If you commute to work every day, your morning drive might be pretty uneventful. You might hit a few red lights, run over a pothole, or get caught in a small traffic jam. But you still manage to get to the office on time and in one piece.
Occasionally, though, things really go awry. Maybe your usual route is under construction and you have to take a long detour. You get a flat tire. Your car is rear-ended. And as a result, you’re late to work, you have to call AAA, or you have to file an insurance claim and police report.
Still, it’s not the end of the world. When those life crises occur, cooler heads prevail. You don’t have to jump for joy, but having a worst-case-scenario plan in place will make all the difference.
The same goes for those pesky Google updates. Your campaign might be moving along without incident and the next thing you know – BAM! – you see your clients have taken a big hit during the latest Google algorithm update. And while being a great “defensive driver” can prevent some damage, you’ll still need to know how to react immediately following an update to get back on the road to SEO success.
With that in mind, let’s buckle up for our SEO reseller crash course. We’ll cover everything you need to know about the latest Google algorithm updates and how to protect your clients (as well as your own agency). With an emergency plan in place, your campaign won’t be a total loss.
Table of Contents
- Why Google algorithm updates happen
- What happens during an algorithm update
- Why some sites are hit harder during algo updates
- Why you shouldn't panic over the most recent Google update
- Google search algorithm update frequency
- Different types of Google algorithm updates
- The history of Google algorithm updates
- How to protect your clients from a Google algorithm update
- How to help your clients recover from a Google search algo update
Why Do Google Algorithm Updates Happen?
Google uses complex and mysterious algorithmic calculations to determine how the search engine ranks websites when web queries are performed. This algorithm doesn’t remain static; instead, it’s constantly changing to account for new data.
Although change can be hard for many of us, it’s often a good thing. Google’s algorithm updates are intended to improve the quality of search results for web users, ensuring that the websites that appear most prominently in SERPs provide the most relevant and valuable content for searchers.
Early on, Google’s algorithm updates were intended to correct big blind spots that allowed bad actors to manipulate flaws in the ranking system. But as time has passed, machine learning has also allowed the purpose of Google’s algorithm updates to shift. Although Google still makes every effort to weed out spammy and manipulative tactics with updates to its ranking algorithm, these updates can also separate truly spectacular sites from merely average ones.
While some of Google’s algorithm updates have more specific focuses (like the Page Experience update), others are more general in nature. But whether we’re dealing with an ultra-precise improvement or a broad core update, Google’s goals are to fix potential oversights, improve its method for evaluating websites and content, and provide the best possible results for search queries.
What Typically Happens During a Google Algorithm Update?
Google’s goals sound good… but what actually happens during or right after a Google search algorithm update can often cause marketers to gripe and groan.
When a Google algo update is released, that scheduled rollout is pushed into live mode. These rollouts usually take 1 to 2 weeks to complete (though some can take much longer). During that time, as the algorithm undergoes these adjustments, many websites will experience shifts in their organic search rankings and traffic. That’s because the algorithm is being given new parameters and calculations that impact how ranking signals are weighted and factored into the overall equation.
In some cases, a client’s website could actually see some gains during the algorithm’s rollout. If you’ve made a concerted recovery effort following a previous algorithm update crisis or Google intends to correct a glaring omission, your efforts might finally pay off. But many websites experience the opposite during a Google algo update, with reports of lost rankings and a sudden drop in traffic.
The latest Helpful Content Update showed this type of widespread rankings volatility. Many industry news sites cited significant chatter from others in our industry toward the end of September 2023, as many speculated a final surge took place during the rollout. As Search Engine Round Table reported:
Image source: Search Engine Round Table
While volatility levels vary from update to update, a change in rankings is to be expected. In fact, it’s really the whole point.
Google makes nearly constant adjustments to how it orders websites in search results. In order to create an even better algorithm, Google has to correct past oversights – and that involves new calculations and shuffled rankings. For a website to be appropriately rewarded for its newly perceived value, another website’s ranking will subsequently shift. The hope, of course, is that your clients’ hard-won rankings aren’t going to shift in a negative way when these updates occur. But there really are no guarantees.
