June 3 this year saw Google pre-announce the launch of a broad core algorithm update, which was released the following day. The decision to pre-announce the update was likely to save SEO pros from getting freaked out, but freak out they did, with cryptocurrency news site CCN reporting that their organic visibility had decreased by a massive 90% and that they were having to shut down as a result.
Whilst it later emerged that CCN’s organic traffic drop wasn’t due to a random act of Google, the site wasn’t without its issues. After all, any business whose site is that reliant on organic traffic is playing a dangerous game. So, what can SEO pros do in order to become more resistant to algorithm updates?
Google is Monopolizing Web Delivery:
There’s no denying that Google does have what many believe to be an unhealthy monopoly when it comes to controlling the delivery of the web, and this is something that’s only set to grow. For example, publishers have been pretty much ‘forced’ to adopt AMP in order to have any kind of organic visibility, which is a Google framework. And, Google scrapes and publishes content from other websites in search results, which takes away clicks in the process. An increasing proportion of informational queries are now answered in search engine result pages, and Google also rewrites page titles and meta-descriptions in order to better match user intent. Google is also able to override user-specific canonical tags, indexing another version of the page. And finally, local job postings, businesses, hotels and even flights are all handled by Google products.
Whilst you were probably aware of all or most of this, it’s worth taking a step back to think about exactly how much control Google has over how web content is delivered. And one of the main problems is that Google doesn’t have any real competition when it comes to search, which doesn’t seem set to change in the foreseeable future. So, how can you minimize the impact of algorithm updates?
#1. Create Great Content:
This is advice that’s usually given by Google following a core algorithm update, and although it is a tip that’s thrown around quite flippantly on the internet today, it’s one that shouldn’t be overlooked. If you haven’t already, it’s worth revisiting your content and trying to improve it.
As important as it is to keep on top of Google’s algorithm updates and the impact that they have, it’s also crucial to avoid becoming overly fixated on the update rather than focusing on executing a long-term strategy. In the case of updates such as this one, it’s important to be ready for fluctuations in organic traffic and become aware of common trends driven by the update. Any insights gained should be factored into a long-term search strategy, instead of taking a number of short-term actions in order to claw back lost rankings.
#2. Be Selective About Who You Work With:
A need to be more selective about the websites and businesses that we work with and for is also important in terms of preparing your strategies to be more update-resistant. Whatever kind of new opportunities you are seeking, it’s important to ask a number of questions, such as:
- How reliant is the business and website on one revenue stream, and how volatile is this revenue source?
- Does the business have a feasible long-term vision, and are their websites likely to continue providing value in the foreseeable future?
- How flexible and open is the business when it comes to taking on board and implementing new ideas, acknowledging and fixing mistakes and missteps, in addition to implementing a strategy that shapes to a rapidly evolving and changing environment?
#3. Build a Brand and Nurture Returning Visitors:
The success that is overwhelmingly reliant on visitors coming from organic search is most likely to be seen on sites that are the most heavily affected by Google’s algorithm updates. Instead, it’s crucial to build a memorable brand that rewards returning visitors.
Investing time and resources into nurturing returning visitors to your site will not only help your business become more resistant to Google’s algorithm updates, but also improve your reputation, increase word-of-mouth marketing, and provide you with traffic that’s not relying solely on your Google ranking.
#4. Take a Broader Perspective:
The future of SEO is only set to become even further entrenched with a variety of other disciplines. And today more than ever, it is becoming increasingly important for SEO pros to collaborate with and fully understand the various other marketing and business functions that it works closely with.
For example, SEO tends to intersect with paid search, user experience, PR, CRO, development, and a whole range of broader business impacts. As a result, SEO teams should take a wider view on their place in an organization and build strong working relationships with other teams, collaborating with them in order to build healthier business foundations and reduce dependence on organic traffic. For example, there are several situations where despite a drop in organic traffic, a better user experience could be provided – such as implementing FAQ schema.
SEO pros should take a broader view of success and adjust KPIs accordingly in order to work better alongside other business functions, to build more successful websites and digital businesses that are working together towards a common goal.
Whilst there are several further strategies and steps that websites and businesses can implement in order to become more algorithm-resistant and less reliant on organic traffic, these are some of the most effective so far. It’s important that SEO pros are ready to ensure that Google is held accountable in as many ways as possible, however limited, but more important to direct efforts towards creating digital brands that have long-term planning at the forefront of the mind.
Creating a business that isn’t desperately reliant on Google can be tricky and a long journey, but it certainly can be done.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this – get in touch in the comments.