Recently, we’ve seen Google make several prominent updates that impact both consumers and businesses. For consumers, Google continues to take actionable steps toward better understanding searchers’ queries and website experiences – from individual pages to the whole site, as evidenced by the recent core updates and the Page Experience update. For businesses, this can result in fluctuations in search ranking, which often cause concern and raise questions regarding how long they can expect to see a positive or negative impact. Being able to secure the SERPs remains a priority for businesses amid Google’s influx of updates.
We were recently joined by several members of the NP Digital team for an in-depth discussion of how business can stay in sync with Google’s future updates and how to secure a top position on the search engine results pages (SERPs) to improve brand visibility. Our webinar panelists included Dave Shapiro, Vice President of Earned Media at NP Digital, Luke O’Leary, SEO Manager at NP Digital, Scott Zimmerman, and Sr. SEO Strategist at NP Digital.
Let’s dive into the top takeaways from the webinar as well as the strategies discussed to secure the SERPs in the face of continuous Google Search updates.
Breaking Down the Top Google Updates This Summer
There has been no shortage of Google updates this summer, many of which are causing concern for marketers. Multiple large confirmed Algorithm updates took place in the earlier part of summer, with the second part of the early June Broad Core Algorithm update recently completed rolling out in early July. The June and July Google Core Algorithm Updates led to high volatility across the search landscape. Some businesses saw their rankings take a dramatic dip due to the Core Algorithm Updates.
The Google Updates didn’t end there. Google also continues to roll out the Page Experience Update, as well as several large Spam Updates. The Spam Update “is even more effective at identifying and nullifying link spam more broadly, across multiple languages,” according to the Google Search Central blog. The Page Experience Update also focuses on improving the user experience and combines Core Web Vitals with existing search signals such as mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines.
It’s evident Google will continue to make improvements, in fact, they make minor improvements every day. In 2020, Google made 4,500 updates, a number that has been on the rise since 2017. How your business prepares for these updates will determine your path for securing and maintaining your position in the SERPs. Which begs the question, how can you shift the paradigm from dreading Google Updates to loving them?
I like algorithm updates a lot. I find that if you’ve been doing the right things and keeping it honest, they are very rewarding. “~famous last words~” for an SEO, but I really feel this way.
— scott zimmerman (@scottjzimmerman) June 3, 2021
4 Strategies to Secure the SERPs and Learn to Love Google Updates
In the webinar, the NP Digital team discusses how to learn to love Google’s updates and shares four proven-strategies that can help your business mitigate fluctuations in rankings for future updates.
Let’s explore each of these strategies more in-depth.
Make the Journey Unique to Your Audience
Google is expanding on authority-based signals to rate and rank websites. These authority signals, often known as E-A-T (expertise, authority, and trust) have been around for some time but are gaining importance with Google Updates. One way to build your authority with Google is to understand your audience’s touch points.
As NP Digital points out, most of the consumer journey occurs on other websites, rather than a single touchpoint. For example, if a consumer is searching for furniture ideas, they may first turn to Pinterest or Instagram to draw inspiration from others. Then, they may pare down their search to living room furniture and leverage Google Search to see potential places to buy during the evaluation stage. Once they’re ready to make a purchase, they may search “furniture store near me” on Yelp, Google Maps, or Google search once they’re actually ready to purchase.
If you’re not being found where your customers are looking, including other platforms and websites, you risk being passed over during the research and discovery stage. Find where your ideal customers spend their time and develop a marketing strategy to augment this. This may include a mix of link building on relevant sites, sponsored posts, media pitching, industry interviews, or influencers in your space. Sparktoro is a great resource to use to find what your audience reads, watches, listens to, and follows.
Image courtesy of NP Digital
Take Advantage of Free Real Estate on Google
Consider the amount of information shown for a search result on a mobile device when compared to desktop result. Naturally, a mobile device will have less available real estate to showcase your business’ information. Despite the limited space, there are still opportunities your business can take advantage of to convey pertinent information to high-intent searchers, such as your business name, address, phone number, calls to action, and website link for that location.
For desktop users, your Google My Business (GMB) listing has even more available real estate right at a glance for searchers. Google Posts also appear more prominently on a desktop listing result. Google Posts are another great high visibility opportunity to share offers, COVID-19 information, special events, and more.
Google also recently announced free listings to Google’s Shopping tab in the United States. Listings appear in results at no cost to the business. This serves as another free resource to encourage conversions with potential customers.
Ensure you’re taking advantage of all the free GMB features available to you, from attributes to reviews, to give searchers all the information they need to know about your business to transact with you. Check out this infographic to make sure you are making the best use of GMB’s features.
Use Different Platforms of Content
There are three factors which impact how Google views your site, and in turn, ranks it. These factors include prominence, relevance and proximity. Your business must cut through the noise to increase your content’s information gain. Bill Slawksi, editor of SEO by the Sea shares,
“Information gain scores indicate how much more information one source may bring a person who has seen other sources on the same topic. Pages with higher information gain scores may be ranked higher than pages with lower information gain scores.”
The more relevant and informative your content is around a subject, the more likely you’ll be to outrank your competition. NP Digital points to Glassdoor who has seen tremendous success creating unique pieces of content using their own data. Rather than repurposing third-party data, Glassdoor leverages their own insights to draw inspiration to shape their content. This provides readers with differentiated, unreplicated information that helps Glassdoor draw more organic traffic and keep visitors on these pages longer.
Image courtesy of NP Digital
For some businesses that were temporarily because of COVID-19, branded searches are still showing these locations in the SERPs. A Google Post could help mitigate confusion and can show when you plan to reopen.
Create a Strategy Aligned with the Direction of Where Google is Going
Google started gearing search toward advancing its AI initiatives. This is evidenced in their recent MUM Update announcement, which will help deliver more accurate search results for complex queries using an AI approach. To rank in Google, you must have high-quality content that satisfies a user’s intent. The content Google deems as best and most authoritative will surface above the competition.
In the webinar, the NP Digital team offers several strategies for outranking your competitor’s content and to align with the evolution of Google search, such as:
- Create articles that show proprietary data
- Integrate visuals into well-performing content pieces to boost their effectiveness
- Consider the outcome and purpose for each piece of content you produce
- Curate existing assets before creating new content
- Create new assets to serve a specific purpose
- Think about the outcome, where you’ll distribute and the intended audience before ideation, creation, and amplification
- Integrate a healthy mix of evergreen content with temporal content
Image courtesy of NP Digital
As NP Digital states during the webinar:
“By focusing your strategy on staying aligned with where Google is bringing search, but working within the parameters of present-day search, you can start looking forward to gains from Core Algorithm Updates.
This strategy increases the likelihood of positive swings from Core Algorithm Updates by combining our site-wide User Experience with Google’s ideal experience related to the space you’re serving.
Focus on being seen as an Expert in your content, Authority in the space, and gaining the Trust of both users & search engines.”
Be seen as an expert source to turn to in your industry to continue to surface in the SERPs regardless of whatever Google Updates. To accomplish this, NP Digital recommends your business should understand where local search strategy is most effective and needed, understand where your organic strategy is most efficient and best served, and enhance your content intentionally.