On May 4th Google announced they had started to roll out a core algorithm update, which they stated would take about one or two weeks to fully roll out.
This is the first major update announced since January earlier this year, and is an interesting decision given the current global crisis.
Hopefully this update has had a positive impact on your search engine performance, but if not don’t worry, in this post we’ll help you understand what a core algorithm update is and how you can respond to ensure your site is performing optimally.
What is a core update?
Google is constantly making updates to its algorithms in order to improve the quality of the search results.
The large majority of these are minor tweaks which are unannounced and do not tend to cause major disruption to the search results, but sometimes the updates are more noticeable, and broader than just minor adjustments.
These are core updates, the ones that Google thinks might produce some ‘widely notable effects’.
Because they will likely affect a wide range of sites, Google lets people know when they roll out one of these updates, so people don’t panic and think their site has been hit by a penalty.
Some of these updates are more specific about what’s changing, a great example of this is the speed update a couple of years back – webmasters were given plenty of notice of this change.
If a webmaster was affected by this change they would know they needed to improve the speed of their site.
However, sometimes the changes are general, and it’s not quite clear as to why Google has improved one site’s rankings over another’s.
What is the purpose of core updates?
Google is constantly attempting to promote the best content for a given search query, even if they don’t always succeed.
These core updates function almost as a reassessment of what Google counts as good content. It’s for this reason you shouldn’t panic if your site sees a slight drop in rankings.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that Google thinks your site is low quality, or worthy of a penalty. It has just judged that another site’s content is more deserving of a higher ranking.
It’s too early to tell what the specific purpose of this update is. Sites across a broad range of industries have seen changes in their rankings including sites in the storage industry, so it doesn’t seem to be targeted at a specific niche.
There doesn’t yet appear to be a connection between which sites have seen improvements, and which haven’t. This is something that will hopefully become clearer as the update continues to roll out.
What should you do?
While SEO’s will no doubt be trying to reverse engineer the algorithm update over the coming weeks, the advice from Google is the same as always, focus on improving your content to make it as useful a resource as possible.
Google has detailed a list of questions you should be asking about your content on the core updates page.
While a lot of these questions are great, it can be hard to apply them to pages related to storage. For the most part, the pages that rank are not a holy grail of storage related answers, but more a location page to display information about your site’s service and offering.
However, there are some questions that quite clearly apply, which we have highlighted below:
- Does content display well for mobile devices when viewed on them?
- Is the content free from spelling or stylistic issues?
- Is the content free from easily-verified factual errors?
- Would you feel comfortable trusting this content for issues relating to your money or your life?
- Does the content provide a substantial, complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
While some of these are obvious (check for spelling errors), some are worth revisiting to ensure your content is as relevant as possible.
Here’s a few suggestions to get started in response to this update:
Reviewing your mobile performance
The percentage of searches carried out on mobile devices is often underestimated.
For a lot of storage businesses, everything is run using desktop devices and this can lead to a sort of mental bias, where the desktop version of a website is given a disproportionate amount of focus than the mobile version.
But this isn’t the way your customers interact with you. Don’t forget, the website is there for your customers – how they use it should drive your decisions.
Ensuring your site functions well on mobile is vital. A good place to check your current performance is Google’s Mobile Friendly Test tool.
While you’re at it you may as well run a page speed test and check the performance on mobile compared to desktop.
Review any errors
Here’s a great opportunity to check the information on your site is accurate and up to date.
Consistency is important for local SEO, and ensuring that all your details are correct and consistent across your website, your Google My Business listing and other mentions of your business across the web is vital.
Even small changes can affect how Google reviews the reliability of your information. Use a consistent address, ensure your phone numbers are correctly formatted and make sure your opening hours match up.
You could also ensure you have done your best to notify customers of any disruption caused by coronavirus (check our COVID-19 post for more information on that subject).
Trustworthiness is important for all sites, but especially those that deal with financial or health related topics.
As a lot of self storage businesses deal with prices on their site, it’s conceivable that trustworthiness would be an area of concern on these pages.
There’s a lot you can do to improve this area – here’s some key things you can check right now.
HTTPS – ensuring your site is on https is essential. It adds an additional layer of security to interactions with your website, and as customers become more familiar with the padlock icon it can increase trust in your site (check out our post on https for more information).
Refunds policy – if you accept transactions on your website, it’s a good idea to have some information that explains the refunds policy for any services purchased.
Industry bodies / review sites – displaying badges of any trade associations you are part of, or any third party reviews on your website can have a positive impact on the perceived trustworthiness of your site.
FAQs – Frequently asked questions can be a great way of adding additional content to your pages which also increases the perceived trustworthiness and relevance. Try and tailor the questions to each location to make sure the information is really relevant.
Monitor Your Performance
In this post we’ve covered quite a few areas you can work on to survive and thrive after this latest core update.
When big updates like this are rolled out, it’s important to keep an eye on your performance in the search results, to try and understand the impact they have on your site.
Ensuring your website is optimized for a good user experience across all devices (don’t ignore mobile) is essential for anyone looking to run an effective storage business going forward.
We hope you found this post useful, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us, and don’t forget to sign up to our mailing list to get our latest updates sent straight to your inbox.