6 Tips for Handling Search Engine Algorithm Changes

Hearing of a search engine algorithm update can be scary as you hear stories of people losing their site revenue overnight and traffic numbers tanking. It can also make you step back and question if you know enough about SEO.

The core of SEO has stayed the same for many, many years and will continue to hold true.

What comes and goes are the lower quality tactics that focus on short term benefits and don’t care about the long term impact.

If you look back at previous updates most of them either:

→ Remove low quality sites (low quality content, back link profiles, etc.) from search results or…

→ Aim to better understand search queries to deliver more relevant search results

If you don’t focus on the experience of site visitors, you should be worried.

If, however, your strategy is to deliver a high quality experience for site visitors and stay within Google’s guidelines, you have far less to worry about and should continue focusing on your high quality SEO efforts, content creation and promotion.

6 Tips for Handling Search Engine Algorithm Changes

So since we can’t control when and if these updates happen, let’s keep the focus on what we can control.

#1 Understand what Google wants webmasters to know about their core updates

Just as any business should be, Google is constantly working to improve. Here’s what they want you to know about their updates and taking the time to understand this can take a lot of the fear out of their updates.

#2 Set your intention

Understand there will certainly be some gains and losses with any updates that can be monitored after an update is fully rolled out. Be aware of this and come to expect it so you don’t go into complete panic mode. Bad decisions happen when you’re in that state of mind.

#3 Don’t make changes too fast

If your sites does start taking a dip in traffic, don’t panic. First, read about the specific algorithm update (more on that below) and see what it is targeting so you can evaluate if the site may have gone against Google’s guidelines or participated in a low quality SEO tactic.

Then monitor your traffic for a couple of weeks. Updates can cause traffic to fluctuate and you don’t want to make any decisions as Google is still figuring out what to do with your site.

#4 Consider what else could cause a dip in traffic

If you do experience a dip in traffic, look at your traffic patterns weeks or months before the update to make sure there isn’t another cause to the traffic dip. For instance, the May 2020 update happened during a global pandemic. The pandemic itself caused many businesses to close and traffic naturally dropped with that.

Some businesses are seasonal and traffic naturally dies down at that time. Others take breaks from creating content, promoting content and link building. All of these can cause traffic numbers to change so make sure you consider all possible factors.

With this one happening in the middle of a pandemic, the types of searches that typically brought in traffic have to be considered as some will suffer solely because of the pandemic.

#5 Don’t let low quality tactics tempt you

People are drawn to low quality tactics because they’re after a short term gain. Maybe they want to impress a new client, sell a website and want to make it appear better than it is or something similiar. When you see competitors who are ranking highly in organic or local pack search results who you can clearly see are using low quality strategies, it can be frustating and even tempting to do the same.

Know your game plan and be confident in it. Stick with it as you’re after long term results not short term (and short lived!) results.

The strategy that I have followed for years and will continue to follow is to:

1. Use white hat, high quality SEO techniques. This of course includes high quality link building and content marketing which will bring in traffic and help with SEO.

2. Produce high quality content and promote it heavily

3. Understand and use other forms of marketing to compliment SEO efforts

#6 Monitor search result volatility

It certainly helps to be proactive and not be blind sided by updates. Here are a few places where you can monitor (and set-up notifications) to track Google’s SERPs volatility:

  • SEMRush Sensor: measures volatility in search results, tracking down 20+ categories on mobile and desktop and highlighting possible Google Updates
  • Bright Local RankFlux: tracks daily ranking movements across 14,000+ keywords to measure volatility and identify suspected algorithm updates

Unavoidable Algorithm Updates

We cannot control or avoid these algorithm updates, however, when we focus on what we can do right that is good for SEO and our site visitors. Unless you are doing something that goes against Google’s terms, keep doing what you are doing.

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