The mechanisms behind Google algorithms are generally shrouded in mystery. But last week, we learned something important regarding core updates and moved one step closer to understanding how these updates impact our rankings.
According to Google’s John Mueller, technical problems on your website, such as broken links or 404 redirects, have little effect on your rankings after a core update. He added that ranking loss is mostly due to site quality issues and advised focusing on “offering the best content you can.”
His recommendation was in response to a question posed during the latest Google Search Central SEO Office Hours hangout. A person wrote that their rankings and traffic plummeted significantly after a site redesign prior to a Google core algorithm update and still haven’t recovered six months after. They asked, “Do we wait for another core update for Google to assess our site quality again, or does this happen when the website is re-crawled?”
In his response, Mueller advised getting familiarized with core algorithm updates to have a more accurate diagnosis of the ranking drop. He then affirmed that when a site drops on the search engine results page (SERPs) after a core update, it’s generally a result of long-term issues primarily associated with content, according to Google’s core update explainer. So if you have broken links and 404 errors on a page, that’s not a reason for Google’s quality algorithms to “jump in.”
In this explainer, broad core updates are defined as Google’s way to ensure it’s “presenting relevant and authoritative content to searchers.” They are named “broad” because they do not target specific pages or sites. Instead, the changes aim to fine-tune how Google’s systems evaluable content overall from a broader, more holistic perspective. Once a core update is rolled out, it will evaluate the current state of the web at large – see if there are newer, better pages that should be pushed up the SERPs, indirectly causing other pages to drop from their current positions. The keyword is “indirectly” because core updates do not actively punish or demote low-performing pages; instead, they reward those that continuously follow Google content guidelines.
You can think of these updates as regular “check-ins” by Google to recalibrate the SERPs and ensure it’s serving the most relevant results to searchers.
So how do you make sure you’re positively affected by these updates? “We suggest offering the best content you can,” the explainer states. “That’s what our algorithms seek to reward.” Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness (E-A-T): These are the three content elements largely at play and the three markers Google has been pushing hard to publishers.
If you’re worried about your page quality in anticipation of the next broad core update, the E-A-T principle should guide your content writing strategy and give you an idea of how you stack up against competitor pages. To know about E-A-T in detail and Google’s content guidelines in general as it relates to broad core updates, check out its full explainer, “What site owners should know about Google’s core updates.“
Report: Google Blocked 3.4 Billion Ads in 2021: Google’s latest annual Ads Safety Report showed that the company took down 3.4 billion ads and suspended 5.6 million accounts in 2021. The most significant chunk of “bad” ads are those that abused the ad network (652.1 million), contained adult content (286.8 million) and broke trademark laws (136.9 million), all of which violated Google’s Advertising Policies. The company also blocked ads spreading misinformation about COVID-19 and making harmful health claims related to testing and vaccines. Overall, these ad policy violators negatively affect everyone across the board, including searchers, advertisers and publishers. To combat bad actors, Google is enforcing advertiser verification and a three-strikes policy.
Moz Reinstated to Google Search Index After Getting Removed Following a DMCA Request: On May 4, the SEO community spotted that Moz, a household name in the SEO software industry, had been removed from Google’s Search index after a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown request. The request cited that Moz’s home page (and 150+ other domains) distributed “modified, cracked and unauthorized versions” of the Dr. Driving app. The situation was deemed crazy, to say the least, and in Barry Schwartz’s words, “This shouldn’t happen, but it did – and that is scary.” Meanwhile, SEO specialist Cyrus Shepard tweeted, “Another DMCA literally lets anybody abuse the system, and it breaks Google.” Google was immediately made aware of the situation, and Moz returned to the search results 12 hours after the issue was first reported. Considering that Moz is a large, respected brand, the brief yet unfortunate takedown is a testament to some lapses in DMCA’s system, which claimed to be a straightforward way for copyright owners to protect their content. It’s unclear why errors like this slip through the cracks, but it appears DMCA has failed the honest, authoritative brands it intends to protect. Dubbed as a “nightmare for most SEOs and site owners” by Schwartz, being removed from the results for your branded term is “inexcusable” and “should not happen.” If you have been wrongfully accused of copyright or trademark infringement, notify Google immediately.
Users Can Limit Google Ads About Dating and Weight Loss: If you’re tired of seeing ads about dating apps and Weight Watchers, good news: Google has expanded its list of sensitive ad categories to include Dating and Weight Loss, now joining Alcohol, Gambling and Pregnancy and Parenting. This means you can log in to your Ads Settings and opt to see fewer ads promoting related products for a better, safer search experience. For example, if you limit ads for Weight Loss, you would see fewer ads for gyms, diets and weight loss pills. But if you’re an advertiser specializing in these categories, there’s no need to fret. You are still allowed to serve ads to certain users, and even better, it gives you a way to reach a more targeted and receptive audience.
Poll: 58 Percent of Marketers Aren’t Worried About Elon Musk’s Twitter Ownership: As Search Engine Land’s Danny Goodwin put it, “It’s the end of Twitter as we know it. And a majority of marketers feel fine.” This cannot be a more perfect way to describe the current Twitter situation. In case you missed it, Elon Musk recently bought Twitter for $44 billion and tweeted that he has big changes in mind, including longer tweets, a stronger defense against spambots and the addition of the long-awaited edit button. And apparently, many marketers are not worried about these changes. In an SEL poll, 58.5 percent of respondents claimed they weren’t “concerned” and were optimistic about the future. One comment noted that the commitment to combating bots would greatly benefit advertisers, saying, “removing bots and spams will make it a place that more people want to spend their time. This is great news.”
Will Google Prioritize Short Videos Over Web Stories?: The SEO community has good reason to believe that Google is showing more short videos than web stories in mobile search. This trend was first spotted by SEO consultants Glenn Gabe and Brodie Clark, who have been following web stories for a while now. Short videos have been around since November 2020, but it’s not until now it’s become clear that they might replace web stories in the long term. Gabe tweeted, “This is the first time I’ve seen it in that format (almost like it will overtake the Visual Stories SERP feature at some point).” Schwartz sees this as a good thing. He wrote, “Web stories are a bit of a pain to create,” so should marketers stop producing them and redirect their focus to Short Videos? “Only time can tell,” Schwartz added.
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