Another Google algorithm update?

Those of us who work in search marketing are no stranger to the inevitable Google algorithm update. Google maintains it makes updates almost daily. Some days even see multiple updates. Because of this, it is not often that Google confirms an individual update. Starting around April 16th, several blogs were starting to raise questions as to whether a bigger algorithm update was in the works. Multiple sources were noting significant rank changes on many sites. By the end of the week, Barry Schwartz tweeted at Google asking for a confirmation of what several sources were seeing. Danny Sullivan replied back to Barry Schwartz confirming the Algorithm update. He referenced a tweet from the Google SearchLiaison Twitter account confirming the change started on Monday, April 16th.

Update: Changes started on April 16 and appear to be continuing now for over a week. See more observations on the ongoing changes here.

What has changed?

Google is confirming that this is a “broad core” algorithm update that happens “routinely several times per year.” Initial speculation about the nature of this update focused on changes affecting low quality pages. However, it was later clarified that this update revolved more around content relevance than quality. Google maintains that most of its algorithm updates relate to content relevance. This latest change appears to be another case of a content relevance update. Some sites are reporting major shifts in rankings. Others are noting hardly any change at all.

How to respond?

After any confirmed Google algorithm update, it is a good idea to assess the impact. If you are happy with your current SERP rankings and haven’t seen much shift over the past week, keep doing what you’re doing with your content. This is a sign that you are creating quality content that is relevant to your audience. If you have noticed a shift or are not happy with your current rankings, some adjustments may need to be made.

A drop in rankings is not an indication of the quality of your content, or the lack thereof. Instead, it is likely a sign that the content you are producing needs to be more relevant to the audience searching for it. Google insists that a drop in rankings does not signal that your site is performing “less well.” Instead, changes are now rewarding sites that were previously under-rewarded. Let’s take a look at a few strategies to improve the relevancy of content on a site.

Understand your audience

This may sound overly intuitive. However, if your site is experiencing a drop in rankings, it’s possible your site is missing your target audience. As digital marketing professionals, we understand nothing is static. It’s possible your buyer or consumer personas have changed over time. A drop in rankings may signal that it is a good time to revisit your buyer or consumer personas. You’ll want to ensure these are based on market research about your existing customers. Some examples of information your personas should consider include backgrounds, interests, demographics, and challenges.

Provide answers to questions relevant to your audience

Once you’ve revisited your customer personas, one of the easiest ways to create content Google sees as relevant to your audience is to answer questions your audience has. Your customer personas should give you a big head start with this. Some examples of possible topics include product or service offerings, topical news events, or how-to guides. Speaking with your business development, account management, or customer service teams can also help identify questions your audience may have. Creating content that answers questions for your audience will ensure your content is relevant.

A picture is worth a thousand words

Words are great. However, it’s a good idea to accompany words with visuals when creating content. Including visuals such as screenshots, infographics, slideshares and video will provide a more engaging experience for your audience. If you haven’t already done so, it may be a good time to work different mediums into your content development processes.

Be trendy

Staying on top of industry trends is an essential part of creating relevant content. Doing so will keep your content interesting and fresh and your audience will become more engaged. For example, if you are a clothes retailer, creating content about seasonal fashion trends will ensure your content is relevant to your audience and fresh. It would also be a great place to work in some visuals! Maybe you are a B2B service provider. Reflecting on recent industry developments and what your company is doing to respond will help you produce relevant content.

Be a conversation starter

Another sure-fire way to develop relevant content is to start conversations with your audience. You can start conversations in a number of different channels. Opening up comment sections, soliciting your audience for questions, or highlighting frequently asked questions are some examples of ways to start conversations. It may also open up new channels you aren’t currently utilizing. For example, you could create a regular podcast addressing questions from your audience. Or maybe a series of how-to videos would be very engaging for your audience. There is no right answer here, but finding a way to start conversations with your audience will ensure you are creating relevant content.

Continue to evolve

Even if the most recent Google algorithm update hasn’t caused a noticeable shift in SERP rankings, you can still benefit from the above suggestions. Marketing is an ever-evolving field. Periodically taking time to revisit your strategy will help ensure you continue to evolve. Doing so will help you maintain an edge over your competitors. It will also help keep lines of communication open with your audience. Your content will stay relevant and your rankings will respond accordingly.

Not sure where to start?

If you have experienced a drop in rankings after the latest Google algorithm update and are still unsure where to start, don’t panic. At DemandSphere, we have harnessed many years of search and content marketing experience to develop a set of tools and processes that provide you actionable insights and help you develop relevant content. We’ve worked with a variety of ecommerce, B2B, B2C, and agency clients of various sizes around the world to provide solutions that help our clients get found online. Contact us today to discuss your needs and prepare for future updates!

Take a look at our review of all the major 2017 Google algorithm updates