Our Initial Findings & Recommendations about Google’s 2021 Core Update Rollout
A Google Core Update dropped this month. This is the same update that we’ve been calling the Page Experience Update for quite some time now.
The rollout for the Core Update has been divided into 2 phases. As of mid-June the first half has been implemented , and it looks like phase 2 is expected to go live in July.
But how have websites performed with the Core Update rollout in progress? As for us, we’ve experienced a slight peak in traffic some days after the update went live.
The update rolled out on June 3. According to Neil Patel, they noticed some movement around June 6. Overall, they had a 9% drop in traffic on their website.
For us, we saw a significant spike in traffic on the 7th of June.
While it was a significant spike, the trend dropped and normalized the days after. Our rankings for some major keywords picked up, and a small fraction of them dropped.
So far, it seems that we’re weathering the Core Update pretty well.
But how about you? What should you do in terms of SEO?
Stick to the Basics
With every core update, Google isn’t really implementing any radical new metrics to change the SEO game. If anything, Google’s just refining their algorithm.
Google wants to prioritise pages that prioritise user experience. For SEO specialists, that means sticking to the basics of honest SEO.
Build links & relationships to reputable sites; create fresh content; don’t spam keywords; optimise page speeds; make your pages mobile responsive—the basics!
Google didn’t change their criteria. Even their guide on responding to core updates hasn’t been updated since 2019. They’re not out to get earnest digital marketers; they’re cracking down on naughty ones.
Slowly Reformat Outdated Content
To cite Neil Patel’s observation, the new update is snuffing out fluff.
While word count plays a role as a ranking signal, it isn’t as important as context & content necessitation. If you still have articles in your bag that were written to hit a word count, you might want to review and slowly revise them.
The update seems to be prioritizing pages that can address user queries the fastest.
This means that content that has too much unnecessary information (like recipes with narratives that go on for too long) might get affected.
Our prediction is that we will see more pages that answer queries in the first sentence to rise up in ranks.
E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. It’s a 3 pronged criterion to rank content. It’s a set of ranking signals used for content assessment.
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Who does these assessments?
You’d be surprised to know that Google employs the aid of Raters. Raters are real people that Google trusts to unbiasedly assess random content on the internet.
Their ratings are then fed to the algorithm to help it “learn” what good content looks like.
Raters use E-A-T to rank content. It basically tries to determine how expertly written a piece of content is based on how sound their discussions are.
As Marie Haynes illustrates, who would you rather take advice from on taxation, a journalist or a tax accountant? Raters read through articles to determine which ones are written by whom.
It can be assumed that Raters may be experts in certain fields of knowledge like finance, medicine, engineering, and (dare we say) digital marketing.
Get Page Speed Insight
If you’re unsure of how to start responding to the core update, how about getting your page inspected by Google?
The core update is believed to prioritise page experience. That’s why you now have a Core Web Vitals metrics on your Experience tab on Search Console.
To get a quick list of things you need to optimise for your website, follow this link to get Page Speed Insights from Google.
Anticipate & Observe
So what we’re we doing before the update dropped?
We were making blogs, publishing regularly on social media, creating backlinks—regular day-to-day content marketing. We did nothing out of the ordinary!
While every update is big news, it should not be a point of panic if you’re optimising the way Google intended. We shouldn’t be scrambling to make drastic changes to our websites and campaigns if we’re doing honest and consistent SEO.
Algorithms “learn” through patterns. To play it safe, try to stay on track with your SEO campaign, gather the data in a month after the update, and see where it affected you.
This will help you recognise patterns in your campaign and determine which ones work and which ones need some work.
It seems we can expect minimal effects until the Core Update rolls out in its entirety by July.
If this should worry anyone, it would be those that have delved into dodgy SEO campaigning, or have neglected their content marketing for far too long.