One survey found that 58 percent of respondents were negatively impacted with a drop in SEO ranking. Here are your options.

April 23, 2019 5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Just when you think you’ve got SEO figured out, Google comes out with a new algorithm update. The latest one isn’t as much of an overhaul as the company’s past updates, but it is important to address its new factors — otherwise, you risk a drop in your search engine ranking. Something to note: Primary factors that impacted ranking changes with this rollout were content-specific rather than technical, which makes adjustments easier.

While data is still coming in on the full impact of the core update, a survey conducted by Search Engine Roundtable found that 58 percent of respondents were negatively impacted via a drop in ranking. A portion of these respondents had also been negatively impacted by the prior update, and 44 percent of them have still not recovered from that ranking drop. Whether you were a winner or a loser in the March 2019 core update, there are actions to take to recover or maintain your SEO ranking.

User Signals

User experience is the primary focus of this update. Google continues to refine its search results for queries to ensure that the results meet the searcher’s needs. One of the key SEO measures used by the updated algorithm is bounce rates. Sites that improved their SEO ranking after the update had an average on-site visitor time that was 26 percent higher than those that had lowered SEO rankings. They also had lower bounce rates than sites that had a drop in SEO rankings.

The best way to improve user signals on your site is to directly answer their query. To test your effectiveness on this issue, determine what users mean when they make search queries relevant to your business. Next, review your existing content to determine if it answers a user’s question or deviates from the topic, and adjust or create additional content to fill in gaps or improve clarity. Finally, consider adding sections that concisely answer the query, then direct the searcher to additional internal content for more information on their search.

Trust and Branding

Google now appears to favor websites that have a high level of trust, especially those that deliver information on sensitive “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) topics. While these topics have been a focus of special attention by Google, especially regarding queries about health, finance and safety, the new algorithm applies this a bit differently. Now, the preferential treatment is extended to sites with a strong brand profile and broad topical focus.

If your site delivers specific, high-quality and reliable information on a broad range of topics, such as insurance, education, wellness and more, you could benefit from the YMYL boost by using keywords that will drive searches to your site and keep them there.

Best Content

When it comes to SEO, content is still king. Sites with lower-quality content were hit hard by the update, experiencing a significant drop in their ratings. Poor content isn’t just about the quality of the content, but also when it was published. Sites that haven’t been updated or have had sporadic updates in the past are considered lower-quality content as far as the algorithm is concerned. In contrast, sites with an active publishing schedule did well, especially when coupled with quality content that kept visitors on their sites.

This information reinforces that quality is more important than quantity, but it should also serve as a wake-up call that you need consistent, fresh content to maximize your SEO ranking. Many entrepreneurs struggle with providing updated content to their site, but there are a variety of automated tools that can help you schedule and manage this process.

Don’t Forget 

While the new algorithm has targeted user signals branding, trust and best content, don’t ignore other issues that continue to impact your SEO rankings. ClickMatix, a Melbourne-based digital marketing agency, created an infographic detailing additional SEO activities that entrepreneurs should focus on in 2019, including:

  • Linkless Mentions. These are mentions occur when your blog, customer review, product or service is mentioned by name but without the accompanying link back to your site.
  • Voice Search Optimization. The focus on keyword phrases that support audio searches using phones or voice-activated assistants.
  • Natural Link Building. This tried and true method will still be in play, but the links must now be meaningful to the searcher to support SEO rankings.
  • Technical SEO. While the new algorithm was not focused on this issue, Google does notice if there are problems so your coding needs to be up to date.
  • On-Page Optimization. Beyond great content, each page of your site needs to deliver the best user experience possible.
  • Local Optimization. This topic is especially important for entrepreneurs with a local or regional customer base. You can take advantage of tools like Google My Business to drive local SEO rankings.

Bottom Line

The rollout of Google’s March 2019 core update has left many entrepreneurs scrambling to recapture their high SEO rankings. Fortunately, to recover from a lower ranking or ensure continued SEO success, the fixes are fairly straightforward. The key is to blend this new focus with trending SEO-critical tasks to achieve the best results.

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