At this time last year (in 2021), SEOs of the world had their work cut out for them. With Google’s Page Experience Update, the first of what would be three Core Updates, and the first of two Product Review Updates, simply staying on top of all that Google was rolling out was a full-time endeavor in itself. While Google is always (read: sometimes more than once each day) making updates to their search algorithm, 2021 saw an incredibly frequent amount of major updates.
As we find ourselves halfway through 2022, what has happened this year that website content managers should be aware about?
#1. Rounding Out Last Year’s Changes
Pushing Out Page Experience to Desktop
The job of Google Search is to provide users with the answers they are looking for in the format they need. The Page Experience Update draws on that purpose by measuring things that signal users having a great on-page experience as they click through from the SERPs to your content. These signals include things like:
- Core Web Vitals (read more here)
- Mobile-friendliness (site usability on a mobile device)
- HTTPS (secure browsing)
- Intrusive interstitials and dialogs (think pop-ups and the like)
While the initial rollout of the Page Experience update occurred last year, Google confirmed that the update would begin rolling out for desktop at the end of February of this year and finish at the end of March 2022.
What it means for you
Think through the page experience signals listed above as they apply to your website. Consult your web developer to ensure both the mobile and desktop versions of your site are measuring up. Do you currently rely on elements like pop-ups to capture site visitor emails or information? Consider trying a different approach, or weigh the pros and cons based on your Google Analytics reports.
Improving Upon Product Review Content
Based on user feedback, Google’s release of the Product Reviews update last year focused heavily on rewarding product review content that was thorough and evidenced actual product testing. In March of 2022, Google announced they were making improvements to that update and further clarified some questions about best practices for ranking well in this arena.
#2. May Core Update
So far, the May core update has been the only new major update this year. However, as any core update goes, many website owners are seeing some search engine ranking volatility and trying to figure out what to do.
What to Know About the May Core Update
What is the take on the recent Google algorithm core update? There is nothing that has come as a shock. Consistent with the last handful of years, this update seems to be making more progress towards refining search results with improvements concerning E-A-T and search intent.
E-A-T (which stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) is very likely the most-heard acronym among SEOs these days. The concept behind E-A-T has to do with the power of top search results. Google’s aim is to ensure that the pages that earn top spots in organic search results are the best of the best:
- Are the results trustworthy?
- Do they answer the question at hand?
- Is the source of the answer authoritative?
- Does the content demonstrate expertise in the topic?
As it pertains to the most recent update, certain industry verticals saw more fluctuating search rankings than others. According to Semrush, sites in real estate, books & literature, hobbies & leisure, travel, health, and pets & animals were the most impacted. However, compared to the previous two core updates, the net changes in rank have been less significant.
Help! My Rankings Were Negatively Affected.
Have your keyword rankings sharply dropped after the mid-May algo update? Despite the update being more of the same improvements from Google, some well-respected SEOs have noted changes in keyword intent.
For example, perhaps Google previously took the query ‘chiropractic services’ as a keyword with commercial intent; the search engine results for that keyword consisted mainly of listings for local chiropractors because Google assumed the searcher wanted to shop for a provider and compare services. However, after an intent switch, perhaps now the query ‘chiropractic services’ is considered informational intent. So instead of listings for local service providers, there may now be results from national medical research entities about chiropractic care.
While switching out intent is a reflection of Google’s efforts to show searchers what they want and expect, it can mean that some website owners lose out.
What Should You Do?
If your site has fallen victim to the most recent algorithm changes, there are some things you can do to steadily work your way back up the search engine results pages.
Remember to E-A-T
We said it before and we will keep saying it: E-A-T cannot be understated. Think: what areas do you have expertise in? How are your authority and that expertise affirmed not only on your website, but across the web? Consider taking steps like building links from external and authoritative sources, using schema to identify your content, and start writing content that provides unique and original insight into the field you carry expertise in.
Read Google’s Core Update Blog
Don’t try to do too much all at once! Improving your SEO is a long-game process anyways, and Google themselves published a blog giving advice to site owners on core updates. Ask yourself the questions outlined by Google in improving your content and adapting it to changes in search algorithms.
How is Your Site Performance?
Utilize tools like Google Search Console to monitor real performance data on your website. Keeping track of key metrics like Core Web Vitals, performance reports, and mobile usability (all tools available in Search Console), will help you to identify any issues with how Google is indexing your site content, how your technical site performance may be affecting you, and more.
Analyze Your New Competition
While requiring some detective work, Googling the keywords you used to rank well for and skimming through what the new top results contain can help you to gain insight into the type of content Google is now looking for pertaining to that query/search term.
Adapting to Google Search Changes
Does this all sound too overwhelming to tackle? Are you unsure where to start? You’re in good company with many other website owners. The Webspec Digital Marketing team works with clients of all industries to recover lost rankings, prioritize action items to improve your SEO, and much more. We would love to hear from you and help you navigate where to spend your time and energy.