Google’s Latest Algorithm Change: What You Need to Know
In the aftermath of the Google algorithm update on August 1, digital devotees are scrambling to assess its impact. Described as a broad core update on a global scale, this change has caused notable flux in site rankings worldwide.
With over 200 ranking factors at play, alterations to even a few of these can wreak havoc on millions of search engine rankings. Considering that top results of organic searches account for around 35% of clicks, site owners can’t afford the risk of a rank drop.
In today’s post, we’ll give you the breakdown of Google’s latest algorithm change. Who gets affected, the effects themselves, and most importantly – actionable measures you can take to remedy damaged rankings.
But firstly, what do the masterminds behind the change have to say?
According to Google
Now that the update has been fully rolled out, Google has been inundated with questions. Although the questions from those affected by the update are varied, most of them boil down to this: “How do I fix it?!”
The search engine monolith responded with a reiteration of previous advice, pictured above. Tending towards ambiguity, the message behind Google’s sagely wisdom can be interpreted as “business as usual”.
Google offers a service designed to reward sites offering the best user experiences. They would rather have site owners focus on providing a seamless experience, and let the rankings roll in based on merit. This is good advice, however ambiguous it may appear at first.
We can’t blame Google for discouraging people from attempting to game their system. While the advice to simply “create better content” may be frustrating on a surface level, it does leave a clue as to the nature of the update itself. By analysing the results of the Google algorithm change, we begin to understand the rationale behind it.
Will It Be Your Money, Or Your Life?
The most noticeable result of the update is that Your Money Or Your Life (YMYL) sites are under close scrutiny. Named for the subject matter they deal with, YMYLs are often health, legal or finance websites.
These appear to be vastly different fields on the surface, but they do have one thing in common: If sites dealing with such sensitive topics promote low quality advice or products, they have the potential to negatively impact a person’s life.
Because of these implications, quality standards for content on YMYL sites are very high. These requirements are set in stone within Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines, which have also seen recent updates. What we are seeing implies an emphasis on more than just user experience, but user safety as well.
Compromised Content Credibility
There is a pattern of YMYL sites experiencing a notable drop in ranking since the Google algorithm change was enacted. Even some E-Commerce, educational and specialised hobby guide sites experienced a degree of volatility. One key factor which links negatively impacted sites is the questionable integrity of their content.
What renders content questionable? Just like magicians never reveal their secrets, Google rarely reveals its exact criterion. However, the consensus is that high-value content is straightforward, with no hidden agendas.
For E-Commerce sites, this means avoiding the practice of hiding sales pitches behind “helpful content”. For health and wellbeing sites, this translates to not bombarding users with ads promoting their own products. At the end of the day, it can be interpreted as posting high quality content over posting for its own sake.
We All Need To E-A-T
Termed by Google themselves, E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. On the internet, everyone claims to be an expert in their field. To separate the professionals from the pretenders, Google continually refines its E-A-T criteria. By demoting YMYL pages with low E-A-T, sites with legitimate content authors rise to the top.
Proven experience and clout in their field denote a legitimate author. For instance, this means that medical articles should be written by qualified physicians for optimal SEO practice. By taking punitive action against sites who would have bloggers pose as doctors, Google is giving us a hint as to the philosophy behind their algorithm change.
Given the evidence, there may be truth to speculation that the Google algorithm update reflects increased examination of E-A-T standards. With this in mind, the biggest takeaway for site owners following the Google algorithm update is to actively prioritise original, quality content. Stunning content will establish your site as the cream of the crop – and Google will reward you for it.
Every digital marketer worth their salt knows that content is king, but how do you go about improving it? For pointers and guidance on writing high-impact content, take a look at our recent Step-By-Step Crash Course on Writing Persuasive Content for your E-Commerce Website.