Google’s core updates can have a significant impact on businesses that heavily rely on organic traffic. With Google handling over 93% of web search queries, a drop in website traffic due to a core update can have negative implications for the profitability and viability of many businesses large and small.
However, there is hope. By following a checklist of steps, you can gradually improve your site’s rankings and increase the chances of recovering from the losses incurred. In this post, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the recovery process after a Google Core Update has hit your rankings.
Understanding Google Core Updates
Before diving into the recovery checklist, it’s important to understand what a Google core update entails. While Google’s search algorithms are constantly updated, there are times when significant changes are made, known as “broad core updates”. The most recent core update, named the “March 2023 core update,” was rolled out on March 15, 2023.
According to Google, these broad core updates are designed to ensure the delivery of relevant and authoritative content to searchers. This implies that sites may experience a drop in rankings if they are perceived to have issues with relevance and authority. The question then becomes: Can these problems be fixed, and if so, how?
Google’s Perspective on Recovery
Google’s stance on recovering from a broad core update has been somewhat mixed over the years. Previously, Google stated that “pages that drop after a core update don’t have anything wrong to fix”. However, in May 2022, Google’s advice became more ambiguous, acknowledging that those experiencing drops in rankings of course will be looking for a fix.
John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, has also indicated that it is possible to recover from a core update by making incremental improvements to your site. In Google’s Search Central video hangouts, Mueller has emphasised the importance of making changes to regain lost traffic. While the inner workings of Google’s algorithms remain undisclosed, through research, experience, and Google’s advice on creating quality content, we have identified steps that can help you recover over time.
Recovery Checklist: 10 Steps to Follow
1) Stay Calm
When faced with a significant drop in site traffic, it’s natural to panic. However, rushing into making changes without careful consideration can be counterproductive. It’s crucial to remember that Google updates take time to roll out, often spanning a couple of weeks. During this period, search results may fluctuate wildly, and the changes observed might not be permanent. By staying calm and waiting until a core update rollout is complete and the adverse effects on your site are confirmed over a longer period, you can avoid making hasty decisions that could negatively impact your site’s content and rankings.
2) Use Data to Identify Content for Improvement
Once the core update rollout is complete, it’s essential to identify the content that has been most affected. Utilise SEO tools to track position rankings and identify pages that have experienced a significant drop. Additionally, Google’s Search Console and Google Analytics can provide valuable insights into pages that have suffered traffic declines. Compile a spreadsheet of these “problem pages” to focus your recovery efforts on.
3) Improve Relevance of Problem Pages
Relevance is a key factor in determining rankings. To make your content more relevant than your competitors’, consider the following strategies:
Ensure your pages and posts are up to date: Update any outdated or inaccurate information on your “problem pages.” This is particularly important for review sites, as products and services can change over time.
Cover topics in depth: Analyse competing pages that are outranking yours and determine if they cover aspects or issues in more detail. While avoiding excessive “long-form content,” aim to provide comprehensive and valuable information to your audience. This could involve expanding on existing content or creating new content to address any gaps.
4) Enhance Authority and Trustworthiness
Apart from relevance, Google also assesses the authority and trustworthiness of websites. To improve these aspects, consider the following:
Build high-quality backlinks: Earn links from reputable and authoritative websites in your industry. Focus on obtaining natural backlinks through content creation, outreach, and relationship building.
Showcase expertise: Establish your site as a trustworthy source by showcasing the expertise and credentials of your products or services you offer. Including credentials is great for showing your website viewers you are the to go company for expertise in this sector and area, this can be crucial in making your case you are the best solution.
Increase social proof: Encourage positive user reviews, testimonials, and social media mentions to boost your site’s credibility and trustworthiness. Linking up all your ‘branded’ socials helps enable the one clear message you want for the company brand image across all media.
5) Optimise Technical Elements
Technical aspects play a vital role in search engine rankings. Ensure your site adheres to best practices by:
Conducting a technical SEO audit: Identify and resolve any technical issues that might affect your site’s performance, such as broken links, duplicate content, or crawl errors. Using tools to help you with this will give you a comprehensive analysis and report on any problems.
Implementing structured data: Markup your content with structured data to provide search engines with more context and enhance your visibility in rich snippets and knowledge panels.
Optimising site speed: Improve page load times by optimising images, leveraging caching mechanisms, and minimising HTTP requests. Fast-loading pages not only enhance the user experience but can also positively impact your rankings.
Client reviews play a crucial role in improving your website’s Google ranking. They provide social proof, boost credibility, and increase trust among both search engines and users. Positive reviews can enhance visibility, attract more clicks, and drive organic traffic to your site and boost all your different places in Google you are ranked.
They contribute fresh content with relevant keywords, signaling to search engines that your website is active and up-to-date. Additionally, reviews improve user engagement, lower bounce rates, and increase dwell time on your site. By prioritising client reviews, especially after a Google core system update, you can boost your website’s rankings, credibility, and overall online reputation.
Having reviews on Google itself is great of course, but later core system updates have been now known to be taken into account reviews for your business on other 3rd party review sites too.
7) Build a Diverse and Natural Link Profile
A strong and diverse link profile is crucial for long-term SEO success. While link building is an ongoing process, it’s essential to focus on building a diverse range of high-quality backlinks to your website. This helps to establish your site’s authority and signals to search engines that your content is valuable and trustworthy.
To build a diverse and natural link profile, consider the following strategies:
Guest blogging: Contribute high-quality guest posts to authoritative websites in your industry. This not only helps you earn valuable backlinks but also exposes your content to a wider audience.
