Quite often you will update your site and have little or no effect to the page rankings in the short term and any organic search result gain is something your work improves over time.
Usually any changes you make to your website will cause Google to re-assess your content, URLs and other ranking factors especially if you move the site to a new content management system. This so-called Google “dance” can have little/no effect on your site traffic or can result in nearly all pages being re-indexed and thus causing a drop in search position and loss of traffic whilst Google re-evaluates your entire website.
Whilst moving to WordPress will usually have a positive effect in the longer term, it’s quite often the case that many pages will drop before coming back either in a similar place or stronger, depending on the content and historic traffic.
However there’s a slightly more fundamental issue that has occured in the past few weeks and why many people are seeing a large change to their organic traffic.
Why am I seeing a dip in organic search rank since January?
Google made a significant change to the core ranking algorithm mid January; having reviewed many of our sites data and now we have had time to analyse several key data gathering sites to compare our results it seems Google has made one of the most significant changes to it’s search results in quite some time and this happened for Google.com towards Mid January and was rolled out to other Google search sites (.co.uk) thereafter.
Google rarely confirms core algorithm updates but did so via Twitter mid January 2016, which is a major announcement for Google to go on record and tell website owners that organic search changes was related to the core update.
We have waited to see if this has had any knock on effect as Google often update .com search results before rolling out to other regional Google search results and sometimes even roll the changes back again. However, we suspect they updated .co.uk results sometime shortly thereafter and we started to see the effects of this change to Google Core Algorithm from the end of Jan.
A lot of sites with losses in ranking are those with websites that have older content pieces that had ranked for keywords for many months/years without any change to that content. Historic content with poor overall optimisation that relied on “grandfather effect” (historic ranking), historic back links and little or no on page optimisation.
To put these losses into context it is interesting to see who has “won” better search results and it seems that if Google is now rewarding website’s with fresh, updated and new content that is most relevant to the search terms, that has high relevance to user intent and has content that is shared socially.
Sites with current and up to date “holistic content”, content that covers a whole topic and covers the topic in depth and may include sub-topics and allied information. According to data shared elsewhere gq.com has seen significant increases and their biggest winning URL is an “article” about NFL star Tom Brady. The article contains photos and a video and a lot of text ( 3000 words plus as well as an interview). A test with Content Optimization software shows that the article covers all important subtopics about the entity “Tom Brady” and gives users a wide amount of topic specific information.
TOP TIP: Having a good amount of on-topic content that is updated regularly is now key to ranking well – no excuses.
What do we do if our page topics remains static over time?
Your topic remains static but the user intent will be a major factor, and that can change and thus has to be addressed. User intent is now a massively increased driver of rank, we have said this many times – intent is everything. What is the user’s intent for looking for a page? To answer a questions, solve a problem, understand a topic, get further details, buy something, interact with someone or something that moves them forward to some degree.
If you answer the search intent then you can expect a good organic ranking for the content, otherwise Google is now ignoring your content.
It would seem that Google is also looking at user interaction as a key factor as to whether a page answers the users intent. Consider this “real-world” example:
You go into a shop, don’t pick anything up or interact with the staff and leave without doing anything inside a minute. It is probably fair to say your have a low intent to buy and were not engaged by the “content” you found in the shop.
However, if you went into the shop, asked about several items, tried them on/tested them and then left your details with a sales assistant then it is fair to say that the shop had good engagement and you had a high intent to buy.
The same with your website…
So once visitors are on your site for a specific search term if you do not provide them with any content that is worthy of interaction (including time spent reading) relevant to the search term that bought them there, and they do not interact with the page content then how Google will in all likelihood decide the page content is not answering the user’s intent? Especially if a large percentage of people do nothing when on that page or they leave site completely shortly after landing on that page, if that’s the case then you cannot expect the page to rank well.
The takeaway is
- Comprehensive content that is fresh
- Filled with on-topic information
- Uses Video and Photos
- Provides interactive content
- Gives good sub-topic coverage
- Contains 1500+ words
But sheer quantity of content is not decisive for a good rank, the content HAS to be relevant and fulfil the user intention when visiting the page otherwise expect to lose search position.
In summary, the quality and quantity of the content is key for organic ranking improvements as well as how well it fulfils the visitors intent.
Try this test:
- Go to Google, and type in your best key search term
- Look at the top three pages in the organic search results
- Compare your key pages to those top 3 pages
- What do they have that you do not have?
When you want to rank well then you HAVE to write a LOT of great content, with interactive elements that users can show their approval of the content and that it meets their intent.
Leave you comments below and tell me how this article meets with your intent?!