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Was your business hit by a “Google-quake?”

Chris Moreschi

Google Ranking Algorithm History

If you run a pest control business — or any local home service business in the US — you may understand the significance of organically appearing in the top results of Google Search (ie: the listings that appear on Google search results naturally, based on their relevance. They aren’t paid for and are influenced by factors like website content, keywords and user experience). But have you ever wondered exactly how Google determines which businesses make it to the top 10 rankings (the coveted page one) and which ones end up outside the first page? This process is what we know as Google’s algorithms. 

You might be surprised that Google employs over 200 ranking factors in its algorithms. These 200 factors can be grouped into nine general categories:

1. Domain factors
2. Page-level factors
3. Site-level factors
4. Backlink factors
5. User interaction
6. Special Google algorithm rules
7. Brand signals
8. On-site web spam factors
9. Off-Site web spam factors

The big clincher? Google rolls out more than 1000 updates to its ranking algorithm every year. Yes, you read it correctly; 1000 updates … almost three updates per day.

Staying on top of these algorithm updates is incredibly challenging, even for a full-time SEO expert. And if you’re running a business, it may feel almost impossible if you have to juggle them with a hundred other tasks.

However, not all updates were created equal. The ones you should educate yourself about and closely monitor are the core updates. As the name suggests, core updates have the most significant impact on search rankings.

Here’s an example of what a Google core update may look like: 

Google Ranking Algorithm - All Categories

Home & Garden Category 

Google Ranking Algorithm - Home Services

Let’s get into the concept of Google algorithm updates, the various algorithm updates, resources for tracking them, ways to determine if your website has been affected, and strategies for overcoming any impact on your home service business website.

What is a Google algorithm update?

A Google algorithm update is a change made to the rules and calculations that Google uses to determine the ranking of web pages in its search results. These updates aim to improve users’ search experience by delivering more relevant and high-quality content.

Consider Google’s algorithm a giant recipe of various ingredients to determine the best search results. The algorithm considers factors like the relevance of keywords, the reputation and authority of websites, and the overall user experience. When an algorithm update is released, it means Google has adjusted this recipe to provide better search results.

These updates can have a significant impact on website rankings. Some websites may see their rankings improve, while others might experience a drop if they don’t meet the new criteria. 

Types of Google algorithm updates

Starting in 2020, Google introduced six categories for their algorithm updates:

1) Core updates
2) Link spam updates
3) Spam updates
4) Product reviews updates
5) Helpful content updates
6) Page experience updates

For this post, we’ll only concentrate on the core updates of Google’s algorithm.

Core updates are significant and broad changes to Google’s search algorithms and systems. They aim to improve the ranking algorithm overall without targeting specific issues. The goal is to enhance the search results for users.

If a core update negatively impacts your website, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve violated any Google guidelines. It could mean that your competitors have outperformed you:

Google Rank Algorithm - Official Announcement

Google advises against making immediate changes to your site if it’s affected by a core update. Instead, focus on creating high-quality content.

Google algorithm update history

Google is always changing how it ranks search results to give users the best and most relevant information. They make more than 1000 updates to their algorithms each year. Some are minor, and you may not even notice them, but others are significant, like the core algorithm updates.

Most of the smaller updates go unnoticed unless you see a sudden increase or decrease in your website’s traffic. But when it comes to major updates, Google does provide updates about them. You can read about some of the recent updates here.

Tools to track Google algorithm update movements

Google doesn’t like third-party tools that monitor algorithm changes. Google spokespersons have even warned SEO experts that these tools are often not very accurate.

However, despite Google’s reservations, these tools can still give you a heads-up when an update is on the horizon. Here are three tools you can use to keep track of Google algorithm updates.

A) SEMrush Sensor

The SEMRush Sensor is a free tool that helps you track the changes in Google’s search results. It shows you the volatility in rankings daily. With SEMrush Sensor, you have multiple ways to analyze the data. It provides real-time updates and allows you to view previous data. This tool is useful for understanding the major changes happening in Google’s algorithm or how your website is performing.