Ranking and traffic volatility will usually slow down toward the end of the rollout and in the days and weeks following. Some sudden shifts may self-correct during the rollout, while others will endure. You’ll have to keep an eye on your analytics data during and after each algorithm rollout to assess how it’s specifically impacted your clients.
Why Are Some Sites Hit Harder By Google Algo Updates Than Others?
Some websites (or categories of websites) are more significantly affected by Google search algorithm updates than others. Sometimes, we’ll have some indication of which websites might be targeted during a given update. Much of the time, though, those insights come after the fact, once SEO experts are able to analyze widespread data and identify any potential patterns.
Google doesn’t always give its updates detailed names, but some Google algo updates will receive a moniker of sorts in the aftermath. The August 2018 broad core update, for example, is sometimes known as the “Medic update” because it seemingly targeted medical websites – especially those that published Your Money, Your Life (YMYL) content or that had low E-A-T (now known as E-E-A-T). But as you can see from the chart below, those sites weren’t the only ones that were heavily impacted.
Image source: Search Engine Round Table
Here’s another example: The recent (and officially named) Product Review updates were meant to reward websites with robust product reviews. This meant that websites with thin, non-valuable product reviews were hit much harder during that rollout. Although we had some idea of what Google would likely target during this update, rankings volatility lasted nearly 3 weeks – a longer-than-average rollout that left many marketers’ heads spinning.
During a post-mortem algorithm update analysis, it may become clear that certain website categories took a more substantial hit. Those may range from e-commerce shopping and health websites to sites that cover entertainment, culture, and technology. Theoretically, no website category is totally safe. However, certain types of sites are subject to greater scrutiny than others.
Owners of spammy or low-quality sites should theoretically always be on edge in the event of a Google algorithm update. The same goes for websites that fall under the YMYL purview; while these sites aren’t inherently spammy, they’re generally held to a higher standard than other websites because of the potential for harm that they might pose to users’ health, finances, and other major life developments.
But it’s not just spam or potentially harmful content that makes a website vulnerable anymore. These days, we need to be even more concerned about providing high-caliber content, especially in the wake of the Helpful Content updates and anything related to E-E-A-T. Websites that contain a significant amount of content written for search engines, rather than human readers, have become targets of recent Google algorithm updates. And while E-E-A-T isn’t technically a ranking signal and doesn’t have a dedicated algorithm update, Google’s emphasis on unique experience, true expertise, authority, and trustworthiness has translated to ranking changes for websites that have fared just fine in search up until now.
Ultimately, it’s hard to predict whether a site could be targeted in an upcoming update. Keeping a close watch on the most recent Google algorithm updates and trends, as well as the issues other websites within your clients’ verticals might face, can at least lower the potential for a surprise hit.
Should I Be Panicking Over the Latest Google Algorithm Update?
While all your problem-solving instincts might kick into high gear after an update, we’d advise you to take a breath before you put the pedal to the metal and take off at 100 miles-per-hour.
First of all, there may not actually be any real cause for concern. Your clients might not see a whole lot of movement following a given update, particularly if they have a responsive website filled with valuable content. If you’ve done your due diligence and their website isn’t in a heavily targeted category, they might not experience a high level of volatility.
But even if your clients’ rankings and traffic do see some movement, a lot of those initial spikes and drops will sort themselves out over time. Remember: Algorithm updates can take a few weeks to finish rolling out. A “wait and see” approach can help you avoid making issues worse while the rollout is still taking place.
Rather than fixating on initial volatility, pay attention to your analytics from a few weeks before and after a major update to assess any lasting changes. The more you know, the better your strategic decisions will be moving forward.
Generally speaking, a single Google algorithm update won’t do irreparable damage to your client’s site or SEO strategy. Google cares most about providing value to searchers; if you’re also in pursuit of that goal, you’re on the right path. Reassuring your clients that there’s no cause for alarm – and letting them know you have a plan in place if they do experience any SEO setbacks – should be your top priority.
How Frequently Do Google Search Algorithm Updates Roll Out?
