While it is the case that Google updates its search algorithms four to five times every year with little to no information offered to the public, occasionally they deign to let us all know that a major change or update has occurred. One such occasion took place at the start of August this year, and it’s something you’ll probably want to know about if you’re in the field of SEO copywriting.
If you are not familiar with how these update announcements normally go, here is a brief synopsis. The standard procedure sees the release of a clipped and cryptic message from Google describing the update. Hereafter, SEO experts go to work in a Sherlock Holmes-like manner, sifting through the detritus to try and ascertain what the update was about. In this instance, Google announced that they had instigated a broad core algorithm update. In layman’s terms: a very major update indeed.
Well, the answer to that question is still somewhat speculative as major alterations like the one seen this August can have far-reaching consequences that are not always immediately apparent. However, initial assessments indicate that the changes relate mainly to a new way of ranking pages based on already established Google criteria known as EAT: Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. It is used by Google as a metric to assess all pages, but the update seems to have disproportionately affected health-related web pages – in particular, medical and nutrition websites and articles. This has already prompted many to label the changes as the ‘Medic Update’.
In the wake of any major Google update, there is always a scramble among those affected, or those who feel like they may be in the firing line, to find new strategies and tactics to protect their ranking. However, the message that is coming ever-increasingly from both Google and the SEO experts is frustratingly simple: just write great content. Some may scoff and say ‘Of course Google would say that, but what are the real tricks to gaming the system?’. However, the simple truth is that the Blackhat techniques that were once used in place of a good writing team have increasingly become a ‘shortcut’ that takes twice as long as the normal road. One has to bear in mind that Google’s essential raison d’etre is to sort the bad content from the good. To try and gain ranking without the latter is to set yourself against the vested interest of the most powerful and technologically advanced company on the planet. Your funeral, my friend!
Have you seen a decrease in your ranking and traffic as a consequence of the update? One thing to bear in mind is that it may not necessarily be a fault with your content. Google has stated that many placement changes are due to the update benefitting ‘pages that were previously under-rewarded’. However, one thing that does seem to be emerging from assessments of the EAT criteria is the need to have expert writers contributing content. Whether that means you need to develop an in- house team of writers or outsource your expert content creation to an SEO copywriting company (like greatcontent), you’ll want to ensure that your website makes it clear that this is authoritative content. One thing that has been noted on medical and nutrition web pages that took a hit in the wake of the update is the absence of suitable credentials when it came to the author or, when the author did possess respectable credentials, a failure to display said credentials in a searchable way.
The latest core update seems to be yet another step in the march towards a day when there will be little point in worrying about how to showcase or superficially polish existing content in a way that ‘looks’ good to Google. Ultimately, ‘truth (and good content) will out!’.
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Text: Brendan Hickey