What to do When an Algorithm Hits

What to do When an Algorithm Hits Your Site

Ryan Roberts 2 months ago

Most people panic when they hear the words 'algorithm update', as Google can really make or break a site with the press of a button. If your site aligns with Google's guidelines there should be nothing to worry about.

So in the video below, we will cover what steps need to be taken before any algorithms roll out to monitor a site, as well as the actions you can take once an algorithm has hit. You can watch the video below, or keep reading to understand the steps you need to be taking to be 'algorithm-proof'.

Step 1: Monitor performance at all times

Here are the monitoring tools you should have set up at all times:

  • Analytics
  • Google Search Console
  • Rank tracking for key terms - There are free solutions to this such as Serpbot however we would suggest a paid solution such as Accuranker, SEMrush, AWS

If you’ve already been hit by an algorithm, it's a bit late for this advice, however these are the basics that need to be in place to really be able to monitor any changes after an algorithm. These tools are essential, especially for monitoring performance of a website and should be set up and reviewed at least a couple of times a month.

There are other tools we would suggest using which do require a paid account - Sistrix is our go to due to it’s fresh visibility data. This allows you to monitor the overall organic visibility on a daily basis across both desktop and mobile. Having this data means you don’t need to track every single keyword within your rank tracking tool, which is especially useful for a site with thousands of ranking keywords.

Step 2: What to do when the algorithm rolls out

We suggest setting up a spreadsheet to help track and monitor performance, as algorithms don't tend to roll out within a single day. Algorithms normally gradually roll out across a week or so, for example, the June algorithm took around eight days to finish.

The important thing to note, is not to panic - you may be hit initially and subsequently see an improvement again near the end of the rollout.

The first port of call is analytics data, this has to be the main data source as it tells us exactly where the impact has been. Visibility and Search Console stats can all indicate performance, but Analytics tells us exactly what's going on with traffic, conversions and revenue (if relevant).

Start looking at the trends within GA and add the data into the spreadsheet that has been set up, there are easy ways of doing this with Data Studio and APIs however for this video we will be keeping it old school with a simple spreadsheet and manual input. Start by taking the number of users via organic for each day over the last week and add them into the sheet.

Daily organic visibility via Sistrix is also a great way of keeping an eye on overall performance. Although this doesn’t directly show traffic it will provide a great insight to how rankings across the board, via desktop and mobile are performing and any noticeable shifts.

So, what happens once you know you’ve been hit by an update?

Step 3: It’s time to investigate!

When an algorithm rolls out, there are plenty of people and companies sharing data to understand what the algorithm is targeting, even Google are now providing much more information around their core algorithm updates.

We would suggest following Google SearchLiason on Twitter, as well as others such as SEroundtable, to make sure you’re always in the know.

The recent core algorithm updates are implemented to make sure searchers are finding the best websites for those queries. If you find your results have improved, then great!

But if your site has been negatively impacted by the algorithm, there are a some questions that you need to ask yourself:

  1. Would you trust the information presented on the site, if you were a user?
  2. Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  3. Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  4. Would you be comfortable giving your payment details if you were a user?
  5. Are the topics of interest to your readers/audience? Or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  6. Is your site a recognised authority on the topics discussed?
  7. Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail, or less attention to detail?

You can find this list in the blog here by Google Webmasters and their guidance on building high quality sites.

Asking yourself these questions and answering them truthfully is really important if you have been impacted - as there may be large number of changes that need making to the site. Don’t rush into it, now may be the time to really sit down, work out a new strategy and plan thoroughly, ready to recover and be prepared for the next main core update.

Those are our three tips to fixing any negative impact from an algorithm update - you can find more information on fixing traffic drops here, and please get in touch if you need more support on how to solve this issue!

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