It seems like every time we recover from a Google update, there’s another one on the horizon. While there’s no timed cadence for algorithm update releases, we tend to hear about notable Google algo updates every few months or so.
However, Google actually updates its search algorithm on a daily basis (and sometimes multiple times a day!). These daily updates aren’t usually impactful enough to make front page news on industry websites – and Google hardly ever officially confirms them – but they can sometimes account for smaller fluctuations. You’ll need to use a ranking volatility tool like Semrush Sensor to assess whether even small algorithm changes are impacting SERPs in a widespread way.
Understanding the Types of Algorithm Updates
Learning more about the different types of Google algorithm updates can help you predict or identify when one might be taking place.
We can break down Google search updates into a few different types.
Minor updates: Daily updates or small tweaks to Google’s ranking algorithm
Major updates: Notable algorithm updates with a specific focus (i.e., updates targeting spam, product reviews, page experience, local, etc.)
Broad Core updates: Significant adjustments to the main ranking algorithm that targets the way Google’s systems assess content (rather than targeting certain types of websites or content)
Additionally, Google algo updates are categorized as either confirmed or unconfirmed. Officially confirmed updates are typically either major or broad core updates, as Google usually announces when a more widespread change has taken place. Minor updates often (though not always) go unconfirmed; their impact may be so contained or ambiguous that Google never formally highlights their existence. We’d recommend that you follow industry news sites like Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, and Search Engine Round Table (as well as Semify’s own social media pages) to make sure you stay informed of any changes to the Google algorithm.
What Are Some Memorable Highlights in Google Algorithm Update History?
To have a clear idea of where Google might be headed with its future algorithm updates, it’s important to know where we’ve already been. You can read our detailed history of Google algorithm updates to learn more about some of the most pertinent changes made over the last decade. We’ve also included the highlights in our crash course Google algorithm update history timeline below.
A Not-So-Brief History of Google Algorithm Updates
- Boston (2003): The first-ever confirmed Google update was announced at Northeastern University’s SES engineering conference and named for its Beantown location.
- Florida (2003): Several updates rolled out throughout 2003 as Google’s monthly algorithm changes gave way to daily ones. Florida, however, was the first big Google search update that arguably changed the entire SEO landscape forever. This update stormed its way through the SEO world; its focus on keyword stuffing proved that manipulative ranking tactics would no longer win out in SERPs.
- Brandy (2004): Immediately following the Austin update (which focused on other black hat SEO tactics), Brandy was designed to account for Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) to improve the Google algorithm’s understanding of context. As a result, Brandy made index corrections to sites that were unfairly penalized (and ones that were mistakenly missed) during the Austin update.
- Jagger (2005): As part of its 3-stage rollout, the Jagger update was geared toward appropriately reassigning lower rankings to sites that engaged in cloaking, low-quality and spammy links, duplicate content, and other manipulative tactics. This update was named after the Rolling Stones frontman, who appeared in Las Vegas the week of the Pubcon conference, and USA Today’s moniker for Google’s Matt Cutts (the “Mick Jagger of search”).
- Google Local/Maps Merger (2005): After launching the Local Business Center (LBC) in early 2005, Google announced the arrival of Google Local. This change combined Google Maps with Google Local in the LBC, providing a plethora of information for nearby searchers and setting the importance of local SEO into motion.
- Big Daddy (2005): This update involved an infrastructural software update with an unusually long 3-month rollout and was focused on technical issues, like URL redirects and canonicalization. However, many members of the SEO community were convinced this update was actually focused on removing link spam; some sites that featured spammy or paid links simply weren’t transitioned over to Google’s new data centers.
- Universal Search (2007): Though not a conventional algorithm update, this change combined typical search results with other media like images, video, news, local, and even book results. Blended results pages became standard and this change subsequently popularized “vertical search,” making for more focused and relevant query results.
- Vince (2009): A reportedly “minor change,” this update caused more big brand websites to show up on page 1 for competitive keywords, thus unseating the smaller websites that previously held those coveted spots in SERPs. Google confirmed this broad keyword-centric adjustment factored in metrics like trust, quality, and PageRank, and other reputation metrics as part of its site rankings.
