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What you need to know about Google Algorithm Updates

If you care about SEO and have followed up on what Google is doing, you may have noticed that a core Google algorithm update was released this week.

Usually when a core update is issued, people start to panic. Anyone else remember Mobilegedon? That was the giant rush for everyone to make sure their site was responsive prior to that update. And every time there’s a core update, people are falling over themselves to figure out what the change is going to be or was so they can make sure they are following the rules.

Sometimes, like when Google issued the mobile-first update or the speed update, they let us know in advance so we can start working on changes in a timely manner. I prefer this, it lets me handle whatever issues need addressed before hand and avoid the panic. Of course, this doesn’t stop other people from waiting until the last minute…

Anyway, here are a few things I thought I’d share with you about Google’s Algorithm updates.

google algorithm updates

Google issues small algorithm updates daily

You may only hear about it once in a while and when there’s a definitive “you must do this!” message, but the truth is, Google is always changing their algorithm. Their goal has always been to provide searchers with the most relevant searches for their query, and with so many websites online and so many options, that is going to change a lot.

Google is making changes all the time, and most of the time, you won’t even notice. And almost all of the time, they aren’t going to tell you what changes were made.

Core updates are bigger and happen less frequently

Core updates happen a few times a year. Sometimes Google tells us that they are happening, like in the tweet you see above. So far this year, we’ve seen core updates in March, June, and now September.

And sometimes they even give us a lot of notice, like with the mobile-first indexing. More often than not, they don’t tell us what the update will do and we’re left puzzling out the pieces afterward, which we can tell by the changes in website rank.

From what we’ve seen online, June’s update looks to have involved trust – giving higher precedence to websites with a higher trust factor. This is the T in E-A-T.

In June, right after the core update, they also released a “diversity update” which sought to prevent one website from holding multiple spots for one search. This was a smaller update, but is often lumped in with the June core update.

At this time, we don’t yet know what’s coming in this September update.

What can you do?

The obvious next question is, what can you do to keep your site’s rank from getting hit with an update? Well, I have some tips.

Track algorithm updates.

You can follow websites like Moz and Search Engine Land. Follow Google Search Liason on Twitter. You can even sign up for email alerts. Sticking your head in the sand won’t help you when it comes to search engine ranks.

Work on your site. Continually.

Websites are not carved in stone. You can change them, a lot. And you should! If you’re reading this, you probably know that I blog a lot. And that’s important. One of Google’s big messages (just last month) was that they are constantly looking for better content, so if your content is thin, old, or stale, you may start losing your spot to sites that are producing new, quality content. Their main message was, “Hey, we like your stuff. But new stuff comes out all the time, and it could be better. So we’re going to consider that too.

  • Add new content. Adding quality content on a regular basis is one of the best things you can do for your site.
  • Evaluate and update your content. Guess what, your content can get stale. If you considered the messaging on your website lately, maybe you should. Your content should be relevant and resonate with your reader.
  • Monitor your site’s health. Is it fast? Is it mobile-friendly? Are there errors? Do you have broken links? Make sure your site is healthy. It matters.
  • Manage your site’s redirects. If you delete pages, make sure those get redirected to other pages. Try to avoid 404 errors on your site.
  • Evaluate your meta data. Does your title and description make people want to click through?
  • Look at your analytics – who is coming to your site, what are they looking at, when are they leaving? Use these clues to improve your site’s content.

Look for link opportunities

Links matter. And the harder a link is to get, the more worthwhile it is to have. Just getting linked to from a hundred small-time bloggers probably won’t make much difference. Getting a link from a high-traffic, high-authority blog will make a much bigger difference.

So how do you get links? It’s complicated. I get emails every day from strangers asking me to link to them, share their info graphic, or wanting to guest post on my site.

A few ideas for getting links:

  • Can you go on an industry podcast? Look into podcasts for your industry and see if you can be a guest. Usually you’ll get a link in the show notes for that episode.
  • Can you write a guest article for an industry website or blog? However, do it right. Don’t send an unsolicited email saying, “Can I contribute a guest post?” Think up a concept and a topic. What value can you bring to their website? Put as much effort into your pitch as you put into the article.
  • Sign up for directories. These are easy pickings. Do you have a Google My Business page? Are you in Bing Local? Are there industry directories you can join, like Justia for lawyers? What about industry affiliations? Examples include the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance for folks in the pool industry, and WALA for labradoodle breeders. Many of these organizations have fees to be included, but those fees may be worthwhile in order to get the backlinks.
  • Look for opportunities to share your links on social media. Do you ever do Twitter searches? You can literally look for tweets related to your industry and provide links to your content directly to people on Twitter. Not only can this drive traffic to your site, it provides opportunities for others to share your content and if more people see your content, then it’s likely more people will link to your content.

In summary, you can’t just “do SEO” and be done. SEO is an ongoing process that involves continual work, improvement, and evaluation. There’s no such thing as set it and forget it. It’s always changing.

Evaluating and updating your site’s content regularly is one of the best thing you can do. Don’t underestimate the power of words.

Amy Masson

Amy is the co-owner, developer, and website strategist for Sumy Designs. She's been making websites with WordPress since 2006 and is passionate about making sure websites are as functional as they are beautiful.

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