Life as a digital marketer can be bewildering sometimes. Just when everything seems to be chugging along nicely, something drastic happens; traffic drops or spikes, rankings plummet or go through the roof.
And sometimes there is no obvious explanation for it!
Often it is Google or other search engines that are introducing new algorithms. We know that Google in particular have confirmed that they carry out hundreds of tests a year to see what is working for users and to improve their search engine user experience. Many of the ups and downs of search ranking turbulence are merely tests as mentioned and these tests will be rolled back so that rankings go back to more or less where they were before. However, sometimes these changes are implemented as fixed core ranking algorithm updates. Last week, Google admitted the “phantom” changes in rankings that people were experiencing was due to an core algorithm update.
Quality content assessment
The reason for the last update is to assess sites for “quality,” although again it is not easy to determine how Google assesses quality. However, we do know that a lot of the changes implemented are often to do with the search engine’s ‘Quality Rater Guidelines’ which is the feedback they receive from human reviewers who take a look at sites to see what the results look like and whether the results are as Google had hoped when they update their algorithmic tests.
For example, some sites that publish “How to” articles were hit whereas others were given a boost. There has to be some other explanation, but Google are refusing to explain.
Google content guidelines
Google has made it implicitly clear about the sort of content website owners should be publishing. The company has also made it clear that webmasters should be looking to provide a good user experience to end-users.
If you haven’t already we suggest you read the webmaster guidelines, and the Raters Quality Guidelines (all 100+ pages of it if you can find the time), and make yourself familiar with what Google, and search engines in general, demand from publishers.
There is little digital marketing companies can do to prevent client sites from being swept up in algorithm changes other than stick to the guidelines and assess what future algorithms will bring to the SEO table. Always be considering what your audience would consider to be good and useful content and avoid any spammy tactics designed to trick search engines. These can only ever provide short term benefits and will likely quickly be picked up upon by search engine anti-spam algorithms.