Google Made an Algorithm Change! Is My Content Marketing Going Down the Drain?
Here’s the trickiest part about content marketing and Google – the way Google works is about as unpredictable as an accident or a natural calamity.
No one really knows for sure how Google thinks or when they make algorithm changes. But one thing’s for sure – because people (aka YOUR audience) are perpetually changing, Google would have to change regularly as well. After all, we’re all in the business of trying to adapt to how consumers think.
But first things first – what are Google algorithms?
Algorithms are a set of guidelines that dictate how anything is going to work.
Google algorithms dictate how search results are filtered. It’s an entire system that serves as a gatekeeper telling you whether your content is worthy of page 1 or not.
Knowing what these algorithms are for is simple enough. But understanding how they work, especially with Google’s penchant for vagueness, is an entirely different story.
The 200 Elements that Google Considers
Yes, you read that right. There are over 200 factors that Google considers before it can decide whether your piece should go on top of the search results, or if it should even be considered as a result at all.
This alone tells you how complicated SEO really is. It’s not something you’ll dismiss as something you can learn in one sitting as you watch a YouTube tutorial. It’s something that, more often than not, is best left to experts that really know what they’re doing.
These elements are categorized under these groups:
1.Backlinks (total number of pages, age of the domains where the backlinks come from, etc.)
2.Brand signals (brand keyword searches, brand’s social media presence, brand mentions, etc.)
3.Domain (keyword appearance on domain name, domain registration length, etc.)
4.Off-site webspam (unnatural inflow of links, low-quality directory links, etc.)
5.On-site webspam (links to bad pages, redirects, distracting ads, etc.)
6.Page-level (keyword used on title tag, keyword used in description tag, etc.)
7.Site-level (contact information, valuable content, site architecture, etc.)
8.Special rules (user browsing history, geo targeting, safe search, etc.)
9.User interaction (organic click-throughs, bounce rates, repeat traffic, etc.)
It’s complicated, all right. But Google does that for a reason.
Remember that these searches are made FOR humans. They’re meant for consumers and users looking for answers to questions. You can’t run an effective search engine marketing campaign if you’re only looking at making money for your business. Otherwise, Google would be spouting spammy and salesy content that does not really bring any value to the user.
I Don’t Understand All Those Algorithm Factors. Is My Brand Doomed?
Nope, it’s not.
Neil Patel is one of the biggest digital marketers around, and even he shows major drops in traffic even if he makes no significant changes and remains awesome at what he does.
See that drop from February to April? There was a 25.18% drop in traffic, considering that there weren’t any seasonal factors to speak of, or any significant changes made to his website.
What does this tell us?
That it’s okay for your traffic to fluctuate and that you don’t need to overthink and panic about every single Google algorithm update.
Neil stands by his belief that he doesn’t need Google to tell him what to do – he depends on his followers to tell him that. Considering that he doesn’t really base his actions on Google’s algorithm changes, just look at how his numbers jumped from 2017 to 2018.
His traffic may have dipped in April of 2017, but he continued thinking about the kind of content that HIS AUDIENCE wants and needs. And in the long run, that approach made his numbers get better.
Take note that just because you shouldn’t be jumping to change something each time Google releases an algorithm doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t care about SEO. SEO makes the online world go round. Without it, all hell will break loose and there wouldn’t be any chance for valuable content to be found.
Simply put, long-term SEO success is the dream. Go for the steady (although possibly a bit slow) increase instead of the quick upward motion then zooming right back down in terms of traffic.
Here are a few ways for you to ensure success over the long-term.
Pruning and Cropping Your Content
Ideally, this should be done at least once a year.
Pruning and cropping means updating and improving your current content. Yes, you’ll definitely notice a drop in traffic right after a pruning and cropping session. But if you wait for the storm to pass, you’ll eventually triple your traffic slowly but surely.
How is this done?
List down every single URL on your website. There are tools like Screaming Frog that will ensure you don’t miss out on anything. Next, check each page’s traffic via Google Analytics. Then, check all the backlinks on every page, and lastly, check out each URL’s social shares.
Have all this information listed on a spreadsheet.
Now that you have a list, sort them into these 4 piles:
They land under “optimize” if the page has value. This means that it’s getting decent traffic, backlinks and social shares. You can try updating the content, or add a few internal links to make it even more relevant.
As for pages that are the exact opposite of the pages you’ll want to optimize, the best way to deal with them is to delete them altogether. Pages that do not receive any traffic and have no backlinks and shares are only taking up space on your site. Just make sure that you fix any links that may be redirecting to this page.
Sometimes, you’ll end up creating two pieces of content that are very similar to each other. In this case, just combine the content and redirect to the more popular URL. Make sure you readjust any links going into either page to make sure everyone lands on the right spot.
If the page is doing great and there are no other improvements to be made, leave it as is.
Note that if your blog or website has not been updated for years, then the pruning and cropping may take a long time. This is exactly why you should start making it a consistent effort.
Other Tips to Trigger Long-Term SEO Success
Although pruning and cropping would already work wonders on your long-term content marketing results, these additional tips would ensure that your results would go even further.
Target an international audience. Go for audiences with a high population and a high GDP.
Fix broken media files and links.
Use your Google Search Console to find errors that need to be fixed. If you’re unsure how to use it, you can hire a developer to do this for you.
Build your brand. Google is for people, and people follow their trusted brands.
Monitor your competition. Knowing their every move allows you to outsmart them at every turn.
To cut the long story short, don’t run around in a panic-stricken state each time Google makes an algorithm change. SEO is SEO. Although there are minor tweaks here and there, as long as you look at your own audience’s behavior and think about what’s best for them, you’ll end up with better numbers in the long-term. After all, that’s the exact point of search engine marketing – delivering content for the people.