September 30, 2022 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
Google updates can be stressful for marketers, content creators, and SEOs alike. Just when you think you’ve gotten a system down and you’re seeing excellent results, Google throws a wrench in your plans. But you don’t have to wait for Google to upend your plans. You can prepare for the search engine’s next update right now. Today, we’re discussing 8 ways to prepare for the next Google update to keep your site and content from taking hits before they even arrive:
Annoying as it is, you can’t always tell when Google updates its algorithm. SEOs with a keen eye on their statistics may predict when an update occurs after it happens. But unless Google announces or confirms an update, you may never know for sure. You may wonder what that means as far as preparing for the next update if you don’t it’s coming.
One thing we do know for sure is Google releases small algorithm updates every day. Most of these updates are insignificant and cause small disruptions to ranking and traffic. These changes aren’t worth prepping for because they won’t hinder your organic traffic or content marketing efforts drastically.
The updates you really need to focus on or worry about are those that Google confirms. Especially the named updates it announces before a rollout. These updates happen less frequently, about once a month or a few times per year. The lower frequency makes it easier for you to meet with your team and put together a strategy to make sure your content doesn’t take a hit or penalty.
Use these steps to prepare for the next significant Google update that could affect your traffic and rankings:
When Google confirms or announces a new update, the company often gives basic details about what the update targets, fixes, or changes. The information might not go into great detail, but it’s still worth reading up on any materials the company, and SEO experts, share about the upcoming or recently confirmed update.
Start by looking at what Google has to say. You can typically find information about new or upcoming updates on its Search Central Twitter account or the Search Central Blog. If Google doesn’t provide enough information, you can turn to SEO experts on Twitter, blogs, and other content marketing resources to learn more about their expectations and experiences with recent updates. At CopyPress, we keep you covered with a range of resources, including:
The more you research, the more you’ll learn what to expect from new updates. You can also identify areas where your current content may not live up to the new standards.
For updates that Google doesn’t announce in advance, you may not know they’ve happened until you see a change in your traffic or search engine results page (SERP) rankings. That’s why it’s important to monitor your analytics constantly to look for significant increases and decreases in engagement and traffic.
Big jumps in traffic may show an algorithm update that affected your content for the better. You may not have to do any work to prepare for the update because you’re already reaping the benefits. In this situation, it’s still a good idea to understand what caused the increase, so you can use the same optimization techniques on other pages or sites that didn’t see the same result. Tools like Google Search Console and Google Analytics help you track these kinds of changes and prepare for what to do next.
It sounds simple, but the best way to prepare for any Google update is to create the best content possible for your brand and within your industry. One of Google’s main purposes is to “give the people what they want.” That means providing the best resources and information on any topic. Doing this improves the user experience on the search engine.
Google releases so many updates because it’s always trying to make sure it’s providing the best user experience possible to every searcher, no matter what they’re looking for. So if you’re always creating top-quality content on any topic, you have the best chance of avoiding a hit from a Google update.
Your old content still needs love, too. SEO best practices change so fast that pieces that were once the pinnacle may become outdated quickly. And these pieces that fade over time might bring down your rankings and traffic if the latest Google updates issue penalties on a domain-wide basis. We saw this situation happen with the Helpful Content update.
If you add regular maintenance and optimization of old pieces to your content production workflow, you won’t have to worry about getting penalized for outdated old content. When doing your optimizations, look for red flags like:
These are just a few of the key areas to address to keep all your pieces current and valuable to your audience so that you don’t have to worry about what happens to them when a new update comes along.
We already said one of Google’s top goals is to provide exactly what a searcher wants to see on the first page of search results. This system works well thanks to a 2015 algorithm update called RankBrain. That update accounted for more than just the words searchers typed to get their information. It also focused on the context and the “why” behind those searches.
Since then, targeting search intent with every piece of content you share is critical to making sure it shows up in the right results. Whether you’re creating new pieces or optimizing old ones, it’s important to know if the information helps the audience in one of the following areas:
When you know what you want the searcher to get out of each piece, it’s easier to pick a relevant angle and topic that meets their needs.
Besides providing the right information for any query, Google also focuses on creating and sharing the best possible user experience online. That means recommending sites that are easy to navigate and use. If you have complicated site navigation or information is hard to find, people won’t stay on your page for long. When people click a link and click away fast, that increases a metric known as bounce rate.
The higher your bounce rate, the more that metric signals to Google that your site doesn’t provide what the audience needs. That pushes it further down in SERPs. When creating new pieces or reorganizing old ones, make sure you’re always thinking like your audience. Does the placement or linking of your content make sense? Is it relevant to the other content around it? Is it in a place your audience can find? If not, you’re likely not prepared for the next Google update. Especially if that one focuses on improving user experience.
Sometimes, your site and content aren’t the problems at all with preparing for a new Google update. Instead, having too many spammy backlinks could hurt your chances of keeping or getting better positioning on Google with each fresh change. Gone are the days when the only thing that mattered about backlinks was how many you could snag. Today, not every backlink is equal. If you have too many from spammy sites, that could bring down your domain authority and hurt your rankings.
You might wonder how you can stop spammy sites from linking to your content. It’s not like you can put a banner on your site that says “spammy linkers keep out.” The better way to handle spammy backlinks is to monitor your backlink profile regularly. If you find some that hurt your site instead of help, you can disavow those links through Google. This disavow process essentially tells Google not to associate your site with those links.
One of the worst SEO mistakes you can make these days is to create all your content with search engines as the primary target. While, yes, there are quite a few SEO strategies that you have to follow to make sure your content shows up on Google, you’re not making content for search engines. You’re making it for people. Don’t get so caught up in trying to “beat” the current algorithm or try to anticipate how to outsmart the next.
This type of black hat SEO where you try to exploit the algorithm to hijack good placement doesn’t last for a long time. Google is usually one step ahead, and the next update will undo any success you made with these little tricks. Instead of playing against the bots and crawlers, design all your content for humans instead. When you focus on writing helpful content and providing the best possible user experience, you’ll be better prepared for every update. This strategy lets your optimizations align with Google’s goals, keeping them timeless throughout many changes.
Related: How To Humanize SEO for Your Brand
The easiest way to stay prepared for any SEO change is to always know how your content, and your competitors’ content, perform in SERPs. CopyPress‘ content analysis tool helps you monitor all these things. The report shows how your content compares to three of your top rivals. Look at metrics and statistics like backlink profiles, keyword coverage, and SERP ranking.
The more you know about your own content and content throughout your industry, the better prepared you’ll be for any update Google throws your way. To get your free content analysis report, share your website URL with us below, and start preparing for the next major update.
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