It’s no secret that Google alters its search algorithm throughout the year. The majority of these changes are minor, although occasionally it will include a major update, such as Google Panda and Google Penguin.
While Google might provide us with some information for the larger updates, the tech giant generally likes to keep it hush-hush. Probably because, as Google’s John Mueller recently explained on Twitter, the company wants people to act like their algorithms aren’t watching them and just focus on creating the best site and content for their audience.
However, it is pretty impossible to ignore the updates, especially when it has a major impact on search results.
And it seems that’s exactly what has happened a couple of weekends ago. According to Barry Schwartz, who first reported the update, Google altered its algorithm over the weekend of August 19.
People began discussing Google fluctuations in search results, with threads on WebmasterWorld and Black Hat World discussing “personal ups and downs in the Google search results and also overall lack of quality in the search results over the weekend”.
While the discussions have been limited compared to larger updates, search tools seemed to correlate to the discussions.
A new quality algorithm update shouldn’t be that much of a surprise, as GSQi notes that Google appears to be refreshing its quality algorithms almost monthly.
But this particular update, which Google hasn’t openly discussed, seems to have made a significant impact on ranking and traffic.
Giving users what they want: great content
Google is well aware of what users want – they’re after useful and engaging content and they want to access this content without being bombarded with broken UIs and aggressive, disruptive and deceptive advertising.
Writing for GSQi, Glenn Gabe notes that all of the sites he saw that had been most affected by the update got all of this wrong. They were full of ads, had broken UIs and, most importantly, the quality algorithm had re-evaluated the site and found that the content wasn’t as high quality as previously thought.
But this isn’t the first time Google have highlighted the importance of quality content. In fact, as Gabe points out, John Mueller has explained this several times before.
Upping content quality pays off
But it isn’t all bad news, as sites can recover from this update. And many sites who had worked on their content strategy after being hit by previous quality algorithms saw a surge in traffic and ranking following the August 19 update.
In particular, Gabe cites a company that had been hit particularly hard with the previous Panda, Penguin and quality updates. Since then, they’ve removed their low-quality content and have worked on creating a strong development plan that focuses on “understanding prospective customer pain points.”
And it’s paid off. By writing quality content that address the needs of their audience, answers their questions, covers questions thoroughly and included video content, they’ve seen a 46% increase in traffic since the May 17 update. What’s more, the enhanced content is driving more sales.
If this isn’t proof that a killer content strategy pays off, I don’t know what is.
The big takeaway from the update is that companies need to make significant changes to the quality of the content on their site and not just opt for short-term fixes – you can’t just stick a plaster over and hope everything will be okay.
If the recent monthly updates are anything to go on, Google is only going to crack down on content even harder, so think for the long-term and refresh your content strategy. If you’ve been impacted by the recent update, start working on your content strategy now. If you need a hand, why not give M2 Bespoke a call today?