Google Ranking Algorithm - SEMrush Sensor

This tool rates SERP volatility from 0 to 10. A score of 0-2 means the volatility is low. A score of 3-5 is considered normal. If the score is between 6-8, the volatility is high, and anything above 8 is considered very high. When the tool shows a score of 5 or higher, it indicates some significant changes.

2) MozCast

MozCast, by Moz, is another free tool to track Google Search volatility. It acts like a weather report for Google’s algorithm. It gives a “temperature” that shows how much Google’s rankings have been changing in the past 30 days. When it’s hotter and stormier, it means the rankings are in a lot of flux.

Google Ranking Algorithm - MozCast

3) Accuranker’s Google Grump

The final tool on the list is Accuranker’s Google Grump. Like MozCast and SEMrush Sensor, it gives you a detailed report on the changes in Google’s algorithm. However, unlike the others, it isn’t free.

Google Ranking Algorithm - AccuRanker

This tool rates how much search results change on a scale of 0 to 15. If the score is 0 to 10, Google is Chilled. A score of 10 to 12 means Google is being Cautious. When the score is between 12 and 15, Google is Grumpy, and anything over 15 means Google is Furious. The grumpier Google is, the bigger the changes in rankings. This tool also allows you to filter and monitor changes by country and device.

Google Ranking Algorithm - AccuRanker Google Grump

How to check if your website is effected?

If you’ve read this article and understood what we’ve discussed so far, you’re probably wondering how to determine if your website has been affected by a ranking algorithm update.

You’re not the only one with this question.

Checking is quite simple using the tools we mentioned earlier. However, you’ll need to be a paying customer of these tools. We’ll use SEMrunh Sensor to demonstrate the results for our business website, GorillaDesk. 

Google Ranking Algorithm - GorillaDesk

Take a look at the screenshot above. The GorillaDesk website has a volatility score of 4.9. Even though the overall score for all business categories today is 9.3, there’s no need to stress because our score falls within the normal range.

But that doesn’t mean we should stop keeping an eye on it. We’ll continue monitoring it until the GoogleQuake calms down.

What should you do if your website is affected?

With each update, some websites may experience ranking decreases or increases. It doesn’t mean that sites facing drops are bad or are violating any of Google’s guidelines. It’s possible that the websites experiencing gains have benefited from the update.

If you observe that your website is affected and experiences drops, it’s not the end of the world. Here are a few things you should do:

Step-1: Wait & watch 

If you notice a dip and the algorithm update is not completely rolled out, there is nothing you need to do immediately. Usually, Search Engine Results Page (SERP) volatility takes around two weeks to settle down after the complete roll-out. So, the best strategy is to wait and watch. However, closely monitor if you continue to see further dips or regain your positions.

Step-2: Research the update 

If you still notice a dip even after the waiting period (a couple of weeks from the day the rollout completes), it’s time for you to take action. The first thing you should do is to look for the reasons that caused the impact. Your best bet is to check Google’s official Twitter handle and official announcements.

Step-3: Identify & fix Issuess 

Once you finish your research and identify the reasons, you should review your website for those specific issues. If you notice any gaps or areas where your website is insufficient, you must address and fix them immediately.

Step-4: Monitor progress

Once you fill all the gaps, keep a close eye on your site’s performance after making changes and adjustments. It may take some time for your website to recover, so be patient and continue to improve your site.

Step-5: Seek expert advice

If you still don’t see an uptick in your rankings and traffic after following the steps above, it’s time for you to take expert advice. Consult with SEO experts or web developers for additional help and guidance.

Remember, recovering from a Google Algorithm Update may take time, but by following these steps and staying focused on providing a great user experience, you can improve your website’s chances of recovering its rankings and traffic.

You can take charge of your website’s destiny

In conclusion, understanding Google’s ever-evolving ranking algorithm is crucial to achieving online success. As this algorithm evolves over time, regularly monitoring your website’s performance and search rankings is crucial in detecting any adverse impacts caused by algorithm updates. If your website is affected, don’t be disheartened; take proactive steps to analyze the root causes and optimize your content and user experience. Embracing these actions will help recover lost visibility and ensure your website remains relevant and visible to your target audience. 

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