Google’s latest two algorithm updates, Medic and Birthday, each had a significant impact on where affected websites found themselves ranking within the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Many shifted from the number one position to much lower positions or disappeared from the SERPs altogether. SEO experts note that e-commerce, financial, legal, and medical websites, referred to as Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) websites, suffered the greatest negative impact in search rankings and traffic.
Why? Google firmly believes that such websites need to have a high degree of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) in order to properly guide consumers. In short, both updates adjusted how a website’s reputation is evaluated, thereby impacting its individual SERPs ranking.
It’s also important to remember that the updates followed closely behind Google’s revision to the Search Quality Rater Guidelines in July. These guidelines are implemented by Google’s search-quality raters – individuals who manually visit websites and score them for the search giant. Though manual scores don’t impact your website’s search ranking, you can hedge your bets that the search algorithms that do directly impact your ranking are closely aligned.
In the raters’ update, Google introduced a new section asking raters to consider both the “beneficial purpose” of a website’s content and the reputation of the content creator. Such sections suggest a need for in-depth analysis of a website’s content to understand both its purpose and perception.
If your website has been negatively impacted by the latest updates, critically analyzing your website through the Google E-A-T lens is your best repair strategy. Does your website showcase your expertise through a prominent About section with biographies for contributing bloggers or staff? Is the relationship between your website pages and content obvious and purposeful? How does your social-media strategy align with your individual brand, and is your brand verified across several social platforms? Have you secured your website with an SSL certificate, and do you need to showcase GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliance? Is your Pagerank contributing to or inhibiting your SERPs ranking, and is it time to focus on influencing new and more trustworthy backlinks?
With each update, Google has attempted to refine how its search engine evaluates your website’s overall reputation. Your primary focus should be on any adjustment that helps to instill a sense of expertise and trust within your audience, while also focusing on activities that build your authority across the Internet.
As you evaluate your website, remember that you are what you “eat.”
Cameron Elliott, Digital Marketing Strategist at RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy, can be reached at redrovercompany.com.