Engage in influencer marketing: Maybe not for everyone, but if your products fit then collaborate with influencers or industry experts to create content or promote your brand. Their endorsements and mentions can attract relevant traffic and generate valuable backlinks.
Participate in industry forums and communities: Engage with relevant online communities, forums, and discussion boards related to your niche. Share valuable insights, answer questions, and include links to relevant content when appropriate. This can help you establish yourself as an authority in your field and attract natural backlinks.
Monitor and reclaim lost links: Regularly monitor your backlink profile and identify any lost or broken links. Reach out to the website owners and request that they update the links or restore them. Restoring lost links can help regain lost authority and improve your site’s rankings.
Focus on content promotion: Create high-quality, shareable content that naturally attracts backlinks. Promote your content through social media, email newsletters, blog posts on yoru own news section and outreach to relevant industry publications. The more visibility your content receives, the higher the chances of earning organic backlinks.
Remember, while building a diverse and natural link profile is important, it’s equally crucial to prioritise quality over quantity. Focus on acquiring links from authoritative and relevant sources, rather than engaging in spammy or low-quality link-building practices. Google values links that are earned naturally and are contextually relevant to your content.
By implementing these additional strategies, you can further enhance your website’s recovery efforts after a Google core update and improve your overall search engine rankings.
8) Enhance User Experience (UX)
User experience plays a significant role in search engine rankings. Google aims to provide the best possible results for users, so it prioritises websites that offer a positive and seamless user experience. To recover from a Google core update and improve your rankings, focus on enhancing the UX of your website and if any updates are required.
Mobile responsiveness: With the increasing number of mobile users, it’s essential to have a mobile-friendly website. Make sure your site is responsive and adapts well to different screen sizes and resolutions.
Clear navigation and site structure: Ensure that your website has a clear and intuitive navigation structure. Make it easy for users to find the information they’re looking for, and organise your content in a logical manner.
Engaging and relevant content: Create high-quality, informative, and engaging content that aligns with the search intent of your target audience. Use headings, subheadings, and bullet points to improve readability and make your content more scannable, making sure your page has all the must have SEO triggers on every page to aid it’s boosts in Google.
User-friendly design: Pay attention to the overall design of your website. Use a clean and visually appealing layout, choose legible fonts, and make sure your website is visually appealing and easy on the eyes of your viewers.
9) Implement Natural Language Processing (NLP) Techniques
Voice search is driven by natural language processing, which allows search engines to understand the context and intent behind user queries. To optimise your website for voice search, consider implementing NLP techniques. This involves analysing and structuring your content in a way that aligns with how people speak and ask questions naturally.
a) Use Conversational Keywords: Incorporate conversational keywords and phrases that people are likely to use when speaking their queries. Think about how your target audience would ask questions related to your products, services, or industry. By integrating these conversational keywords into your content, you increase the chances of matching the voice search queries.
b) Create FAQ Pages: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages can be highly beneficial for voice search optimisation. Compile a list of common questions and provide concise, conversational answers. Optimise the FAQ page by using structured data markup, making it easier for search engines to identify and present your content as voice search results.
c) Focus on Long-Tail Keywords: Long-tail keywords are more specific and closely resemble how people phrase their voice queries. Research and incorporate long-tail keywords into your content strategy. Consider using Google tools for SEO keyword research to identify relevant long-tail keywords that align with your target audience’s voice search behaviour.
d) Optimise for Local Voice Search: If your business has a local presence, optimising for local voice search is crucial. Voice searches often have local intent, such as “find a restaurant near me” or “what are the store hours of XYZ business.” Ensure your website is optimised for local SEO, including location-specific keywords, localised content, and accurate business information across online directories and indexes.
e) Leverage Voice Search Platforms: Explore opportunities to integrate your website with voice search platforms and digital assistants. For example, consider creating voice-activated applications or skills for voice-enabled devices like Amazon Echo or Google Home. This can enhance your visibility and accessibility to users relying on voice search.
We might still be on the front edge of using voice search to aid your website ranking, but by incorporating these additional strategies into your existing SEO efforts, you can further optimise your website for voice search and making your website more ‘future proof’ at the same time. Remember to regularly analyse and monitor your website’s performance in voice search results, adjust your strategy as needed, and stay updated with the latest voice search trends and technologies as this important part of the world moves on.
10) Monitor and Adapt
Recovery from a core update is not an overnight process. It requires continuous monitoring, analysis, and adaptation. Keep track of your site’s performance, rankings, and organic traffic regularly. Make adjustments based on data insights, reports and user feedback.
Additionally, stay informed about future core updates and algorithm changes by following official Google channels, industry forums, and reputable SEO publications. This will help you proactively prepare for any future updates and hopfully help to minimise potential negative impacts or at least you know then for any reason why your website rankings might have changed.
Here to help you if you need a hand
Recovering from a Google core update can be a challenging and time-consuming process. However, by following the steps outlined in this checklist, it can help guide you to enhance your website’s relevance, authority, and trustworthiness over time, increasing the likelihood of recovering from any traffic losses or drops in rankings. Remember to approach the recovery process with patience, as it may take several months to see noticeable improvements. Stay focused, adapt to the evolving SEO landscape, and continue delivering valuable content to your audience to boost your visibility and Google ranks.
If you need help to recover from a Google core system update or even if you want your website to be in the best shape it can be with our SEO services. We can help you, if you have or are experiencing your ranking in Google dropping down down the pages, get our help and advise on what course of action is best suited to your own website.
Call us on 0800 118 2411 for more details on how DDA consultancy services can help you with everything related to SEO, PPC and Digital Marketing.