Google update is a way Google makes progress on its mission to serve users only needs-satisfying contents. Sometimes top ranking pages get kicked in the butt by such updates. Google makes nothing less than 600 updates in a year; that’s a lot.
Some of the updates Google makes to its algorithm are either short term or long term. Short term Google updates are done for experimental purposes and are reversed within the shortest possible time. The long term changes tend to stick around indefinitely.
Search Engine Optimizers (SEOs) and content marketers in general try to keep abreast with algorithm update trends in a bid to stay afloat in case of any drastic change. As bright as that idea sounds the cold hard fact about Google updates is that sometimes they can hit you without warning. If you do not know what to do when it happens, you could literally be shot to the bottom of the sea with no chance of survival.
The only smart choice left to you as a website owner or an SEO is to know what to do if you lose your traffic after a Google update.
What to Do if You Lose Your Traffic after a Google Update
Just like every other real life situation, you can never know the solution unless you know what the problem is. At this juncture, you might as well note that there are a number of other reasons apart from a Google algorithm update why you may experience a drop in organic traffic. Such other reasons could be lost backlinks, Google penalties, seasonal fluctuations and website related changes among other reasons.
However, there are ways you can verify if indeed an algorithm update was responsible for your lowered ranking and subsequently decrease in organic traffic volume. Google Analytics and Google Search Console are two great tools that can help you to make a preliminary assessment of what has happened.
If the timing of the drop of your organic traffic coincided with the timing of a recent known Google Algorithm update, then an algorithm update is a likely culprit. If a check of your stats shows a disparity from what it was in time past, say a previous month or around the same time last year, you just might have found your proof that you were tanked by an algorithm update.
To be double sure, try to cross-reference the timing of your drop in organic traffic against this Google Algorithm update resource to know if there’s a correlation.
Other signs to look out for when you suspect a Google algorithm update include:
- An unexplained large volume drop in organic traffic especially if you have not used any black hat SEO strategy.
- No issued penalty in Google Search Console
- Multiple drop in top ranking pages
- Well performing pages suddenly stops getting traffic
Now that you know that it is an algorithm update related organic traffic drop, what are you going to do?
We’re now going to delve into solutions to your organic traffic drop as a result of a recent Google algorithm update.
How to Fix Your Lost Traffic after a Google Update
After you have confirmed that your once massive organic traffic volume has been depopulated by a recent Google algorithm update, you are to make conscious but calculated efforts to restore things back to normal. One thing to keep in mind at this point is not to make frantic changes that could worsen the situation at hand.
It might be helpful to wait a while like a few days or weeks before reacting to any Google update. That way, you know if it is an experimental move or a long term one. Waiting a while to react will also give you enough time to assess the extent of the damage and how best to react.
SEL has this to say about Google algorithm update:
. . .the smart thing to do is wait and see if your site has been impacted. More often than not, if you are doing SEO the right way, your site was probably not impacted negatively (and you could even see a boost).
That being said, we’ll now discuss in detail what to do if you lose traffic after a Google update.
1. Refer to Unaffected Pages
You should consider undoing any recent change that you suspect could be responsible for the nosedive in organic traffic volume.
If you have pages whose ranking were not affected by a recent algorithm update, you should refer to them to try to find out what you must have done right. When you do, try to modify affected pages to vibe like the unaffected pages.
2. Spy on Ranking Competitors
If you were ranking above your industry competitors before what you’ve now identified as an algorithm update that tanked you, you should take a critical look into what the now ranking competitors are doing right that is making them rank. Some people call this reverse engineering while some others call it competitor research. What you decide to call it is not as important as what it is in the real sense of it.
This step involves spying on your competitor’s online strategy to understand why they are now ranking after an algorithm update. A simple way to do this is to figure out what the top 3 websites now ranking for your big keywords have in common. When you find this missing link, you can then go on to make commensurate changes to your previously ranking web pages.
3. Quality Backlink Building
Part of your backlinking efforts after a recent algorithm update has affected your ranking on Google should be to build backlinks from websites or more specifically web pages that were not affected by the update. The rationale here is that there’s a good reason such web pages were not affected by the recent update. Gaining a backlink from such sites at this point will be an ideal high quality backlink for you.
In addition to that, researching into the backlink profile of the top 3 ranking websites in your niche as suggested in the competitors’ spying strategy will help you gain valuable insights for your link building purposes.
4. Update Your Page 2 and 3 Pages
Where is the best place to hide a dead body on Google? On page 2 and 3 of search engine result pages (SERPs). Most people never really click past page 1 of SERPs. 91.5% of search engine click throughs occur on page 1 of search results.
Even though pages 2 and 3 of SERPs are still considered burial grounds for web pages, pages sitting on them do have potential and can be resuscitated. You can use ahrefs rank tracker tool to identify what pages of yours are buried in page 2 and 3 of Google search results. When you’ve found such pages, you’re to optimize and update them for relevant keywords and cheer them on as they hustle their way into page 1.
5. Work on Identified SEO Errors
Use any of your favourite SEO tools to identify errors with your now deranked web pages and make efforts to fix them.
Although SEO tools can churn out a gazillion problems if you listen to them but all you need to do is to fix the actual problems among them.
6. Create Fresh Optimized Contents
While some Google algorithm updates come without prior notice or a latter announcement, you can always bank on the number 1 point above to find the missing link. When you have found out why the new web pages are ranking, you may create fresh contents in line with the secret ingredient that you’ve found. It is important to avoid keyword cannibalization in the process of trying to create new contents having similar keywords with contents previously published on your site.
7. Update Old Pages
If at the end of the day, you arrive at the conclusion that your page ranking have been greatly affected by a Google update, the logical thing to do would be to attempt to fix things, right?
Following the outcome of your spying on the current top 3 sites ranking in your niche, you should make efforts to fix your formerly ranking pages, giving them a second chance to rank again. Part of your page fixing effort could involve updating your site structure, building more quality backlinks, reviewing your URL structure etc. What needs to be done ultimately depends on the missing ingredient that you find.
While it is advisable that you attempt to fix your ranking when things go awfully wrong, you should also avoid making a lot of radical changes within a short space of time. Going that way could create problems for you in tracking which of the changes you’ve made actually fixed the problem.
And again, one important thing to note about algorithm change is that sometimes they are reversed within a short period of time. In some other cases, if you are unlucky with a particular algorithm change, you might be lucky with the next.
We hope you’ve found this guide on what to do if you lose your traffic after a Google update.