This article is a follow up to our previous blog post, “What You Need to Know About the Google Algorithm Update.” That blog post covered when the most recent Google algorithm update was released and two main theories about the purpose of the update, so make sure to read that if you haven’t! Now let’s get into the steps you can take in an attempt to either recover your website rankings after the update or just try and optimize your website using the new update as a guideline.
1. Update Your “About” Page
First things first, to potentially increase your website rank after this algorithm update, refresh (or add entirely) the “About” section of your website. In Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines (QRG) it states that in order to be a high-quality website, there should be clear information available telling the user about the site and making them feel comfortable using it and trusting the information provided.
There needs to be a section of your website that visitors can go to that explains the intent and purpose of your site and establishes who is responsible for the main content. Take your time and add small details. Clearly tell the visitor what your website is about, when and why it started, and what need it fulfills for them. Add any certifications or accolades the company has achieved. This will show the visitor (and Google) that your website is a trustworthy source.
Adding headshots and bios for employees and executives at your company will help users trust your site more. This gives a face to the brand and company, informing visitors who are behind the business. Talk about the education, experience, and role of each member of the company. Google wants to know who is responsible for your site and business.
2. Add Bios for Main Content Writers
Adding bios to your site is just another way of showing Google your E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness). If you run your own site, make sure you have a bio explaining your credentials and why you have the authority to provide whatever it is that you are providing. Add any awards you have won or distinctions that set you apart as an authority in your industry.
If multiple content creators post to your site (or if you have guest bloggers that post occasionally) list their full names and credentials as well. You can show snippets of their bios in blog posts they write and you can also link back to their full bio page if readers want to see even more evidence of the author’s credentials. Google wants users to feel comfortable and confident in the information they are receiving, and providing an author helps to do this.
Make sure that you are avoiding anonymous posting to your site and any blog posts. If the post is anonymous, it makes it much harder for users and Google to trust the information that is provided. Clearly state who the author was, why they have the authority to be writing that content, and anything else that will help build their credibility.
3. Add Fresh, Accurate Content to Your Site
Another way to increase your E-A-T is to ensure that your content is up-to-date. Google does not want old information and this is especially important if you are in the medical, legal, or financial industries. You don’t want medical advice that is outdated on your site. Make sure you are constantly aware of what is happening in your industry and that your content reflects that. Any evergreen content on your site should be edited to reflect current information.
Check all content for up-to-date information and make sure it is provided by an expert in the subject of the content. If you are posting a blog that prescribes medical or health advice, this advice should be backed by science and the medical field, and the author should be clearly noted. Also, the author needs to have the correct credentials. Continuing with the medical site example, the author should be an M.D or D.O, otherwise, they will need to have an extremely high reputation in the field.
Blogging is a great way to keep up-to-date content on your site. Make sure that if you do blog, you post consistently and frequently. You don’t only want to post once a year when you remember to. Put together a posting schedule and stay on top of it. The more accurate and current information you have on your site, the more relevant your site will be.
Lastly, make sure you are featuring any disclaimers on your site. This is especially pertinent for the financial, legal, or medical industries, but really any website should attempt to be completely transparent to their customers. If a page or product is sponsored or an affiliate, let users know! You don’t want Google thinking you are trying to hide things from your customers. Disclaimers will hint to Google that you are a trustworthy source of information because you are being honest and clear with your visitors.
4. Build Your Reputation
Another thing to look into is the reputation of your website. Google pays very close attention to this and they state in the QRG that even a mildly negative reputation will result in a low rating. “Pay attention when there is evidence of mixed or mildly negative—though not malicious or financially fraudulent—reputation. The Low rating should be used if the website or the creator of the MC has a mildly negative reputation.”
Google also notes that reputation is especially important for YMYL sites. They state that for YMYL sites, even a mixed reputation, as opposed to a mildly negative reputation, is a cause for a low rating. This may be a factor in why YMYL sites seemed to be affected by the update to a greater extent than other industries. So, if your site is a YMYL site, you have to take great care in making sure you have a high reputation. Audience engagement and feedback is becoming more and more important too, so find ways to connect with your customers.
A few negative reviews most likely won’t hurt your ranking- almost every business has them! Just make sure that you are responding to them and putting forth an effort to resolve conflicts or disputes. This will show current and future customers that your business is genuine and committed to customers. Also, reviews can help you improve your business and lead to more positive reviews in the future. If you do have a large number of negative reviews, you need to address them immediately. Figure out why your customers aren’t happy and fix it quickly in order to maintain your reputation.
Other ways to show Google you have a good reputation is by adding a few client reviews or testimonials to your website. You also want to make sure you are encouraging clients to leave reviews across the web- Google reviews are an honest and credible source. You can even integrate Google reviews into your website, adding more E-A-T to your site. Make sure you are not relying on fake reviews though, Google is extremely good at determining what is an honest review and what is not. If Google finds that you have fake reviews for your business it could end up hurting your site. You will also want to build your reputation using other platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
5. Consider Topical Depth and Breadth
On your site, make sure you have a variety of topics and keywords in your content and blogs. The more you know of the different facets of your industry, the more credible and authoritative your site will be to users and Google. Show users that your site should be the go-to resource for anything related to your industry because you have so much knowledge and expertise. This will not only build brand loyalty in your customers, but it will show Google that you are, in fact, an expert.
Also, the more variety you have, the more likely you are to have a page that will closely match a user’s intent. Varied content will allow for more niche, tail-end keywords that will hopefully drive customers to your site. When customers use these long-tail keywords in their query they are likely further down the buyer’s funnel and ready to make a conversion. Often, broad keywords that are easier to use in the main content of your site bring in customers who are still at the top end of the buyer’s funnel. Varied content allows you to use both types of keywords though, hopefully pulling in different and more traffic.
The other aspect to consider is topical depth. Like stated above, first and foremost you want to match the user’s intent. If the information you are providing is simple and straightforward, let that inform your content choices. Research has shown that Google does tend to favor longer blog posts, however, that doesn’t always have to be the case.
Most of your informative blog posts will be longer- in the 1,000+ word count. This is great because it gives you more room to incorporate keywords and links. Links are an extremely important aspect of SEO and longer content does allow you to use more of them. Vary your links by using internal, external, and backlinks; this a great step to increase your website ranking on the SERP.
Again, always be thinking about the user’s intent. What information are they looking for and what are you giving? Are you giving too little information that still leaves them confused and questioning? Or are you giving too much information that leaves the user frustrated trying to search your content for the simple answer they were looking for? You want to give the user the exact right amount of information to answer their question and fulfill the need of their query. Looking at the competition can be a great way to gauge how long your own piece should be. Type your target keywords into Google and see what comes up. Then you can look at the word counts and see what is working for the top ranking results.
In The End…
So, although it is unclear what exactly the Google algorithm update was targeting, it seems to be targeting the E-A-T of websites and/or trying to more accurately match user intent with results. No matter what, the guidelines listed above are good SEO practices with or without the algorithm update. It does seem that the factors are more important now than they were before the update, so if you dropped in website ranking after the Google algorithm update or are just looking for ways to make your site even better, follow those guidelines. We offer SEO services here at Firetoss that tackle these issues as well as many others. Click here to sign up for a free SEO consultation with one of our digital marketing strategists!