On May 4, 2020, Google quietly announced a major change to how it ranks websites. As a result, many websites lost their rankings in Google. In this detailed article, I’ll show you the same strategies I’ve used to keep my website (and my clients’ websites) fool-proof during every major Google change, including this recent one.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
It happens at least once a year. And it affects a lot of businesses. But if you’re not someone who pays attention to the world of “search engine optimization” (SEO), you probably haven’t noticed.
On May 4th, Google started rolling out a major update (or change) to the formula it uses to rank websites. Although some sites saw the effects right away, it could take up to four weeks before the full effects settle.
If you’re not an avid follower of SEO news, let me break down why the effects of a major Google update should matter to you.
Google usually releases one or more relatively *minor* changes to its ranking formula every single day. A ranking formula is the formula that Google uses to decide who ranks at the top of a Google search and who ranks waaaaay down on the bottom of page 100 where the sun don’t shine 🙂 Every search engine uses its own proprietary ranking formula. (Ever wondered why you get different results when you use Google vs. Bing? That’s why).
As a matter of fact, all search engines (Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, etc.) make changes to their formulas every day. Why? Because just like every business, search engines want to continuously improve the products and services they sell. For search engines, that product/service is this: consistently show relevant, useful results every time people search.
So to summarize, search engines make frequent *minor* changes to their ranking formula so that they can consistently provide relevant results when people search.
But here’s the thing…
That’s Google’s actual tweet from Twitter. (I follow Google on Twitter. I’m a proud nerd).
As I was saying, at least once each year, Google makes a *major* update…what they call a core update. Core updates tend to be major changes to Google’s ranking formula.
The goal of these core updates is always to improve the search results…because again, Google wants to always show relevant, useful results every time people search.
Since Google is the most used search engine, its core updates can affect a lot of businesses. Every time Google makes a core update, some websites rise to the top of Google–which can be great for those businesses. But that also means some websites drop from the top of Google–which can be devastating for many businesses.
Imagine if you’re a widget manufacturer and all of a sudden you’re no longer ranked #1 when people google “widget manufacturer.” All the traffic and sales you were getting from people who were finding you by googling “widget manufacturer” will literally disappear overnight. Losing that #1 ranking, could be devastating. Imagine what that could do to your business if you lost your top rankings in Google.
So did Google’s recent May update affect websites? Short answer: Yes.
As soon as the update started, many SEO research companies–who monitor millions of websites across the internet–started to see massive shake-ups in the Google rankings of many websites. In other words, many websites started losing their rankings and others started gaining new rankings. As you can see in the graph below, these shake-ups (aka: volatility) started on May 4th.
The volatility affected websites in nearly every industry category, with some categories losing and others winning. See the Winners and Losers charts below…where does your website fall?
Whether you’re a Winner or a Loser on the list, it’s clear: nearly industry was impacted. When you lose your Google rankings, someone else (a competitor) takes your spot. Here’s how it works: you lose your ranking > you lose any clicks you would have gotten from Google for those rankings > you lose traffic to your website > which causes you to lose vital leads, sales and phone calls from your potential customers. Not good. So it’s important to get ahead of the effects of this core update.
The question is…
How can you quickly find and fix any negative impacts from Google’s core update? Here are the 3 critical steps that have paid off for me and my clients, time and time again.
Now is the time to keep a very cllllose eye on how your website traffic is being impacted by this core update. If you haven’t already done so, make sure you have Google Search Console set up for your website. This article explains: how to set up Google Search Console for your website.
A lot of businesses have Google Analytics set up, but what I’m talking about here is Google Search Console (GSC). GSC is Google’s free tool that tells you everything that’s happening with your website when people try to find you on Google.
A simple way to think of Google Search Console is it tells you everything that happened to your website on Google before the searcher ever clicked to come to your website. Things like: How often does my website even show up on Google? Is my website on page 1 or page 100 of Google? Do people usually click on my website or ignore it? Does my website have errors that make it hard for Google to rank it? And much, much more.
If you don’t have Google Search Console set up or you don’t have it set up correctly…we need to talk. Contact me below.
Expand the time frame in Google Search Console to the “last 3 months.” Then, look for shifts in Total Impressions and Average Position. You’ll find it under Performance > Open Report.
If you notice a downward trend over the next two to four weeks, identify the specific pages that have lost their rankings and analyze them closely to uncover similarities. Do these pages have anything in common? Sometimes they won’t, but sometimes they will. Maybe for you, most of the pages that declined were blog pages. Maybe they were product pages. Maybe they are pages you recently edited. Any trends you can spot will help with Step 3. Again, if you don’t spot any trends, no worries. Step 3 still applies.
Now it’s fix time. Looking at the pages you identified in Step 2, here are some of the common reasons why websites have lost their Google traffic in past core updates.
When implemented correctly, the following fixes can mean the difference between sales and no sales come next month.
Let’s dive in.
When implemented correctly, these fixes can mean the difference between sales and no sales come next month.
If you’re confused or unsure of what to do next, reach out below and I’ll point you in the right direction.
I help entrepreneurs, business owners and marketers get their websites to the top of Google so they can stop wasting money on paid ads and start attracting consistent FREE clicks, leads and sales from Google WITHOUT hiring an agency or investing insane amounts of their time and money.
Since 2002, I’ve helped hundreds of businesses and Fortune 500 companies with their digital marketing. And I’ve received many awards for my SEO work. (SEO is the type of digital marketing that helps websites get to the top of Google). I’m also a professor of digital marketing at Canisius College in New York State where I’ve taught hundreds of MBA-level students.
Here’s what I’ve learned over the years… Getting your website to rank in Google is not complicated; it’s a skill that anyone can learn! All you need is a coach to help you figure out what to do and where to start–so you can minimize your stress, maximize your profitability and become ultra efficient at driving ready-to-buy traffic from Google every single day.
We’ll talk about your specific business, I’ll answer any SEO questions you have, and, if we’re a match for each other, I’ll invite you to join my upcoming program where I’ll teach you ALL the strategies I’ve used to get websites to the top of Google.
This is a live webinar where I explain SEO basics. If you have many questions about your specific business, book a one-on-one consultation instead–or sign up for both!