- Google Places (2010): Although the Local Business Center made its debut 5 years earlier, the LBC was rebranded and relaunched as Google Places in 2010, laying the groundwork for later iterations like Google My Business and Google Business Profile.
- May Day (2010): Long-tail keyword rankings underwent some major shifts during April and May of 2010. As Google attempted to improve results relevance for more specific search queries, websites with ample amounts of thin content found themselves among the hardest-hit domains.
- Caffeine (2010): This infrastructure rollout gave a much-needed jolt of energy to Google’s search capabilities, improving search speed, crawling, and indexing. While it didn’t change how the algorithm calculated website rankings, it did prioritize fresher, more relevant content in SERPs.
- Brand Update (2010): Previously, brands were limited in how many times they could appear in a single SERP. With this change, Google allowed domains to appear multiple times on the same search results page. At first, this change seemed to enable larger brands to dominate the SERPs; in a test, Apple appeared multiple times on the first page of SERPs for “Apple iPod.” Google explained that if the algorithm recognizes that a query is associated with a specific brand or website, that website would be more likely to appear in SERPs for the sake of relevance.
- Panda (2011): Throughout 2011, a series of updates were designed to target content farms, thin content, ad-heavy sites, low-quality affiliate sites, and other low-value domains. Impacting nearly 12% of websites, the Panda update (named after Google engineer Navneet Panda) sent enduring shockwaves through the SEO world.
- Penguin (2012): Known best for its attempt to combat webspam, the Penguin update went after websites that violated Google’s Webmaster Guidelines (now known as Google’s Search Essentials) with their use of manipulative tactics. In particular, Penguin examined website backlinks for signs of paid link schemes, as well as keyword stuffing. Over 3% of English language queries were impacted by this update.
- Pirate (2012): Shorthand for a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)-oriented update, this change aimed to rid the internet of illegal use of copyrighted content. With this rollout, Google announced an intention to penalize sites with repeat violations by factoring in DMCA takedown requests as a ranking metric. Talk about walking the plank.
- Exact-Match Domain (2012): Exact-match domains, which were designed to rank on specific target keywords, once did very well in SERPs. With this update, Google set out to devalue spammy, low-value websites that featured exact-match domains – signaling another technique used to fight back against manipulative ranking tactics.
- Hummingbird (2013): Continuing Google’s tradition of animal-themed major updates was Hummingbird, named for its “quick and precise” method of rewriting the broad core algorithm. Impacting an estimated 90% of worldwide searches upon its completed rollout, the Hummingbird update shifted Google’s algorithm from exact-match query results to contextual and natural language. In other words, it provided better results based on how searchers really communicate (i.e., in complete phrases, rather than the sum of all its disparate parts) – an especially important update given the increasing popularity of voice-powered search.
- Pigeon (2014): Another bird-inspired Google algo update, this change centered around local search. The Pigeon update is credited with improving search localization. Not only did Google start using more traditional ranking factors like relevance and quality for local search results, but this update prioritized proximity in a new way.
- HTTPS/SSL (2014): Site security was officially introduced as a ranking signal with this update, resulting in small rankings boosts to websites that had already implemented encryption measures. Adding SSL certification to a website, which moved a site’s web address from “HTTP” to “HTTPS,” was once a risky act where SEO was concerned. These days, it’s necessary for any reputable website.
- Mobile-Friendly (2015): Colloquially known as “Mobilegeddon,” this 2015 update gave a boost to mobile-friendly pages – but only in mobile search results. Google likely developed this update due to the increasing number of mobile searchers, so the public was actually given advance warning for this update. However, its impact was a lot less significant than anticipated.
- RankBrain (2015): Google’s first public foray into deep learning and artificial intelligence officially launched after undergoing a 6-month testing phase, highlighting the algorithm’s power to anticipate search behavior and deliver better results through prior search analysis. Although it was once used for a mere 15% of searches, RankBrain was later revealed to be one of Google’s top 3 most important ranking factors and is now involved in nearly every query performed.
