Images and videos are harder for search engines to ‘read’ than words.
Make things easier by adding a descriptive caption and alt tag to your images, and uploading descriptions and transcripts alongside your videos. This helps you make the most of your visual content.
Create High-Quality Backlinks
Spam backlinks from poor-quality sites will hurt your ranking during Google algorithm updates, but good backlinks are still worth having.
Get links back to your site from high-quality, authoritative sites by guest posting, offering special offers, or collaborating with other online influencers.
Good backlinks can dramatically increase your ranking and they have the added bonus of helping drive more traffic to your site.
Use Social Media
Sharing your content on social media helps you build up a following, lets you connect with visitors to your site and improves your SEO. It’s a no-brainer.
External links back to your content on social media platforms will boost your ranking and increase your reputation online, particularly when shared by major influencers.
Social media can also be used to build relationships which could lead to SEO-boosting guest post opportunities in the future.
Make Your Site Mobile Friendly
A huge amount of web traffic nowadays is mobile, so you can’t afford to have a site that doesn’t work well on portable devices.
Use responsive site themes and set up accelerated mobile browsing for faster mobile loading times and a better user experience. Be sure to test your website on multiple different devices to check that it performs well.
Sites which work well on mobile will have a search better ranking, while desktop-only sites will be penalized.
How to Create Content That Survives Google Algorithm Updates
With the constant risk of Google algorithm updates hurting your site, you might wonder if it’s even worth creating content.
Luckily, by following a few simple rules you can be fairly confident that your site won’t be negatively affected by any future any Google algorithm updates.
Here’s what you need to do.
Write for the Reader First, Not the Search Engine
Google prioritizes content that’s genuinely useful to readers, and not just designed to drive traffic.
Your content should always be written with the human reader at the top of your mind. Search engine algorithms may change, but humans will remain the same, and no amount of SEO will help a website that doesn’t help real people.
Create Unique, Original Content
Instead of rehashing info that’s already out there on the web, do your own in-depth research to create fresh content. You could create whitepapers, review products that have never been covered before
You could create whitepapers, review products that have never been covered before, add a new angle to an existing topic, or aggregate existing information in a new and original way.
Get creative and think about the kind of problem visitors to your site are looking to solve.
Avoid Black Hat SEO in Your Content
Don’t use black hat SEO techniques like keyword stuffing or over-optimization.
These techniques are outdated, don’t add value for readers, and have been penalized in almost every single one of the recent Google algorithm updates.
If you’ve already used these techniques, try to undo the damage as much as you can by removing low-quality content.
Don’t want all your hard work on your website to go to waste?
Then make sure you’re prepared for Google algorithm updates by creating useful, original content, avoiding black hat SEO techniques, and building high-quality backlinks across the web.