Google updates its algorithm multiple times a day using machine learning and AI. Most updates are subtle and without much notice or chatter. Something was different about their update that took place in the middle of March.
Many SEO websites like Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal, Moz, SEO Roundtable, and more all were saying the same thing. A significant algorithm update took place and was shaking the results for many websites. One of my clients saw their target keyword fall from position 1 to position 5 in Google. The drop-in clicks were devastating, but I was able to fix the issue. Here is the story.
Here are a few links to the Google Update if you are unfamiliar with the story.
Monitor the Chatter
As a NY SEO Expert, I spend each morning reviewing the health of my client’s websites. My analysis consists of keyword rank checks from SEMRush, Google Search Console health reports, and third-party reviews from MozCast. In the middle of March, one of my clients saw their target keyword drop from position 1 to position 5 in Google.
MozCast and SEO Roundtable were on top of this change by chronicling a significant Google update. Sensing the drop and the severity of the issue, I let my client know that there was a drop in expected click traffic while I investigate the effect. A core algorithm update like this in March lasts for weeks, so I knew there would be no immediate fix.
Run Technical Fixes
Technical audits are the first part of my five-step SEO process. No site is 100% regarding a perfect technical score, so you can always make technological improvements. Using SEMRush, I saw a few incorrect links pointing to the wrong page on my client’s website. Directing the links to the appropriate page would help pass more SEO link authority to the target page, so that would be significant to fix. Fixing this issue won’t make the difference in achieving a top rank position in Google, but it set the foundation for future changes.
First Round of Content Changes
I use two tools to help with Content SEO. The first content SEO tool I use is SEMRush while the second is ClearScope. SEMRush will give me a quick view on semantic words that my client is not using that rivals have on their site. I sent these recommendations to my client who made the changes shortly afterward. The keyword rank did not immediately improve, so I had to take further and more drastic changes to their content copy.
Second Round of Content Changes
ClearScope for content SEO insanely powerful, but very expensive which is why many SEO’s don’t use the tool. This tool costs $300 a month to retain for my clients, but the value it brings to my clients is significant. To use the tool effectively, I spent days analyzing four competitors in Google using this tool to see what they all had in common. I ran multiple reports for my client with their top keywords to make many changes at once to improve many keywords.
With the report done, I sent my analysis over to my client. The main takeaway from my research was that questions and answers would be critical to improve their rank performance on their page. After an initial push back from my client on some of the words, we implemented most of the phrasing on the webpage.
Fetch all Changes within Google and Bing
After each update I made with my client, I fetch the results in Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. I encourage everyone to use both tools to tell both search bots to crawl your target page after making changes. Alerting both engines to crawl your content will result in faster rank changes in Google and Bing.
Wait and Review
After making the technical updates and two rounds of content changes, I was satisfied with the strategy. I knew it was a matter of time for Google to bring my client back to position 1 in Google. Dealing with a Google update, I was unsure when this update might take place though. After about a week or so after the second content update, my client went back to position 1 in Google.
Google updates are tricky because you are never what is going on. I’m not an expert when it comes to Google updates, but I look for patterns with my research. The technical fix may or may not have had any impact on the results, but it would help their SEO eventually. Spotting the trend of words not on my client’s webpage along with questions and answers was the golden opportunity my client would need to improve their rank position.