Do you get the feeling of motion sickness at the headline "New Google Algorithm Change?" Maybe you feel like you are in the side car of a motorcycle, just along for the ride with no control of your search standings? I felt so strongly about this, I created a meme for it. I really do not have that much time on my hands.
Side Street in Maadi, Cairo, Egypt, September 2022. Red labels are for dramatic effect.
We used to feel this way, but now have a strategy for dealing with the uncertainty that comes with algorithm changes that seems to work for our Accelebrate website.
This article takes you through some of the tools and strategies we have used for finding and fixing possible Search Engine Optimization (SEO) issues to stay ahead of these Google shakeups. There is no one thing you can do, but several consistent practices that can make the difference. This article also discusses what to do if your site's traffic declines significantly after a Google algorithm update. Read on for some SEO tactics that have worked for us so far.
Here are some of our favorite free tools that we regularly use to gather data and improve our site's SEO:
SEMRush, a paid tool, has been a vital part of our SEO insights. SEMRush allows you to check the visibility of tracked keywords to see how you rank for any given keyword compared to your competitors. You can also perform advanced keyword research here to update your content with relevant keywords. And any dated references can get the old 23 skidoo.
SEMRush's SEO Dashboard also alerts you if there are any tagging errors on your site that need to be fixed (404 errors, duplicate meta info, missing meta info, broken images, etc.) and gives sites an overall health score based on those signals. I have it set to receive an email each week to alert me about any issues so I can fix them immediately.
SEMRush's SEO Dashboard to find and fix issues.
In addition, with Backlink Audit, you can see if any links pointing to your site are toxic and then disavow them using the Google Disavow tool. If you have never used this free tool, please read the guidelines before submitting a disavow list to Google.
This is a marathon, not a sprint. Make small updates every day or a few times a week. It is also a good idea to spread out any larger projects; if you make big changes to several elements on your site at the same time, it can be hard to know which changes were the most effective.
Weeding out old, obsolete content can also be helpful. We got rid of some older technologies that we had not taught in six or more years, pruned some outdated articles, etc., and saw an increase in our overall search visibility right away. But how do you know which pages in your site are duds? Enter, Google Analytics. Using this tool, we found that we had some non-essential pages with very low traffic, zero conversions, and a 100% bounce rate over the last few years. We took those pages down.
To find the bounce rate for each page in your site in Google Analytics, go to Acquisition > Channels. Then click on Organic Search in the table and choose Landing Page for the primary dimension. If you click on Bounce Rate in the top of the table, the pages in your site will be ranked by bounce rate, highest to lowest over any period time you like. If you have pages that have a 100% bounce rate, check the traffic and if you really need to have that page on the site.
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will be replacing Google Analytics Universal, and the current version will no longer be available after July 2023. There are a lot of changes and GA4 training may be necessary for your team. If you missed Accelebrate's free, live GA4 webinar, you can still view the recording.
We have stayed on top of modern, popular technologies and trends and are constantly adding new content to our site. Each new page we create contains relevant keywords that have been researched with Google Trends and SEMRush, well-written copy (we often use Grammarly for proof reading), and relevant, useful content written by instructors and/or experts. In addition, we make sure we are using tagging best practices such as:
Page experience is not concerned with content; it is only measuring the experience of a user interacting with a web page. Does the page take a long time to load? Are the page elements shifting around as it is loading? These experience signals are important but often overlooked. Once we fixed our Page Experience issues, our search engine visibility went up.
Ok fine, you don't want to read the entire guide from Google. Here's a quick overview on what makes up Google's Page Experience:
I know. Everyone says this, but how do you do it? This latest Google Algorithm change, The Helpful Content Update, addresses this very issue. This latest change aims to de-rank sites that create content for SEO purposes rather than provide users with valuable information. Sites that use AI-generated content have suffered from this update. Some takeaways from what Google is looking for in a website's content:
First, don't panic. Unless you're doing something shady, such as Blackhat SEO (buying spammy links from a link farm, automating content, keyword stuffing, etc.), you can get your site's rankings back. In fact, they may bounce back after a few days while Google is figuring your site out. Just in case, you should still:
SEMRush Position Tracker: Average position for "Agile Training" over time and as compared a few of our competitors. We are the blue line.
One-and-done changes will not work; it is a constant process of weeding out the old, optimizing the new, and keeping on top of trends and site analytics. Google's algorithm changes will keep coming. The Penguin update of 2012 aimed to de-rank sites that tried to manipulate their rankings by buying hundreds of bogus backlinks. The Hummingbird update of 2013 considered context and meaning over individual keywords, demoting sites that engaged in keyword stuffing. As with every change, Google wants to give the user the best search experience possible. After all, if Google wants people to use their service for search, they must give them useful and relevant search results. We can either go along for the ride blindly without any brakes or GPS, or we can monitor changes, respond to issues that come up, and take steps to mitigate problems before crashing.
Written by Anne Fernandez
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