Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 54.242.115.55

Forum Moderators: Robert Charlton & goodroi

Featured Home Page Discussion

How to Prepare For & Recover From Google Updates

     
1:52 pm on Mar 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

Administrator from US 

WebmasterWorld Administrator goodroi is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:June 21, 2004
posts:3442
votes: 335


Google makes hundreds and hundreds of updates each year. If you aren't ready you can get destroyed, heck even if you are ready you can still get destroyed depending on what they change. So let's take a moment to chat about helpful ways to prepare and respond when Google rolls out an update ... especially a huge game changing update.

Google wants to rank popular sites. So focus less on short cuts and more on building up your brand. The bigger brands get mentioned in press articles, get legit link drops from bloggers, mentions on social media and so many more benefits. This is your ultimate goal. You want to be so popular that when Google changes their algo, you don't care because most of your traffic is coming from non-Google sources. Of course that is easier to say than actually achieve.

How to make your website popular without Google?
  • Provide value that's not already on 100 other sites. Build a new tool, write a free book, create original videos, solve a problem that others ignore.
  • Work social media. Engage with your target audience. I'm not talking about fake social signals. I'm talking about developing a cult fan base. Fans will promote your website on websites, forums, and other social channels. This will drive traffic and boost your traffic generating links. If you lose your Google rankings, you might be able to survive purely on social media.
  • Cross Promote. Stop thinking about 20 year old SEO link tricks and focus more on current marketing strategy. Find relevant websites and cross promote each other. Swap content, co-sponsor contests and expose each other to your loyal fan base.
  • Patrol your content. Seek out your outdated content and refresh it. Find errors & fix them. Regularly seek out sites that steal your content and don't be afraid of using DMCA if needed. Remember you want content that solves problems and answers a real need. We aren't talking about outdated keyword matching. We are talking about your value proposition & protecting it.
  • Tech Up Your Site. Technology has greatly advanced from just a few years ago. Make sure your site is https, mobile friendly, using relevant schema and you implement other website tech best practices. Being up to date with your website tech is not a magic solution but its a good first step. Sites that aren't up to date on tech tend to also be the sites that got lazy in other critical SEO areas.
  • Don't copy bad SEO. Just because your competition is spamming Google doesn't necessarily mean you should. Your competition might be ranking despite that bad SEO and if you copy that poison you can hurt your site. Assuming its a working algo exploit, it can be fun & profitable in the short term to spam Google. Eventually Google is going to drop the hammer and sites rarely survive getting smashed by Google. How many panda or penguin sites ever recovered? Be smart and make the right choice your personal situation.
  • Save up your money. Websites cost money so make sure to spend less than you earn. When Google makes a change you will need a healthy war chest full of money to fix your content that you've ignored or to undo that link scam shortcut from 5 years ago or to hire a tech person to fix your server setup. Make sure each month you are reinvesting into your site. Websites are not ATM cash machines that eternally spit out money. If you want your website to be profitable you need to constantly reinvest into it. When Google rolls out their update, if you lose all traffic will you have enough reserves to survive the weeks or months needed to rebuild while you have no Google traffic?
  • Keep Your Hustle Strong Don't get complacent, always hustle. Data mine Google's auto complete feature, questions being posted on social media and your site's own search box queries to identify new content ideas. Being the first to produce quality content on a topic makes it easier to gain traffic since there is little to no competition. Pay attention to other industries. When you see a good idea in another industry, be the first to bring it your industry. Big established companies can have big red tape, multiple committee meetings and other headaches that slows their reaction time. If you streamline your workflow you can beat established companies to grab the traffic and become king of the hill when new opportunities come along.


When Google rolls out their next big update ... and trust me it is going to happen, be ready to respond.
  • Research your rankings & traffic. Too many webmasters still just focus on rankings. 1st - Rankings are personalized so your rankings are likely different from what I see. 2nd - Your rankings don't really matter if you aren't getting any traffic. Pay attention to the landing pages generating traffic. Tie in your search console data to get keyword data as well. This will make spotting a pattern easier.
  • Understand Google isn't your friend. They are not here to make your life easy because that would also make it easier for spammers to attach Google. To protect themselves, Google prefers rolling out multiple updates at once to make it harder for spammers to reverse engineer and exploit their ranking algorithm. Be careful not to get sidetracked with minor stuff that Google also changed to obfuscate their main update.
  • Pay attention to what Google doesn't say. Remember Google doesn't want to make it easy for spammers so they tend to be careful about what they say and don't say. Don't assume things or blindly take Google at their word. Googlers usually don't lie but they also aren't going to help you spam their search results.
  • Look at multiple niche sites. Having a network of niche sites let's you do different things on different sites. Smaller niche sites tend to have fewer moving parts which can make it less difficult to reverse engineer changes. When Google rolls out a big update you can look at your different sites to better figure out what is happening. Did Google adjust how they handle expired domains being redirected? Did Google change how they handle social media backlinks? Did Google adjust how they handle synonyms? More sites you deploy or research, the better information you will have.
  • Don't blindly follow internet gurus. Ever notice whenever there is a big Google update, the internet gurus all start claiming the problem is related to whatever product or service they are selling? The content people say you need to buy their EAT content, the link people say you need to disavow links or build links with their tool, the social people say you need to post more selfies on Facebook. Use your head and intelligently piece together all the different sources of data to make the right choice your personal situation.


