Knowing how Google is ranking websites is essential to search engine optimization (SEO) and the success of your business. The simple truth is that between 70% – 90% of clicks go to the results listed on Page 1.
Understanding how to get your company on page one means staying up-to-date on the changes in Google’s algorithm over the course of a year. Some of the updates are major, and some don’t seem to make much of a difference.
Here are the Google algorithm changes made so far this year.
February 6th: Unknown Update
Website owners noticed major changes in their web ranking on February 6th, although Google did not announce any official update.
This was a significant Google algorithm update even though it wasn’t named, and it impacted a lot of websites that were listed in the top 100. Some websites benefitted while others fell significantly, according to webmasters.
March 1st: Showing 19 Results on Page One
This was more of a notable glitch than an actual update. For one day the first page of Google showed 19 results instead of the normal 10. This caused a big jump in rankings for some webmasters, although not all of them reported extra traffic as a result.
This was probably the result of an attempted update that didn’t role out correctly, and it was gone the next day. The reversal caused a lot of changes as well, but they simply undid the previous results.
March 12th: Core Update
Google rolls out core updates several times a year but rarely confirms them. One they did talk about happened on March 12th, 2019. Google didn’t give specific details about what the update included. All they said is that if your website was negatively impacted, there would be no “fix.”
In other words, the Google algorithm changes were updating how they wanted search results to operate, and if your website lost ground, it was because Google deemed it to be lower quality than other options. If you were impacted, the only answer is to improve the quality and SEO techniques used on your website.
April 5th and May 23rd: Fixing De-Indexing Bugs
Even Google isn’t immune to bugs and mistakes. On both April 5th and May 23rd Google confirmed that there were bugs causing websites to be deindexed and thus no longer show up in search results. There were also problems with indexing new content that had been added to websites.
These bugs were fixed and most websites recovered soon after. If you struggled and your website did not recover, you will want to ask Google to re-crawl your website if you haven’t already.
June 3rd: Core Update
Another core Google algorithm update in 2019 was announced by Google on June 3rd. Again, there were limited details, but the websites affected by the March 12th update seemed to suffer the most. There were also some UK websites that reported significant drops.
At the same time, there were significant winners as well, including UK websites like The Mirror and The Sun. This Google search algorithm update was unique because it impacted news and retail sites along with lifestyle sites. There were significant changes in rankings in the first 24 hours and more as the week wore on.
There was also some evidence that this update reversed some of the negative impacts that the March update had on medical websites.
June 6th: Site Diversity Update
Google pre-announced an update that rolled out June 6th. It was aimed at improving the diversity of results on Page 1, and impacted websites that had three or more Page 1 results for the same search term.
Research after the fact showed that the update had a relatively small impact, although search engine results with three to five duplicate sites on Page 1 did improve in diversity.
It’s likely that there weren’t that many search results that had this problem, and this is why the impact was small.
July 12th: Maverick Update
Search engine watchers noticed a lot of fluctuations in search engine results pages (SERPs) on July 12th. Google did not confirm any update, as they often do not, and thus details about this change are limited.
This update was named “Maverick” by Brett Tabke of WebmasterWorld, who named it because it coincided with the release of the Top Gun trailer.
Some webmasters saw major drops while others saw no change. However, there was no clear pattern of specific industries or niches being impacted. Because Google did not comment, it’s hard to know exactly what impact was intended from this update.
September 24th: Core Update
Google announced another core update that rolled out September 24th. There were very few details provided and the update seemed to impact the same websites that were hit by the previous core updates.
The health and medical niche continued to be volatile, especially the alternative health niche. Google has been scrutinizing these in relation to reliability and authority and it can be difficult for them to maintain their rankings.
Even when these websites improve their website significantly, they can surge and drop like crazy in each core update.
October 22nd: BERT Update
Probably one of the biggest and best-explained updates came out in late October. Called the “BERT update”, it was focused on helping Google understand users’ search terms.
Many webmasters were alarmed because you can’t really optimize for BERT, but that’s not really bad news. All you need to do is continually create content that meets your users’ needs. When you do, BERT should do a better job of detecting it then previous Natural Language Processing (NLP) processes. This means there will be an overall positive impact from this Google algorithm in SEO.
BERT is a system that allows Google to build better models to process the context of words in a phrase. This is helpful for helping the search engine understand intent, so it can tell the difference between a searcher who is looking to do something, and a searcher who wants to do that thing for someone else.
The goal is to allow people to search Google using more natural terms instead of “keyword-ese.” What does that mean for website owners? It’s simple – write in natural language and don’t try to fit keywords in awkwardly just for the count.
How to Make SEO Work for You
With updates happening so many times a year, it can feel like it’s impossible to keep up. But that’s not true! You don’t have to monitor Google’s twitter account (although you can) – you have a business to run.
What you can do is keep your website up-to-date with the latest SEO strategies and techniques. Create quality content on a regular basis, be sure your website is mobile-responsive and well-organized, and target keywords relevant to your industry and location.
If that sounds like a lot, well, it is. A lot of small businesses need help from a professional SEO agency to keep up with Google’s latest algorithm and the other changes that happen online. We’d love to help. You can contact us today and get a complementary 30-minute consultation with our owner and SEO expert, John Vuong.
We want to see your small business succeed. Contact us today to see how we can make a difference in your search results.