In the past few months you might have noticed your websites ranking in Google improve or drop for your target keywords. If you’re scratching your head wondering why, then we’ll enlighten you will a pretty simple answer… Google implemented a core algorithm update in March of 2019.
This update has had a mixed impact on website rankings across several industries. But before we freak everyone out, keep in mind Google updates their ranking algorithm on daily basis. The difference between March updates and the daily ones, is that March was a core update. This means the changes can have larger impact on your websites ranking and traffic.
What has changed?
The short answer is, we don’t know. Google keeps their updates and ranking formula a closely guarded secret. They do give us general hints as to what has changed, but these are generally extremely vague.
Right now, we are in the process of figuring out what has changed and the impact it will have on your websites ranking. From our research we can not really find any definitive answers or consistency between ranking changes.
Some theories about what has changed in Google’s 2019 Algorithm Update
Lucky for us we are involved in a lot of online communities where we can discuss theories with other SEO consultants around the globe. We have found a few theories that we believe have merit, however at this point it is too early to determine fact from theory.
A Potential Bias Toward Well-known Brands & Authoritative Websites
There was a theory going around that Google introduced a bias towards brands and authoritative sites. The logic behind this is Google displays websites the users expect to see in the search results, not necessarily the website with the best page that relates to the search enquiry.
For example, let’s say you’re looking to get a home loan, you search “lending requirements for a home loan”. Most people would expect to see a well-established bank in the search results with the answer. These banks might not have the best answer on their website, but Google knows the user trusts authoritative companies more than “Bobs Financial Planning”, which might in fact be the website with the most relevant information to the search query.
March 2019 Update Backlink Theory
It is also theorised that Google is moving away from using backlinks as a ranking factor and more of a relevance factor. This theory suggests that the algorithm will not emphasis ranking websites with the most authoritative backlinks but strongly consider the relevance of the backlink to your industry.
For example, backlinks from websites that are specific to the industry you operate in would be considered more relevant ie. a backlink from the Institute of Chartered Accountant website to a local Accounting firms. It is theorised that backlink relevance has a stronger impact in the March 2019 algorithm update.
Theory About Clicks and Bounce Rate Metrics
User satisfaction is one of Googles major objectives when ranking websites. If a user is visiting a website then leaving the site soon after, it is a good indication that Google isn’t returning the information the user is looking for.
This isn’t necessarily a sign that the website is of poor quality, it is more an indication that the Google algorithm isn’t doing what it is intended to do.
What to do
With all this in mind, it is apparent what SEO specialists need to do and that is focus on the user. Even with all these changes Googles priority is delivering the best user experience. This is why Google is king of the search engine industry and not Ask Jeeves (if you remember what that is).
Your focus towards SEO should be on providing value to the user. It should be about producing high quality information that people want and need. It should involve building a good reputation about your business online and becoming a resource hub for users.
As the algorithm advances, cheap SEO tactics are going to work less and less. There is no silver bullet to get your website ranking, all that you can do is put in the hard work. We know this is very anticlimactic advice, but it’s the truth. Compare SEO to weight loss for example. Most people know the key to losing weight is to eat healthy and exercise, but still we seek quick fixes when the answer has been in front of us this whole time.