It is confirmed that Google decided to kick-off the new year with a core algorithm update. Initially there was speculation that the change was a Penguin or Panda update, which was not totally unexpected. However, Search Engine Land reported that Zineb Air Bahajji, Gary Illyes and John Mueller of Google confirmed via Twitter that what we are seeing is actually a core ranking algorithm update.
It is rare, although not unheard of, for Google to confirm a core algorithm update. While the confirmation does answer some questions it leaves many more begging for answers. Here are a few of the things we can answer.
What is a Core Algorithm Update?
Barry Schwartz explains that “In short, it means that the algorithm that is part of the core algorithm is now pretty solid and consistent that it can just join the family of algorithms that Google knows works.”
A core algorithm update does not completely change anything. It take what has been tested and proven and what we have essentially been “told by Google” is important and makes it deeply rooted in the algorithm.
What is the Point?
Look close enough and you will see that there is always a reason behind algorithm updates. It is no surprise that Google’s aim is to provide users with a great experience. Whether it is making searches easier or faster or more accurate at the center of everything is an intention to provide an improved user experience.
There are indicators that this algorithm has a focus on “user intent”. For example if someone is searching “how to get a stain out of carpet” and finds an article on exactly how to do that then the user intention is met.
It is not a big secret that Google rewards websites that provide relevant, high quality content for users. So, it appears that content, for example a comprehensive blog, that covers a relevant topic with substantial and valuable information is going to come out ahead.
Don’t mistake quality for quantity though. The question to ask yourself is “does this piece of content fulfill the user intention” or did we just give them what they were asking for? Massive amounts of mediocre content cannot replace quality content.
How Does the Algorithm Update Affect Me?
That depends. If you have been “playing by the rules” and following best SEO practices you should not only be fine, but your rankings should positively benefit from the update. However, if you’ve been slow to comply you could see rankings drop.
Don’t be surprised if the ground is a little shaky immediately after an update. It is not uncommon to see strange shifts in your rankings. It is common for us to see more ranking movement hour by hour in the immediate days and weeks following an update. This is typically how webmasters know something has changed in the Google Algorithm.
We continue to learn from this update is how important it is to focus on the user experience.
We will continue to monitor rankings and data to provide you with additional information. If you are wondering how or if the algorithm update affected you call us for a free website audit today.