- Possum (2016): Local search once again took center stage in this update, named for the visual tricks (i.e., “playing possum”) that the algorithm’s filters unintentionally played on many small business owners. While this update largely impacted results in what’s now known as the map pack, it reportedly gave a boost to some businesses that couldn’t seem to crack the organic local search code – a clue to many in the SEO world that the local map pack algorithm operates independently of other local search results.
- Fred (2017): While still technically unconfirmed, the so-called “Fred” update targeted low-value content, spam, and revenue-over-usefulness websites. Google has declined to comment on this update, despite notable rankings fluctuations – particularly among low-quality blogs with high levels of display ads and affiliate links, which reportedly saw traffic drops of 50-90%, according to Search Engine Land.
- Mobile Speed (2018): While page speed had already been a factor in desktop search rankings, this update introduced page speed as a ranking factor for mobile search. This was another rare update that was announced with ample lead time, giving website owners a 6-month warning of its impending release.
- Brackets (2018): Google made an adjustment to its broad core algorithm in March 2018, coinciding with March Madness (hence, the update’s nickname). This Google core algorithm update focused on content quality – but instead of punishing low-value sites, this update was meant to reward sites that previously went under-recognized. Consequently, some sites that had been benched all season finally got their chance to play and show everyone what they were made of.
- Mobile-First Indexing (2018): The mobile experience got a lot of Google’s focus in 2018, with mobile-first indexing rolling out hot on the heels of the “Brackets” broad core update. Google had tested this change for nearly a year and a half before it was finally released, signaling a significant shift from desktop to mobile search.
- Medic (2018): As one of the most infamous Google core algorithm updates, the “Medic” update got its name from its laser focus on sites in the health, wellness, and medical space. Many other websites under the YMYL umbrella also saw rankings volatility, with e-commerce, business, and technology sites also taking a large hit. Some speculate that this update was intended to combat potentially harmful misinformation, though it’s unclear as to whether medical sites were a specific target or a merely incidental casualty.
- BERT (2019): Google’s new machine learning algorithm built for natural language processing made its official debut with this update, which gets its acronymic title from “Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers.” It’s a complex way of saying that this algorithm had a clearer, more complete understanding of search queries based on conversational language. Google claimed that BERT would better understand 10% of English language queries and that this update represented the biggest change to search in 5 years.
- Core Updates (2020): COVID-19 wasn’t the only massive change that took the world by storm in 2020. The same year, Google rolled out 3 broad core updates, including one in May that reportedly targeted health-related misinformation. May and December’s updates showed the highest rankings fluctuations since the Medic update rolled out in 2018. The latter also caused a bit of outcry, as pre-holiday updates hardly ever bring good news for business owners.
- Product Reviews (2021): A brand new Google search algorithm update, this change prioritized real, robust reviews from experts over mediocre product summaries. Google even went so far as to offer in-depth guidance for product review content to assist site owners in creating the kind of content rewarded by the algorithm.
- Page Experience (2021): This update arguably received the most pre-release hype from Google itself, giving site owners, developers, and SEOs a huge heads up before its gradual rollout in summer 2021. Interestingly, despite all the hubbub, the Core Web Vitals and Page Experience update didn’t wreak as much havoc as many expected.
- Spam and Link Spam (2021): Google also released a series of algorithm updates aimed at improving spam detection and nullification. Notably, one of the updates centered around link spam and the importance of rel attributes to clearly identify affiliate links, sponsored links, and guest post links.
- Helpful Content (2022-2023): Although these updates doesn’t introduce any new concepts, they highlight the importance of “person-first” content in an increasingly bot-dependent landscape. In its attempt to reward sites that provide true value for actual human readers, the Helpful Content update hit some SEO-centric sites hard. More than likely, E-E-A-T will continue to play a role in the kinds of content Google wants to see in subsequent updates.
This list and timeline graphic don’t include every single broad core or major update, but we hope this overview can help inform your understanding of Google trends over time. Using this information, you can more accurately predict when we’re due for a big update and how machine learning has impacted the types of tweaks made to the Google search algorithm throughout the years.
How Can I Protect My Clients From a Google Search Algorithm Update?
