Yesterday, Google announced a core algorithm update. A normal Google update is nothing important – last I checked they updated their algorithms like 100 times a day (literally).
But this is different – this is a core algorithm update. Even though they happen “several times per year” (in Google’s super-precise words), they always induce mass hyperventilation in everyone who works in SEO.
The problem is that core updates tend to change how sites are ranked. When you’ve been working your butt off to get to the first page of search results only to wake up one morning and find your firm is suddenly at the bottom of page two, then you can understand why SEO people get a little anxious when Google makes a big change.
Take a minute and go check how your firm is ranking in search results (use incognito mode so it doesn’t incorporate your search history). Try “financial advisor near me,” try searching your firm’s name, try “financial advisor in [city].”
Are you still ranked where you expect? If so, that’s good (or maybe it’s bad, depending on your ranking). Set a reminder to do that again every couple days for the next week or so. Google says it can take up to two weeks for a core algorithm update to roll out.
But if your ranking has dropped, then that means your advisory firm’s site has been affected by the update and you may have some work to do.
Last year, Google put out an article to help answer some common questions around core updates. To save you some time, here are the basics of what you need to know:
If your site gets knocked, it’s not because Google is mad at you. Core updates change the way Google evaluates content, so that means something about your site doesn’t fit Google’s new standards.
Google’s analogy compares it to a “Top 100 Movies of All Time” list made in 2015. If you made that list again in 2019, you’d probably have more movies to add to the list.
I’m not crazy about that analogy because it makes it seem like they only rank sites like once a year (or less), and every time they use the same standards. A better analogy in my mind is if you made a “Top 100 Movies of All Time” list when you were 25 and then made one again when you were 50. It’s not just that there are more movies to consider at 50, what you value has essentially changed.
Google says the best way to rank highly is to “offer the best content you can.” That’s not super helpful, I know. It’s kind of like a coach giving your team a pep talk and saying, “Go out there and score more points!”
A little strategy would be nice.
Along those lines, Google offers a list of questions to help. Here are a few of them (the whole list is here):
Does the content provide original information, reporting, research or analysis?
Does the content provide a substantial, complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
If the content draws on other sources, does it avoid simply copying or rewriting those sources and instead provide substantial additional value and originality?
Does the headline and/or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?
Does the headline and/or page title avoid being exaggerating or shocking in nature?
Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
That first question is especially important to consider for advisors. Are you putting out original – meaning not white labeled – content?
If your site was affected negatively by a core update, then Google has some bad and unhelpful news: It could be a while before you recover.
Even if you started kicking out the best content on the web every single day, it could be a few months before you regain your standing. That’s not a guarantee – like I said, they’re making dozens of small updates every day – but it’s probably
So, if your company’s site was hurt by yesterday’s algorithm, here’s our advice:
Update your editorial calendar to make sure your content is good (and we mean, really good – not just “that’ll do” good)
Take a deep breath, and let go of your anxiety. There’s nothing you can do about it today. In fact, go buy your marketing team member a drink. Whether it’s your Director of First Impressions or one of your Junior Advisors (or yourself), they worked hard to get you where you were, and chances are they can do it again.
Want to talk about building an editorial calendar that can help boost your Google rankings? Drop us a line.