Google Core Update: Quality ranks better

After the Core Algorithm Update in March 2019, Google has rolled out another major update for its search algorithm in the beginning of June 2019. As usual, Google plays its cards very close to its chest and is not giving away many insights about the latest update. We talked to our SEO expert Dajana Doskoc who had a closer look into the possible effects that the latest update could have on the performance and visibility of your website.

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What were Google’s core algorithm updates in March and June all about?

Doskoc: As always, it is pretty difficult to say what exactly was changed, since there is no official detailed statement from Google about the specific changes. But we do know that the last two big updates had a direct effect on the search engine rankings and were also noticeable for larger, well ranked websites. Such big updates can already be visible in the first 24h after their roll out. In some cases, however, significant performance changes are only visible after a few days. It is important to keep in mind that the Core Algorithm Update in March was not related to the so called „Neural Matching Update” which is an AI-based method created by Google to correlate and analyse words, content strategies and concepts. Also, the latest updates were not related to „Penguin Updates”: the evaluation of links, whether internal or external, remains unchanged.

What is the intention behind the latest Google update? What are the goals?

Doskoc: Google constantly tries to improve the content quality. Such updates shall motivate website operators to focus on the creation of high-quality content. Until only a few years ago, many website operators wrote and optimised their content mainly for search engines. You may remember texts that were hard to read because they were obviously only written to insert as many keywords as possible in order to rank better in Google’s search results. Today’s approach is completely different: website content should always be primarily tailored to user needs. And this is exactly what Google tries to achieve by rolling out such core updates: the search engine tries to ensure that users are offered high-quality content, especially on websites that can have a direct or indirect impact on the users’ quality of life.

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Who benefits most from this improvement?

Doskoc: My analysis in March showed particularly striking results in the “Medical & Health” area. The conclusion back then was that Google wanted to relativise the impact of a big update from August 2018. At that time, especially „Medical & Health” websites were negatively affected by the core algorithm changes. The recent updates this year were used for some adjustments because, casually speaking, Google was somewhat „too strict” back then. It is not clear yet who will be among the winners in the medium term. Based on my observation, I do believe that it has paid off for numerous companies to invest in high-quality content that is adapted to user needs and specific target groups. This does not necessarily only refer to particularly long and detailed texts, but also includes short content like the one on landing pages that are limited to the information that is fundamentally relevant for users. For sure high-quality content ranks better!

So, the June update is focusing on quality?

Doskoc: The June update was rolled out between June 3rd and 8th and focuses on the quality of website content. This time so-called YMYL-websites – which stands for „Your Money, Your Life” – were particularly affected. However, stronger fluctuations can also be seen in other areas, such as retail and news. Also, there were some significant ranking and performance losses in the gambling niche, while now websites operating in the health sector noticed some improvements. This time it seems that Google has relativised some of their brand and authority quality factors, which has led to visibility improvements on some health-related websites.

What can you do if you notice a crash of your website performance in the Google ranking after such an algorithm update?

Doskoc: First of all, do not panic! Negative ranking chances shortly after a Google update are not a big drama. First of all because with each big change Google has to analyse each website and landing page again. If you notice some negative ranking changes, this might be Google’s way to tell you that there is some room for improvement. If you then step by step tackle these potentials and optimise your website’s technical setup as well as the content, you will be able to achieve stable rankings and a good performance. Also, once your website is properly optimised and set up, you won’t need to fear any big ranking or visibility losses caused by other updates in the future.

Does a possible short-term ranking crash say anything about the quality of your own content?

Doskoc: No, not necessarily. However, we do recommend having a look at your own website from a user’s point of view. Ask yourself if the information onsite is well structured, if users can find relevant content quickly and easily. If, however, the visibility index as well as your website traffic decrease permanently, and your rankings deteriorate considerably, you will need to take a closer look. That is exactly why in the days following such an update we observe our customer websites more than usual to be able to detect hints and react quickly to performance changes. We inform our clients and help them to react in the best possible way to such changes. Also, we do recommend everyone to study the Google Quality Rater Guidelines. They explain how search and content are related and how you can create relevant content for your target group, while following Google’s content guidelines. We support our clients in understanding and implementing these complex rules.

And how do you know what your target group is looking for?

Doskoc: This is exactly the question we tackle with our „SEO as a Service” (PDF) support. We help our customers to understand their users’ search intensions. Based on this we can then help them reaching their target groups efficiently. First of all, we need to understand the detailed business model. Also, we offer SEO audits in order to analyse the performance, already existing target groups and potentials. Working together is the key to success: to rank well in a long run and not be negatively affected by some of the next Google updates, we elaborate long-term strategies and offer ongoing SEO support. Also, it is important to stay informed about new updates, in order not to miss any, like the „Diversity Update”.

What is this update all about?

Doskoc: Google’s Diversity Update was rolled out between June 4th and 6th, 2019. Although the roll out took place at the same time as the core update’s one, they are not directly related. The goal of the Diversity Update is to prevent an average of more than two search results from the same domain being listed in the top results for a particular search query. However, there are also some exceptions: if certain landing pages are rated as particularly valuable for users, it can make sense to display more than two search results for the same domain. Subdomains should also be treated as part of the domain.

A last question: what does Google consider as „good quality”? Is it all about the writing style, the facts, specific topics…?

Doskoc: I would say it is a good mix of all that. Authenticity and originality paired with expertise: this sets you apart from the competition and makes you unique! Always keep in mind that you are primarily writing for your target group, your readers, your users – never specifically for the search engine. Put your users first and Google will appreciate it!

About: Dajana Doskoc has been working for Jobiqo since autumn 2017. She supports clients especially in all questions related to search engine optimisation (SEO). In her many years of work for various digital agencies and as a freelance digital marketing specialist, she was responsible for international customers such as A1 Telekom, Carglass, Motorola, simpliTV and Red Bull. She was a TEDxVienna Board Member between 2014 and 2017 and head of the Communication and PR team.

This article was published on April 12, 2019 and updated on June 12, 2019 due to the new Google update.

Photo: Marko Zlousic, neonhippo.at

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