Google updates their algorithm each day, designed to improve the user’s search results. Most have little noticeable change but help Google to incrementally improve search.
Sometimes, Google makes broad changes to the core algorithm. They inform us about those because the actionable advice is that there is nothing in particular to “fix,” and they don’t want content owners to mistakenly try to change things that aren’t issues.
In March 2019, Google confirmed a core change to its algorithm. This was officially announced, meaning it could have a serious effect on SEO and digital marketing campaigns. The information that we have gathered indicates that this update is potentially one of the biggest updates in years.
The History of Large Google Algorithm Change
Google doesn’t usually give confirmation or announce updates for one main reason: there are so many. People probably think it happens once maybe twice a year but actually, Google updates their algorithm around 600 times a year. They’d spend almost as much time announcing the updates as they do working on them if they let us know every time they did some work.
This is when their large scale updates come in to play. They will usually announce “broad core algorithm updates” or other terms to that effect. These are the ones that you need to look out for. These affect search results in significant ways, positive and negative.
The most comparable update is that of the “medic” update of 2018. This was a “broad core algorithm update,” with wide reports of massive impact. It rolled out over the period of about a week but peaked on August 1-2. This update seemed to disproportionately affect sites in the health and wellness vertical, although the large-scale impact was seen in all verticals. Google always deny targeting specific industry niches.
Why Do Google Algorithm Changes Matter?
For us search marketers, knowing the dates of these Google updates can help explain changes in rankings and organic website traffic and ultimately improve search engine optimisation. We understand that Google’s algorithm is fluid due to small changes every day, but this doesn’t ever result in any sudden changes. This isn’t the case with large updates.
Google’s previous advice is, “there’s no ‘fix’ for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.” If your rankings did change recently, it may have been related to this broad core ranking update and not necessarily related to a technical change you made on your website.
This allows us to know if there should be a change in approach towards your website. Keeping eyes on the industry reaction to these algorithm changes will give us a really good idea to why positions change.
What is the Name of the Algorithm Change?
As Google rarely announces updates and when they do it’s usually very unceremonious, names are thought up by the SEO community. This includes the “medic” update, as SEOs observed the most change in health industries. This one has been affectionately called “Florida 2” due to relations to the original “Florida 1.”
The truth is, there is absolutely no relation to Florida 1, which was in November 2003. Google’s algorithms, index, the search engine was a completely different beast then. Florida 1 was way bigger than this update. The reason Brett Tabke (founder of WebmasterWorld) named it Florida 2 is because Florida 1 happened around a PubCon event he ran in Florida back then and now Florida 2 happened a week after PubCon Florida last week.
However, there are rare occurrences where Google officially names an update. The “Panda” update was originally coined the “farmer” update by SEOs. Google didn’t like that the SEO community was going with the Florida 2 name, so they decided to tweet out that they are going to be calling it the “March 2019 Core Update.”
What Has Changed in The March Algorithm 2019?
Like always, Google is playing their cards close to their chest. As mentioned before they rarely announce any change. They haven’t announced anything officially on the details of the change, they have only released this tweet:
This week, we released a broad core algorithm update, as we do several times per year. Our guidance about such updates remains as we’ve covered before. Please see these tweets for more about that: https://t.co/uPlEdSLHoXhttps://t.co/tmfQkhdjPL
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) March 13, 2019
It is our job as search engine marketers to figure out what is being changed through measurement of changes over the next few weeks. In certain spheres, some are saying this was again targeting the health/medical space. But, Google has said there was no specific target at medical or health sites with that August 1st update. This can be seen with the SEM Rush sensor showing high volatility for all keywords across all industries.
What Should You Do in Reaction The Google Update?
In short? Nothing. Yet.
This algorithm does obviously mean your keyword positions in the search engine results page could be experiencing fluctuations. This could be good or bad and will be determined by the new algorithm. This doesn’t mean it’s time to panic and change everything about your site.
There are no quick fixes in SEO and this includes algorithm changes, even the large ones. This algorithm change won’t even be fully implemented until around a week. Aggressively changing aspects of the site without first fully understanding what the algorithm is affecting would be a huge mistake. The best bet, if there are negative keyword fluctuations, is to focus on producing quality content.
For previous large updates, some users have reported massive keyword drops which then returned to normal suddenly in a week or two. Some movements stay permanent which will then require change and analysis of why, but patience is key here.
Have I been Affected By The New Google Update?
Initial reports by SEM Rush indicate that the fluctuations aren’t any more when compared to previous core updates. However, there have been a few industries hit harder than others. These are Autos & Vehicles, Health and Pets & Animal industries. If your business falls into one of these industries you’re going to be likely experiencing fluctuations in organic positions. It is your Digital Marketers responsibility to overcome this and support your business through these updates.
To determine why these industries have been hit, experts continue to follow Google’s advice. They have released the Search Quality Guidelines which outlines a number of algorithm factors highlighted by Google themselves, so they hold a lot of weight. Most of these are linked towards content, which is why we believe our SEO clients will be in great hands going forward. Some of the examples of bad pages that Google has listed are as follows:
SEO is Constantly Changing and We Are Prepared
We at Digital Ethos understand that Google is constantly changing the algorithm so we adapt our approaches to these changes. We always measure results to make informed decisions so our clients don’t experience a knee-jerk reaction to their campaign. We have seen a great rise in keyword positions from this algorithmic update because we believe in producing great quality content, so we can apply all our techniques and knowledge towards you to keep you competitive in the search results.