Search results are critical proof that your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts are worth the effort.
While you may feel like best practices have you in the driver’s seat as you travel the road to the number one spot on search engine results pages (SERPs), the truth is that you are really only pushing the gas as Google algorithms take the wheel unexpectedly every so often.
Let’s take a look at algorithm updates, whether or not you can predict them, and what you can do if an update negatively impacts your site.
What is an Algorithm Update?
The total Google algorithm uses a conglomerate of ranking factors to decide which sites appear in relevant searches. Algorithm updates occur when Google finds new ways to improve the search engine experience for users.
To Google, these tweaks to the algorithm can indicate several big changes to what Google deems important. While Google itself sees algorithm shifts as a refinement, these changes often have an unexpected negative impact on sites that were once sitting comfortably in their ranking positions.
Signs of an Impending Algorithm Update
As much as you’d like to be able to see into the future and make SEO adjustments before an algorithm update happens, the truth is that most of these instances occur without informing anyone outside of the inner-SEO hierarchy.
You may not even realize an update has occurred until an SEO agency points out why your rankings have dwindled down the drain.
However, if you keep your ear to the ground it’s possible to hear rumbling about updates outside of official announcements that signal the rat race for repair.
From articles on Search Engine Journal to impromptu Tweets from industry thought leaders tend to issue warnings that updates are on the horizon. We say, it can never hurt to heed the warnings and prevent some of the SEO devastation we’ll get into below.
Has Your Site Been Affected By an Algorithm Update?
Whether your content is too short or you aren’t keeping your site up to acceptable speeds, several little issues can begin to negatively impact your rankings after a refinement.
Here’s a look at some of the signs that your site may need an adjustment after you hear about the announcement of a new algorithm update.
Drastic Search Ranking Change
Unless you’ve made a massive change in your SEO practices, it’s unlikely that your rankings will plummet overnight. So, if you find one day that you’ve dropped from page 1 to page 5 for seemingly no reason at all, the problem could be in line with a recent Google update.
In 2020 alone, Google implemented over 4,500 updates that impacted sites across the internet.
Some of the latest changes that could have affected your site are:
- An emphasis on product reviews
- Including pros and cons blogs as ranking factors
- Emphasis on authority and answering essential Google questions within content
- Emphasis on content that is conversational
- Spammy link nullification
- General page experience on your site, and more!
If your site starts to experience technical issues that slow down its loading process, this could be a sign that a new update is underway.
When Google starts making changes to its ranking criteria and rolls out updates, affected sites may load slower, causing issues with the user experience.
The average site visitor won’t wait longer than a couple of seconds for a site’s page to load before bouncing. So, if you notice a drop in visits and rank, technical troubles could be your problem; but more on that later.
Drops in Site Visits
If you care about SEO, you likely check your analytics every month. Even if you don’t know where you rank for certain keywords on search, it’s important to know how your site visits on a regular basis.
If you find that your organic visits drastically drop from one month to the next, it’s time to start looking into the potential for an algorithm update impact.
How to Recover from an Algorithm Shift?
While it can be scary to wake up one morning to find that your site is no longer ranking well, the good news is that it’s easy to find out the problem and start getting your site back on track.
If your site was affected by a recent update, follow these helpful tips to start ranking again and possibly stay ahead of the curve for the next update.
Keep Your Content Consistent
Content isn’t a one-and-done effort for SEO success. Even a well-ranking blog can easily be de-throned if it doesn’t meet the standards of the latest algorithm shift. Therefore, if you’re trying to stay ahead of the update game, writing constant content is always a great idea.
Relevant content that is posted on a consistent basis isn’t guaranteed a free pass during an update, but it has the potential to mitigate some of the aftermaths that can occur.
Writing at least 2 to 4 relevant blogs a month that utilize keywords and are long-form can help you stay at the top of SERPs even after the latest update.
Look Back on Older Content
If you don’t have time to write regular blogs every month and an update impacts your site, that’s ok! One thing you can do to help bring up your rankings is to look back on your older content.
Review the recent update standards and start to trim the fat on the content you do have. From deleting older blogs that are doing you no favors to optimizing and updating your evergreen blogs that could rank well again, there is a lot of good that older content can do for your site after minimal updates.
Perform a Technical Audit
If you know that your content is fantastic but still find yourself in hot water after an update, you may have a technical problem on your hands. Between site loading speed and backend widgets on your CMS becoming less valuable, it can be difficult to pinpoint your problem if it’s a technical one.
Your SEO team can help you perform a technical audit that brings any technical issues into focus. From there, they can guide you through an optimization process that leaves your site running smoothly, improves the user experience, and most of all, gets you out of an update rut.
Stay on Top of Algorithm Updates with Atlantic Digital Marketing
Algorithm shifts can seem like the end of the world for your site, but with the help of a dedicated marketing team on your side, you can bring your rankings out of an unexpected dip. Atlantic Digital Marketing is Atlanta’s premier SEO agency and can help you and your brand perfect its SEO strategy and make quick, effective adjustments when search engine algorithm updates strike.
Reach out to us today to learn more about our services!