How to Future Proof Your Site From Algorithm Updates
The dreaded algorithm update.
One day your site is ranking at the top of Google for your keywords. And the next your site is nowhere to be found. If you notice a sharp decline in traffic, your site was likely hit with a ranking penalty.
Here is an overview of the two main algorithm updates:
- Panda: The Panda update penalises low quality sites that scrape or duplicate content from other sources while rewarding high quality sites. The update was specifically designed to target and remove instances of webspam.
- Penguin: The Penguin update targets sites that rely on tactics that are against Google’s Quality Guidelines. These include spamming links using automated tools and having heavily optimised anchor text.
If your pages are filled with low quality content or you use questionable link building methods to manipulate your rankings, your site could get hit with either of these updates. The good news is that penalties aren’t permanent and it is entirely possible to recover rankings once you cleanup your site.
Here we look at how to future proof your site from future updates.
Why Google Releases Algorithm Updates
It all comes down to quality.
Google simply cannot afford to have spam clog the front page of its search results. Otherwise its users will turn to other search engines to find information online. So Google constantly refines its ranking algorithm to deliver better and more relevant results.
Trying to game the system may deliver results in the short term.
But updates will eventually catch up to you as Google is constantly rolling out new updates and data refreshes to its algorithm. Even if your site has not yet been affected there is a good chance that a future update could cause your rankings to come crashing down.
Focus on the following two aspects to protect your site from future updates.
Create Quality Content
One of the first things you should do is conduct a content audit.
The purpose is to identify any pages that violate Google’s Quality Guidelines and note them down in a spreadsheet. Then either have them removed or completely rewritten. All it takes is a few pages of low quality content to affect your entire site.
Moving forward, focus on creating quality content that provide value to your audience. It is definitely easier said than done so here are the main ingredients that make up great content:
- Original: Great content is unique and original, not copied from other sources. When writing new content, think about a fresh angle that you can take.
- Actionable: The best posts are those that comprehensively cover a topic and provide actionable tips. Think about common questions in your industry and write posts that cover them in detail.
- Well researched: Anytime you make a claim within your content you should link to a reputable resource that backs it up.
Be sure to also include images within your content to increase engagement.
Build Quality Links From Relevant Sources
Even if you remove low quality content, your site could still get penalised by the Penguin update. This update penalises sites that use questionable tactics such as:
- Building links using automated tools
- Buying links from spammy networks
- Engaging in mass link exchanges
- Heavily optimising anchor text
What Google is looking for is a link profile that looks natural. It raises a major red flag if your site suddenly has a major influx of links from the same source or with the same anchor text. Use a tool such as ahrefs to track and analyse your backlinks. Identify links from questionable sources and take steps to get them removed.
In the meantime, focus your efforts on building quality links from relevant sources.
If your site was recently penalised by either the Panda or Penguin ranking update, the good news is that you can still recover your rankings. Conduct a content audit and either remove or completely rewrite low quality pages. Then take steps to remove links from questionable sources. Moving forward, focus your efforts on producing quality content and building links from reputable sites. Taking these steps will help protect your site against future algorithm updates.