It’s rare to receive advance notice that an algorithm update is scheduled to take place. While we had just under a year to prepare for the Page Experience update and we’ve gotten a heads-up for a handful of other changes, most major updates and broad core updates aren’t officially confirmed until the rollout has actually begun.
Still, even without Google-issued warning, there are some steps we can take to prepare for an inevitable algorithm update.
Follow Google’s Search Essentials
Google won’t give us all the answers we need, but they’re pretty good about providing a general framework for us. In Google’s Search Essentials (the new name for their Webmaster Guidelines), you’ll find bare-minimum technical requirements, spam policies, and best practices to guide your strategy. You can refer to these resources as a checklist when evaluating a client’s site for potential improvement opportunities. Google also breaks down a number of SEO fundamentals, as well as information about crawling, indexing, and ranking. There are even specific guides for e-commerce and multilingual sites. The information we do get from Google is precious, so make full use of it and follow their recommendations to the letter.
Publish Authoritative Content, Written for Humans
This advice might sound tired, but it bears repeating – especially in the wake of the recent Helpful Content update. Google wants to see high-caliber, authoritative, and unique content that’s intended to help real human readers. For years, websites were able to rank using content meant to appeal to search engines first. Now, Google is cracking down on this kind of content, even if it’s not particularly egregious. Moving forward, surface-level, run-of-the-mill blog posts aren’t going to cut it. You can help your clients protect themselves by ensuring their content speaks to their one-of-a-kind expertise and is written with their true customers in mind.
Maximize the User Experience
Google’s goal is to provide web users with the most valuable experience possible. Not only do you need to provide exemplary answers, but you also need to ensure they’re easy to access. User experience has been at the forefront of several previous algo updates, so it’s not something you can just put off. Be sure your clients’ sites feature mobile responsive design, simple navigation, and fast loading times. Pay attention to the Core Web Vitals, fix any web development issues, and make site map recommendations that will help Google’s bots crawl the site more effectively. Even prioritizing conversion rate optimization (CRO) can improve the overall user experience, as you’ll help guide leads through their buyer’s journey.
Perform Regular Audits and Analyses
A pre-update website audit can allow you to identify and fix possible issues – like site speed, indexing problems, and missing on-page optimizations – before they do any real rankings damage. Additionally, SEO audits or backlink audits can help you get even more granular about your client’s strategy. Even if they merely confirm that everything’s going according to plan, you’ll at least be able to prove you’ve done your due diligence leading up to an update. This data can also help you eliminate possible root causes for rankings fluctuations and get you on the road to recovery a lot sooner. A white label SEO agency partner like Semify will perform audits and analyses like these at the start of a campaign, as well as throughout its lifetime, to ensure there’s no stone left unturned.
Focus on Overlooked Ranking Signals
Google uses over 200 distinct ranking signals as part of its algorithm calculations. While most of the entries in Google algorithm update history cover only a fraction of those ranking factors, that doesn’t mean we can simply assume that the rest don’t matter. Take a look at Search Engine Land’s list of confirmed and suspected ranking signals to assess whether there are blind spots in your strategy.
During your evaluation, you may want to ask questions like:
- How well does your client’s content match up with searcher intent?
- Is their website accessible to searchers with disabilities?
- Is their thin, outdated content cannibalizing search traffic so better versions can’t rank?
- Have you remembered to include schema markup?
- Does their content have verifiable, reputable authorship?
Of course, you’ll want to dive into these overlooked signals only after you’ve addressed the ones Google likes to highlight most during algorithm updates. Once you’ve done that, you can then ensure all your bases are covered.
Develop a Holistic Marketing Strategy
Speaking of covering all your bases: Diversification is one of the best ways to protect your clients in the event that things go awry. We believe wholeheartedly in the power of SEO, but that doesn’t mean your strategy should be devoid of other marketing efforts.
The reality is that we’re not completely in control of much in the world of marketing. Yes, your clients have their website and their Google Business Profile. But ultimately, Google has the power. If the search engine were to decide to completely reinvent the organic search algorithm and to get rid of the GBP platform, would your clients be able to survive?