How else do you prepare yourself and recover from Google updates?

PS Please remember all of this advice is YMMV. Each site is different, so use your brain to do what is best for you.
7:41 pm on Mar 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Apr 1, 2016
posts:2409
votes: 640


@aristotle, what you say make sense to some extent but I'm not sure that I fully agree.

Before I explain myself let me just make something clear. I have nothing to do with the site I referenced. My websites are not in the same niche and so I don't compete against the website. I brought it up as example because it was referenced by a "authoritative" voice in the SEO community as an example of a recovery. The website was available, plus the an analyitcs screen cap.

The article I referenced was regarding a topic I know something about, not much but enough, that is why I chose it. But once I began to read it, knowing about the topic or not was of no importance. The article was IMO bad and I would be very surprised that there isn't a far more informative and well written article on the topic.

The bottom line is that the website is referenced in SER article with a posting of a Tweet from Glenn Gabe. To be a little more specific it is a website is by a "doctor" who's name is a implement used for chopping down trees.

To summarize my point. The op states:
Provide value that's not already on 100 other sites.

Since that post, we have had an update, and this specific site recovered (not conclusive, but still) and upon inspection of the content we find the exact opposite of the quote.

Now there may not be any better websites out there (hard to believe) or unique content doesn't count for as much as many claim.
8:09 pm on Mar 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member aristotle is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Aug 4, 2008
posts:3545
votes: 327


maybe it's because there are(n't) any good sites in that sector.

Thanks tangor for correcting my typo. I have a bad habit of making that particular error all the time.
8:18 pm on Mar 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member aristotle is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Aug 4, 2008
posts:3545
votes: 327


NickMNS -- I don't disagree with what you said. My point is that there are a lot of bad articles out there.
9:18 pm on Mar 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

Administrator from US 

WebmasterWorld Administrator goodroi is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:June 21, 2004
posts:3442
votes: 335


1st - Let's all remember to never blindly take any "guru" at their word. Just because someone claims a site has recovered does not mean it has recovered or recovered from the same issue as other sites. Some gurus falsely claim a site is cured as link bait because other people will visit the self proclaimed recovered site and link back to it in news & blog coverage. Another possibility is the guru was caught spamming and had a manual penalty that was recently lifted but no one wants to admit they screwed up so they claim success with the update. Not saying this is the case here but bringing up an important tidbit to keep in mind when reading stuff online.

2nd - The site being referenced has over 1 MILLION backlinks according to Majestic. A website with a million backlinks tends to have an easier time ranking. YMMV. If we have a million backlinks we can do things differently. If we don't have a million backlinks go like getting noticed with duplicate & identical content.

3rd - We can go through any 5,000 page website and find weak content. Nothing is proven doing that. There are many ranking factors in Google's algo. Not to mention there are many penalties that could have been holding back the site which might have been removed with the last update. For all we know that site had no H1 tags or accidentally had robots.txt blocking googlebot. The site referenced also is talking about doing extensive work on an external outreach program so it doesn't sound like this isolated case is really content centric. Regardless we don't want to make assumptions after reviewing a single site. For smarter SEO insights we want to do more extensive research.

4th - Everyone can believe what they want to believe. Anyone can claim that providing unique value that satisfies users is a bad idea. Not sure why they would. That is like saying we all should use duplicate & identical content. Good luck with that. Don't invest in your website's value proposition at your own risk.
11:23 pm on Mar 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Nov 29, 2005
posts:9233
votes: 780


@aristotle ... I suspect my fat finger fast typing is extraordinarily atrocious and a laughingstock at WW. Since I do WW with JS disabled I don't/can't "edit". I am stuck with what I spewed. Sigh.

One site recovery reports are ... one site reports. goodroi makes that perfectly clear. Me? When I hear all the "I been hit!" folks at WW say "I'm Back!" then that is something to consider. Until then I take these g updates with a grain of salt and watch ... and wait ... for six months to pass. It takes that long for things to shake out.

Any early gains are generally lost two weeks later. Past experience indicates that "new normal" will be single to double digit points lower than the previous history.

The "marketplace" is so enormous, and growing larger by the MINUTE that the opportunities are diminishing in inverse just as rapidly.

