What SEO’s Do When Website Traffic is Affected by a Google Update

What SEO’s Do When Website Traffic is Affected by a Google Update

Are you facing a sudden drop in website traffic in a recent search algorithm update. Get down the article below to know the action items to determine while your Google traffic is dropped.

When Google performs an algorithm update, it can affect the ranking factors for SEO. This is especially true if the changes that have been rolled out are considered a core update. BERT, Penguin, and Panda are just some of the core updates that have been implemented by Google throughout the years.

While these changes are geared towards improving the performance of Google’s algorithm, they can be quite disruptive for a website’s ranking. After all, a core update will add or remove existing foundations that you have been using to increase your site’s ranking.

One example is the Panda update that brought with it an algorithmic penalty to sites with thin content. Another is the Medic update intended to improve sites focusing on health and medicine. However, other sectors like finance and education were also affected. In fact, small and medium sites were hit so hard that they were forced to close down due to the lost traffic and visibility. This update later evolved into BERT, a major update that eventually affected all industries. 

Thus, it’s always a good idea to prepare yourself for these inevitable changes. The question is how? What action item after a Google algorithm update can you do to mitigate the negative changes imposed by these roll-outs? How soon should you implement them? 

1. Analyze your metrics

The first thing to do when a Google algorithm update rolls out is to analyze your site’s metrics. Clicks, traffic, impression, targeted keywords, and your site’s position are factors you need to assess. Of course, what tools you’re going to use depends entirely on what metrics you’re trying to evaluate.

For instance, let’s say you want to assess if the Google algorithm update affected your targeted keywords.

Moz and SEMRush are two of the best tools to use for this approach. If your page that’s been targeting specific keywords lost ground, don’t do anything immediately. Rather, continue assessing its position to see if the changes are sticking. It might take you a few weeks or a full month but don’t do anything drastic just yet.

The changes might not be due to the update. It might be that your competitors are using new and effective marketing strategies that you might not be employing. In short, don’t panic. Analyze your metrics first then act accordingly. 

2. Review the update

As with any update, Google won’t be fully transparent about what kind of changes it will bring. As such, a lot of content will start flooding the web regarding analysis and evaluation of these changes in an attempt to decode them. That means varying assessments about the update, which could be more confusing rather than helpful.

However, there are industry leaders who have proven themselves through the years with their knowledge and insight. Search Engine Land, Search Engine Roundtable, Moz, and SEMRush are just some of the sources you can follow to truly get a bigger picture of what the update brings. 

3. Did the update severely affect ranking factors for SEO?

Google algorithm updates don’t necessarily mean it will disrupt the overall ranking of all the sites in its SERP (search engine result page). A core update will definitely do that, yes. However, minor updates are more common and do not severely affect a site’s position.

One recent example we can look at is the Passage Indexing update. In a nutshell, this minor update allows Google to pull sections of a page if that specific section answers a user’s query. As a result, it improves user experience by directly answering the search as the user doesn’t have to go through the entire content to get a specific explanation.

While this update isn’t a major one, you should definitely take advantage of it. Why? Because you can outrank your competitors by conforming to these changes. One of the best ways to do that is to prioritize long-form content, which allows you to cover more ground and answer multiple queries from different users.

In short, even if the update didn’t massively disrupt your rankings, you should find ways of using it to boost your site. By doing so, you can get ahead of the competition even if the benefit is a minor advantage.

4. Apply changes on page that were affected

Once you analyze your site’s metrics and spot a page that got affected, it’s time to implement necessary tweaks. The question is what area needs improvement? And what specific improvement are you going to implement?

Google has always said that it prioritizes user experience above everything else. So it’s unsurprising that it always pushes quality, site presentation, information trustworthiness, and individual authority regardless of the update it just rolled out.  

Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Write long-form, informative content
  • Ensure your site is loading quickly (Google said it should load under two seconds)
  • Fix broken links
  • Insert relevant and engaging images
  • Optimize your site for mobile users
  • Fix disruptive ads
  • Avoid spamming links 

As mentioned earlier, you don’t have to implement all these changes. What you need to do is identify areas that need improvement to signal Google that you are a site committed to improving user experience. This brings us to our next point. 

5. Optimize for SEO

Regardless of the update that Google rolled out, SEO should always remain one of your core foundations. And to do that, you’ll need to follow some of these guidelines. 

Search Intent

You should ways align each content of your page to the search intent of a user. And this intent is divided into four categories:

  • Informational – a user wants an answer to a specific query
  • Navigational – a user wants to find a website
  • Commercial – a user is trying to compare products to help with their final purchase
  • Transactional – a user is ready to purchase a product or service

When you align your content with specific user intent, it will help your site rank higher on the SERP. That’s because Google will recognize your site as a domain that helps users. This is doubly important with the aforementioned Passage Indexing update that will help Google’s algorithm better understand search intent.

Moreover, aligning a page’s content to a user’s intent fulfills what’s known as micro-moments. Put simply, this is a person’s fleeting desire to accomplish something. And this is again rooted in the four intent listed above.

By structuring content around this psychological phenomenon, you’re putting your site to the forefront that fulfills this very need. As a result, Google will move your site higher on the SERP. 

Compress and optimize images

The size of your images plays a large part in how fast it loads. The larger the file, the longer your site will load. What’s more, you should determine the best image format to use. JPEGs are best used for photographs, while PNG is superior when the image contains text and line drawings.   

Internal links are links that point to another page inside your site. This practice allows Google to determine the relationship of Page A to Page B. Moreover, a page with a high PageRank score will boost a new page’s position through this connection.

Not only that, but it’ll also improve a user’s experience on your site. Let’s say one of your pages talks about Chadwick Boseman’s death. Specifically, how his death affects Marvel’s plans on the Black Panther franchise and the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole.

Now, if you have a page that talks about what caused Boseman’s death, you can link that to your new one. That way, anyone who’s unaware or needs a refresher about the situation can easily jump to the next page to get the details.

It’ll also be easier for you to find the next angle when writing about the same subject. Perhaps your next piece will focus on who’s going to replace Boseman. Or maybe you’ll explore the possibility of other characters taking the Black Panther mantle.

Improve your content

 This isn’t just confined to the information you’re trying to provide. Improving your content means structure, readability, white space, using active voice, inserting transition words and so much more.

All of these play a crucial role in gripping your audience's attention until they’ve consumed the entire piece. This is especially useful for long-form content where the slightest break on your reader’s flow will result in them leaving your site.


These are action items after a Google algorithm update you can do to help your site recover if it’s been negatively affected by the changes. But as mentioned earlier, before you implement any alterations, always analyze the situation first.

And of course, if you prioritize positive user experience and quality content above everything else, you will always stay on the right track. This is regardless of the updates Google will roll out.

This post was submitted by a TNS experts. Check out our Contributor page for details about how you can share your ideas on digital marketing, SEO, social media, growth hacking and content marketing with our audience.

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