Google announced for the first time on June 3rd that it was rolling out a new core algorithm update on Twitter via Google SearchLiason. This was a broad update to many components of the algorithm and updated over a 5 day period. Ranking fluctuations took a few days to be seen across the board from industry to industry as these updates populated in Google’s data centers.
What is a Core Update?
Since the inception of Google and search engines by large, they have constantly made efforts to try and deliver search results that are more aligned with the original intent of the query. Over the years, there have been many different algorithm updates that have been given names such a Panda or Penguin, and have focused on very specific search factors such as spammy SEO tactics with backlinking or over-optimizing pages by keyword stuffing. Recently, Google has been releasing what are known as “core” updates and rather than focusing on a specific area, it covers many different SEO ranking factors. While this is the case, typically after a few weeks and into the next months, data can be analyzed that typically shows specific industries or ranking factors that are affected more than others.
What are the Known Details of the June Core Update
Recent algorithm updates such as the August 2018 Core Algorithm Update and the March 2019 Core Algorithm Update had a minimal effect on some industries while significantly impacting others such as the medical and legal fields. This was known by some as the EAT Update, which is an acronym that stands for Expertise – Authority – Trustworthiness. The full impact of the June 2019 Core Algorithm Update will be known more in the coming months, but websites such as Daily Mail and CCN are already reporting massive hits. Others, such as Sistrix are showing big wins. Thus far, it looks like content and news websites are affected the most but we have seen keyword landscapes shift for many of our clients across a variety of industries.
What We Are Seeing One Week In
Shift in SERP Layouts:
One thing that is noticeable right off the bat is that Google is changing the layout of both local and national organic search result pages. They are moving more knowledge graphs and answer boxes to the top of results, pushing organic listings down.
Local Search Example
Local search results have shifted, pushing organic results further down which has been an ever increasing trend in the past years. As an example of the types of results populating, when searching “personal trainer atlanta”, there are ads, the local map pack, 1 organic listing, 4 answer boxes and then the remaining search results (see below screenshot). There are not any organic results above-the-fold and the chances of having a searcher click on your website have decreased. This means that structured data such as schema markup are going to start playing a more pivotal role in getting a site more exposure and trying to set content to populate in answer boxes is going to be more important as well.
Another example is layout changes for keywords with e-commerce intent. Take “gel eyeshadow” as an example. The results for this keyword has shopping feed results, Google ads, videos, answer boxes, 2 organic results, images results, and then a related query carousel that will lead to a different and related search query (see screenshot below). Of the content mentioned above in this search results page, only about 10% of what is visible from the last carousel is organic search results. This means that if you are not one of the top ranking organic results, there are even more obstacles, distractions, and opportunities for users to click on websites other than yours. ¡No Bueno! This means that it is going to be even more important for structured data to be on the website in addition to finding innovative and calculated ways to get into these other results.
June Core Update Overlap with the Diversity Update
An interesting challenge to go along with the June 2019 Core Update is that Google also released a different update at the same time. The “Diversity Update” as it is being called is focused on limiting the number of results in any given query to two results, excluding some branding results. We are already seeing this change in search results for a lot of our client’s target keywords. Let’s look at Amazon. When you Google, “Amazon”, only the first listing is for amazon.com and the remaining listings are other domains providing content about Amazon. This is a big shift that is going to show decreases for a lot of branded keywords. On the other hand, Google was smart enough to know that there are times searchers want to see multiple results from Amazon. If you search “computer products on Amazon”, it will still list many results from the amazon.com domain.
What Does This Mean
This means that keywords with multiple URLs ranking in search results, may lose real estate space and bump down to one result showing. The same is true for branded queries. This will correlate in tools such as SEMrush, AHREFS, and Moz that track organic trends and will, as a result, show a decrease in the number of ranking keywords in June. Do not be alarmed if you see this trend and rather look at organic leads and traffic if this occurs. If those are down as well, then the decrease may be related to the core update and your SEO team should dig deeper to come up with a hand full of solutions to try and mitigate these decreases.
Check back with us in a few weeks as we will be providing updates and more actionable next step and tips as more data is analyzed regarding SERP fluctuations and keyword shifts.