The Google June 2019 Core Update nailed many websites. Big shots like Daily Mail saw their web traffic decrease by half. In my LinkedIn article, Surviving Google’s 2019 Core Update, I also talked about CCN, the cryptocurrency news site, that stated it was going to have to shut down because of the update.
What’s interesting is that SEOs, like myself, have had to do some digging to figure out exactly how extensive this update is. Google hasn’t given a significant amount of insight on this update as they did with the massive Panda and Penguin updates. However, Google’s John Mueller was asked what to do if a site is suffering a significant traffic loss. Of course, Google has made it very clear that there is no direct fix or major changes to lower the impact. Here at the Gillenwater Group, we already had an idea of what was going on and Google’s John Mueller pretty much verified it with this statement:
Relevancy and quality go hand-in-hand. Also, we noticed keywords dropping out of the top 50 in some niches and that is relevancy-related. The websites our business has built has high content quality ratings, but the change in keywords put us in keyword research mode for the purpose of refreshing content. Refreshes are good anyway because you want your website to always be relevant. While we are fans of “evergreen content,” updating is always a win. This is something that is echoed by the following statement by Mueller:
In other words, you can’t build a website or have one built that stays the same all of the time. Algorithm updates happen. With this last one, some top 10 sites, particularly in the gambling and financial niches, were knocked down 70+ spaces. Health and retail followed.
Does this mean SEO is irrelevant?
Heck no! What this means is that we have to shift with the changes. Every update makes SEO even more important because ranking practices have to evolve with the changes. We figure them out and then we work your site to be more in agreeance with what the search engine wants. That’s why you hear the word “analytics” come out of our mouths so much.
But Wait…there’s More: The June Diversity Update
In addition, this core update overlapped with a diversity update. The purpose of this update is to better diversify Google results. For years, SEOs have complained that Google shows too many listings from the same domain name, thus knocking down actual business sites. Think along the lines of Yellow Pages, Yelp, and others that provide listings of businesses that aren’t always up-to-date. There’s nothing more frustrating in the world of SEO than to have a website that is a legitimate top 10 be knocked down by 4 or 5 listings from Yellow Pages that might not be current anyway. Now, same-domain listings are going to be limited to two and that’s good news for small and medium businesses trying to move up a page.
But there’s a catch.
Google says that it reserves the right to show more than two results from the same domain when it’s relevant to do so. A good example of this would be for a branded query. If you search for something from eBay, you are going to see more than two results from eBay.com.
Sub-domains will also be treated as part of the primary domain. If you have blog.mysite.com, it will be part of your www.mysite.com domain and apply toward the two results. Again, it’s Google’s right to display relevant results as they see fit.
Only core results are affected by this update. What this means is that top stories, image carousels, vertical search features, and video snippets aren’t affected.
Now, More About That Core Update
Why should you even care about it?
Well, when Google issues a large update like this, it affects traffic. Analytics go wild. When updates overlap like the June 2019 Core Update and the Diversity Update, it can be difficult to figure out which update influenced what ranking factors. As I mentioned earlier, keyword trends changed. I looked at that and knew that it was the core update because a diversity update like this one isn’t going to impact keywords.
A good SEO can identify differences between overlapping updates.
Basically, a whole new precedent was set with the core update because, for one, Google announced that it was happening. Of course, they didn’t say exactly what changes were being made. They really can’t divulge this information because too many people will get ahead of the update and that can have an impact on the purity of search results. Unfortunately, black hat SEO tactics still exist and that means that there are people that manipulate the system to rank unfairly rather than fairly. Google has penalties for this, though, which is great. A site that is using black hat tactics can be blacklisted and it’s VERY hard to get off of that list.
Here are a couple more things noticed about the update:
- Video Carousels Have Increased – The layout of the search engine results page (SERP) is important. In June 2018, video carousels were rolled out for a lot of searches. This change caused YouTube’s visibility to increase by 25% in a single week. Something similar is happening with the June 2019 Core update as evidenced by the above graph published by Search Metrics.
- Low Quality is a No Go – It also appears that low-quality news sites are being hit hard. This is evidence that Google is raising the bar on content quality. Google hasn’t always been transparent in this regard, but they do have a content quality guide that gives some guidance on what to do and what not to do when it comes to content.
Did Your Site See a Drop?
If you noticed that your website’s ranking dropped, don’t panic. A good site analysis can go a long way. Many of Google’s ranking factors, such as speed, haven’t changed. However, content quality, keywords used, and the overall flow of the website are important.
Using our crawling software, we’re able to see what Google sees and then implement fixes so your site quality, speed, and overall functionality improves. We specialize in both on-page and off-page SEO.
So, don’t panic because we can help you out. Yes, SEO is a marathon rather than a sprint, but you can get to the front of the pack with the right strategy in place.