That’s not a likely scenario, but it does illustrate the importance of a multi-pronged approach to marketing. If your clients do experience a hit after an algorithm update rolls out, you’ll want to be able to rely on other forms of marketing and promotion as you work toward recovery. Paid advertisements (including Google Ads and display ads), social media marketing, and online review management are just a few additional ways you can help your clients get found online that aren’t totally dependent on the organic search algorithm. By developing a diverse strategy now, your clients will have a safety net for later.
Get Extra Support and Expertise
Just like with your vehicle, regular maintenance and early identification of possible problems can often prevent a bad situation down the road. But whether or not you bring your campaign into the “shop” for those preventative checks, unexpected tire blow-outs and dead batteries can still occur – often at the most inconvenient times. And when you’re busy actually running your organization, you probably don’t have the bandwidth to run audits, analyze data, or write content yourself. Working with a white label SEO partner like Semify can help deliver better results while checking off all the boxes to prevent a potential algorithmic disaster.
How Can I Help My Clients Recover From the Latest Google Algorithm Update?
You already know to keep your cool in the immediate hours and days following a confirmed or suspected update. But once the rollout has finished, what’s next?
Despite all your best efforts, it’s possible that your client’s campaign gets caught in an algorithmic fender bender. Depending on the update and the sites that have been most affected, your dedicated account manager may have more specific guidance for post-update recovery. However, most experts will recommend taking the following steps after an update for general improvement.
- Explain the Difference Between Fluctuations and Penalties. Contrary to what some clients might think, post-update rankings volatility doesn’t indicate that they’ve done anything wrong. Any actual penalties will be listed in the client’s Google Search Console, but it’s more likely that their site is among thousands of others being impacted by the algorithm. Assuring them that they’re not in trouble with Google can lower their stress levels and ensure mindful decisions are made in the aftermath.
- Learn About the Widespread Effects. While not every update has an official name or obvious focus, we can discover a lot about its general impact by paying attention to industry chatter, checking in with reputable SEO news sources, and using rank volatility tools. And although it’s important to remember that correlation doesn’t necessarily equal causation, these systems can help us identify patterns and draw reasonable conclusions. This data can tell you where to focus your efforts during the recovery phase.
- Look Closely at Analytics Data. Knowing how an update impacts the community at-large is helpful, but you’ll also need to dive into your client’s own data – and we’re here to help you make sense of it all. Our team is currently performing campaign audits in the wake of the most recent Helpful Content update to determine what, if any, impact our resellers’ clients are experiencing. We’ll use that data to help our partners develop a comprehensive recovery strategy moving forward. You and your account manager can take a similar approach following virtually any update, big or small.
- Create Unique Content With E-E-A-T in Mind. Creating great content can help minimize the impact of an algo update, but it’s also often cited as the cure. However, even though Content remains king, not just any content will reign supreme. Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trust are the values that should drive your content strategy. We know that it’s something Google really cares about, so any algo update recovery effort should prioritize E-E-A-T.
- Consider What Else Google Wants to See. That said, incredible content won’t make up for bad website design or other technical issues. Look through Google’s known ranking signals and guidelines, perform website audits, and conduct a competitor analysis to reveal the other areas that might benefit from increased attention between now and the next update rollout. Make sure you work with an SEO partner you can trust to highlight what you might have overlooked.
NOTE: Although Google is constantly updating its algorithm, the changes you make post-update may not kick into high gear until the next major update comes around. Even if you don’t receive immediate confirmation that your efforts will provide a fix, having a clear understanding of what Google wants to see can guide your recovery strategy.
The Best Defense Against Google Algorithm Updates is a Reliable White Label SEO Partner
We’ll probably never be thrilled when Google rolls out a new algorithm update – just like we’ll never be elated to be involved in a car crash. But Google updates and car accidents are both facts of life. Even when we do everything right, we can’t always avoid them.
The trick is knowing how to minimize damage and which steps to take in the aftermath. As a white label SEO reseller with Semify, you’re already taking preventative measures to keep your client campaigns safe. Not only will we do our due diligence to avoid problems before they occur, but we’ll also be your guide in the event of a Google algorithm update. That way, both your business and your clients are in great hands – and you’ll be back on the road to SEO success in no time.