Google algorithm

Google’s algorithm updated, again

Why do we care so much about Google?

At AMBITIOUS, SEO is core to how we write. We produce content that has an SEO aim in one way or another. Content is essential, and writing is one of the things we do best, so we want our words to stick around in the search results for as long as possible. And as high up the first page as possible.

Above that is the impact on our clients. If we can affect search results and get content to rank higher and for longer, we improve brand awareness, visibility and ultimately their conversions.

So, understanding and adapting to Google updates like this are vital for our work. We take notice, and so should you. This article will provide what you need to know about this latest update and why you should care. And yes, we optimised this piece as well. It can’t hurt, can it?

What are Google algorithm updates?

If anything is true about SEO, the algorithm will be updated. This unavoidable occurrence shakes the fabric of what we know about the search engine that we spend time, effort, and resources on understanding.

An algorithm update means that Google has gone into its platform and tinkered with it. That can be as small as changing the Google Business info box design. It could also be as significant as altering ranking factors or introducing a new form of rich snippet. These are the kind of changes that we as PR professionals need to keep on top of, as they can have real and immediate effects on the content we produce and place.

With each passing update, we must question everything, resetting our strategy and changing with the times. It’s the best and worst thing about SEO. Relearning every six months or so is necessary. That’s for sure. But it’s also what keeps us honest and curious. No time to rest on your laurels in SEO.

The last time Google updated

July was the last time that the ground shook. Google updated its search quality rater guidelines, revising how it attributes quality to content and affects where content will rank.

It was not a full-on earthquake, but a tremor, nonetheless. Where content is ranking is probably the most impactful part of SEO to pay attention to, so this update acutely concerns us in PR.

And now again, only a few months later…

We had a full-on quake. Top of the Richter scale stuff. Google released another update in August: the Helpful Update. And like with an earthquake, people are scrambling around trying to figure out which way is up, get their bearings and come up with a strategy to navigate the mess and confusion.

That’s what SEO professionals are doing all around the world right now. It’s a comforting fact that Google does not discriminate. Every website is going to experience the same changes to ranking.

We are still in the early days, as Google only finished updating in early September. The long-term impact is not yet known. Core updates like these have ranged from revolutionary to mundane. The first port of call is to work out what exactly has changed and why and then the scale of the impact.

In typical Google fashion, there is little information on what this update will entail. So, it’s up to us as SEO nerds to try and work it out.

Let’s get into it. Here is what we know about Google’s Helpful update so far:

A core update is Google changing multiple parts of its algorithm, not just one element. So, in short, it’s a meaningful update. The Helpful update in August wasn’t technically a core update; however, SEO professionals predicted it would be impactful. That update, which some called the ‘big bang’ update, finished rolling out on the 9th of September. However, it was more of a flop than a bang, with only a limited number of web categories affected.

Now that we have another core update so soon after the last update, many are theorising that this update will intensify the impact of the last one. This will build on the changes already made in July.

It’s also worth mentioning that core updates are traditionally every six months. It has only been five months since the last one, much to the annoyance of the SEO community, as the longer we are given to adapt between updates, the better.

There are also early signs that this update will be a big one, with many SEO insiders reporting large fluctuations in traffic, which suggests significant updates. Ultimately, it is too early to tell just how big the update will be.

Despite the fearmongering (something we’ve probably done a bit of here), there is no need to panic. SEO consultant Qamar Zaman puts it well:

“There’s nothing in a core update that targets specific pages or sites. Instead, the changes are about improving how our systems assess content overall. These changes may cause some pages that were previously under-rewarded to do better.”

We’ll know a lot more in the coming weeks and months what the impact is. The main takeaway here should be that if you observe any weird happenings with your ranking over the next few weeks, then don’t panic because it is just the algorithm change settling in.

Why you should care

While it is not essential to keep up to date with each algorithm change (that’s what we are for), you should check in when significant updates, like this latest core update, come into play. These are the ones that will have a material effect on ranking and will influence how prominently your business appears in the search results.

It is critical for a multitude of things. Firstly, your online reputation. Will the URLs you want to rank highly still be there following a core update? Will the URLs you may not want to be prominent rear their ugly heads? These are critical things to be aware of from a reputation perspective.

And from a sales perspective, is your website getting the traffic it deserves? Will it be leveraged to enable conversations, or does it need some tweaking post update? As a business, there is no better time to be asking yourself these questions than when Google releases a new core algorithm update.

Be aware, stay up to date – don’t panic – and react accordingly. The next update is coming, so let’s tackle this latest one head-on.