As a small business owner, you should have a reasonable understanding of SEO – at the very least, have someone on your team, that is. And one of the most critical considerations regarding SEO is the Google search algorithm changes and their effect on your business.
You may have heard of these, but what are they, and how do they impact your business?
What are Google algorithm updates?
Google algorithm updates change how Google’s search engine ranks websites.
An update can be something as small as a change in how a particular type of keyword is weighted, or it can be a significant overhaul that significantly changes the ranking of millions of websites overnight.
What small business owners need to understand is that these updates can significantly impact their website’s traffic and, in turn, their bottom line.
While there is no way to “hack” the Google algorithm or guarantee that your website will never be affected by an update, there are certain things you can do to minimize the risk. We’ll cover those later in this article.
You may have heard the terms “Panda” and “Penguin” used concerning Google algorithm updates. These are the names of two specific updates rolled out in 2011 and 2012. These are codenames that Google uses internally to refer to updates, and SEOs and web admins often use them to refer to updates.
The most recent update was in May 2022 and didn’t have a specific codename. The details are murky, but we know that it impacted a significant number of websites, both large and small.
How often Google update its algorithm.
Typically, Google will roll out a significant algorithm update once or twice yearly. However, they are constantly making minor tweaks and changes to how their search engine works – sometimes multiple times per day.
Some of these changes are so small that they go unnoticed, while others can significantly impact the visibility of websites in the search results.
You may notice slight variations in your website’s traffic daily, which is usually due to these small changes.
However, if you see a significant drop in traffic that lasts for more than a few days, a major algorithm update has likely been rolled out.
Google will often release a statement confirming an update after the fact, but they don’t usually provide details about what has changed or how it will impact websites. This can be frustrating for small business owners trying to figure out why their website’s traffic has suddenly decreased. Keeping up with other SEOs is often the best way to get information about these updates.
How will algorithm updates affect my site?
As mentioned, algorithm updates can significantly impact your website’s traffic.
The most common way that this happens is if your website is suddenly ranking much lower in the search results for specific keywords.
For example, let’s say you own a small business that sells hand-crafted jewelry. Before an algorithm update, you were ranking on the first page of Google for the keyword “handmade jewelry.”
However, after the update, you suddenly find that your website is now on the third page of the results, or even worse – not ranking at all.
This can have a major impact on your traffic and sales, as most people will never click past the first page of the search results.
In some cases, algorithm updates can also lead to your website being utterly de-indexed from Google. This means that your website will no longer appear in the search results, regardless of what keyword is used.
While this is rare, it does happen – usually due to Google determining that your website violates their guidelines.
Here’s what you can do if you drop rankings after an update.
To know if your business was penalized during an update (it happens, it’s okay), you have to know where you stand regarding ranking on Google.
What keywords do you currently rank for? Where do you rank for those keywords? An SEO can provide all of this information typically in an SEO audit. An audit is essential to understanding where you are now so you can plan for where you want to be.
If you find your rankings tanked after a formally announced update, you do have some options.
- You can do nothing. Often these updates are followed by more updates that correct some issues after the update. This usually takes a few days to a month or so. You don’t want to start making adjustments to your website only to have Google fix the issue. Then you’re back at square one. If, after a month or two, you’re still not seeing any improvement, then it’s time to take action.
- Find out what changed. The best tool to do this is Google Search Console. Check your average position and see which pages have been affected by the update. You can also check your organic traffic to see if there has been any significant drop-off since the update.
- Make changes to your website accordingly. Once you’ve determined what needs to be changed, make the necessary adjustments to your website. This could be anything from improving your content to changing how your website is structured.
- Monitor your progress. After making the changes to your website, keep an eye on your rankings and traffic to see if there is any improvement. It can take a few weeks or even a month or two for the changes to take effect, so be patient.
Don’t have the time to handle SEO on your own?
That’s alright, that’s why we’re here! We’re always available to help your small business with your SEO needs.
You can request a free consultation today and let us show you how we can help improve your website’s traffic. After all, the more traffic you have, the more sales you’ll make. And who doesn’t want that?
Google search algorithm changes and can have an effect on your business and can be tough to recover from if your website has been impacted. In these cases, it’s often best to seek the help of a professional SEO company or consultant. They can help you make the necessary changes to your website to minimize negative effects.
We have over ten years of experience helping websites recover from algorithm updates, and we can help you too! Request a free consultation today.