ONE PREPARES for these things by being the best YOU CAN BE and having reasonable expectations. At the same time you also take all steps possible to expand your reach BEYOND g by other media, brand, and word of mouth. Fail that and one is doomed to fail, period.

OR YOU MUST BE SO UNIQUE that no one else can touch you. AND IN THAT you are so unique you will never have hordes of traffic because you are THAT UNIQUE.

Speaking of a few sites I run for companies that take up to 18 months to deliver products in a very niche INDUSTRY with products that START at single digit millions and go UP from there. Last 20 years we still have just about the same amount of traffic as the first year.

On the other hand, if you are selling widgets a bazillion others are selling (or info, or entertainment) ... expect to be "filtered", "throttled", "overlooked", "examined under a microscope", "geo-location", etc.

Not meant as negative things, just heads up that the playing field is saturated and you need to being special talent to PREPARE for g updates.

And don't do something stupid.
11:27 pm on Mar 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Nov 29, 2005
posts:9233
votes: 780


and you need to being special talent


and you need to BRING special talent

... sorry about that.
1:24 am on Mar 16, 2019 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Apr 1, 2016
posts:2409
votes: 640


@Goodroi
Anyone can claim that providing unique value that satisfies users is a bad idea.

This is not what I am claiming, although I can see how it can be perceived as such. My point is that simply providing unique high quality content is not sufficient and may not even be necessary. But I'm not suggesting that it will hurt per se.

Tangor sums it up pretty well with this statement:
OR YOU MUST BE SO UNIQUE that no one else can touch you. AND IN THAT you are so unique you will never have hordes of traffic because you are THAT UNIQUE.


For my main website I came up with an original way of deriving information about a specific entities by using publicly available data in an innovative way. When I first published this information I was the only one in my niche providing this information, it certainly helped me gain traction. But then a competitor looked at what I did, and simply took the public data and added it to their page content. No value, incomplete, and wrong. But now the competitor shows the same type of (albeit wrong) information for these entities, but to the user they are unable to distinguish between which of the two are factually correct or complete. Google certainly has no means of distinguishing which is right or wrong. Explaining the difference to the average user would likely require a dissertation, I have about 3 seconds if that to get the message across? Google shows the more popular site, my competitor's, with a big budget and massive link profile build in a few short month. Again, in this case the original high value content counts for diddly-squat.

This is in fact the same dynamic that allows fake news to propagate. Google has no way to know what is or isn't correct. Look at the knowledge graph, which is intended for "facts" things are verifiable and are discrete true or false. Even in this case they have trouble getting it right. So instead of trying to be the fact checker of the web, they use popularity as proxy. Popularity can be faked, by buying links, fake social media profile, bots and other means.

There is no way that a website like the one I referred to in my previous post could obtain over 1 Million legitimate links from actual webmasters saying, "Yeah this great content!", because objectively it sucks. It is designed and created for the sole purpose of manipulating the system.

And as I have stated myself one anecdotal example is not conclusive, but this isn't the only example there are many, and there are far fewer counter examples (I am sure they exist, I hope one day one of my sites can be held up as one. I am sure that people here at WW have sites that are counter examples but they are the rare exception)
11:18 am on Mar 16, 2019 (gmt 0)

Full Member

10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:June 4, 2005
posts:332
votes: 101


So instead of trying to be the fact checker of the web, they use popularity as proxy. Popularity can be faked, by buying links, fake social media profile, bots and other means.

There is no way that a website like the one I referred to in my previous post could obtain over 1 Million legitimate links from actual webmasters saying, "Yeah this great content!", because objectively it sucks. It is designed and created for the sole purpose of manipulating the system.
Hear, hear.
.
5:12 am on Mar 17, 2019 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Aug 9, 2017
posts: 94
votes: 11


Who here from personal experience can say that disavowing an extremely spammy backlink profile (from just natural spam + malicious negative seo) is effective after these updates? We haven't received a manual action but did lose rankings on various KWs after this update.
7:16 am on Mar 17, 2019 (gmt 0)

Full Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Mar 10, 2017
posts:294
votes: 113


I don't buy into the creating great content idea too much, but I do believe in creating great content which makes users happy and a happy user will want to link to that content and share it on social media. Well, one can hope!

I do hope that by really really really focusing on the user, creating awesome and easy to follow content (summaries, broken up into chunks, images or infographics which explain the topic) will help generate content sharing. I personally have found my attention span has shrunk in the past 20 years...and it is for this reason that I can't read long and rambling articles (get to the point), watch YouTube videos or listen to podcasts and figure a lot of other people are the same. Two of my favourite sites have switched to podcasts and YouTube and I no longer follow them.
7:34 am on Mar 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

Full Member

10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Dec 7, 2005
posts:304
votes: 47


Good OP. I agree with most of it.
This 41 message thread spans 2 pages: 41