Algorithm Updates – A So-Called Second Edition to Google Florida
On March 12, 2019, Google launched what many considered its most transformative’ update since Florida in 2003, and the occurrence was confirmed in a Tweet by Google’s own Danny Sullivan. The first major algorithm update occurred over 15 years prior and earned its handle during hurricane season when the letter “F” was up next, and the annual Florida Pubcon SEO marketing conference was scheduled just weeks away. Many felt the update was aptly named for the way it would shake up search engine optimization (SEO) marketing in a hurricane-like fashion to weed out unethical black-hat tactics like hidden text and links and keyword-stuffing in favor of recognizing and rewarding white-hat tactics, including good content and prioritizing users’ needs.
The Florida 2 Update, or the Google-preferred title of the “March 2019 Core Update”, is said to be more like a reversal of former updates. The main purpose of the most recent changes has been to improve the search engine’s results, which help Google to maintain its status as the number one search engine in the world. Google rolled out the algorithm update on a large scale, affecting every country in which it is featured. It is unclear why, but a few European countries – Germany, France, and Italy – received the update about a day later than the rest of the world.
Google and SEO Metrics
Google has largely remained tight-lipped on how their algorithms perform analyses on online content. Their stance is that content should be focused on Google users or those who use the program as a search engine. Following the March 2019 broad core algorithm update, many individual SEO digital marketing firms performed their own examinations to determine how the metrics of various web pages changed. It does not appear that Google penalized pages regarding the word count of their content or title tags, the HTML code that includes the title of web pages, or backlinks. Google appears to have singled out web pages with everyday annoyances, like constant pop-up ads, lengthy drop-down menus, and poorly written content. Sites may have been negatively impacted if it was determined their tactics were a hindrance rather than a help to site visitors. The update did not necessarily group domains and subdomains equally, as subdomains that performed poorly were ranked lower than their parent websites.
August 2018 – Medic Update
During the week of August 1, 2018, Google launched a broad core algorithm update nicknamed “Medic”, as it initially appeared to target health websites. It was later learned that payday loan websites were also hit hard. One suggestion is that Google has specifically aimed at blocking false material and that which is unethical from the rankings, though the answer may be simpler. Google algorithm updates occur almost daily to ensure good content helps trusted sites rank well. The broad core ranking update often goes unnoticed because they do not enact sweeping changes that affect large industries or site issues that can be conclusively analyzed.
Plastic surgeons have a unique niche within the medical community. Many surgeons post duplicate content, often citing sources and research, not realizing that this tactic may be effective in medical journals, but it does not benefit their site traffic. With duplicate content, site visitors may recognize familiar words, contributing to limited page views and bounce rates. Google will also penalize these sites for not having original content and encouraging organic traffic to the site.
Plastic surgery practices can boost their Google rankings by posting videos with transcripts, adding infographics to their site, using search terms in schema markup, and by regularly updating their content. Blog entries are a great way to add fresh content to a page, and present patients with current information. Surgeon’s Advisor has been working with plastic surgery practices for nearly 15 years and have been able to help their clients rank through Google by remaining at the forefront of ever-changing algorithms. By recognizing users’ search intent, the company has geared website content around the specific needs of patients interested in elective surgery.
The Search Engine Roundtable and Useful Data
Since 2003, the Search Engine Roundtable website has been analyzing data relative to SEO practices. As one of the most popular references sits in the business, the Roundtable collected more than 500 responses to the March 2019 Core Update. Information was also documented following the August 2018 that website owner Barry Schwartz himself named Medic. The recent March changes did not impact health sites in the same way as the year prior. Schwartz’s poll determined that his responders were largely negatively impacted by the Core Update and did not recover from the previous core update. Like many experts in the field, Schwartz recommends continuing to create good websites to attain a high rank in Google searches.
Tips from the SEO Pros
While there may not be a way to predict core algorithm updates, there are some tactics that might be useful for future events.
- Subscribe to Google Alerts for the terms “Google algorithm”
- Know that changes will not likely be permanent due to continuous updates.
- Follow Google’s advice and create webpages with good, original content as well as proven methods for a well-optimized page: a large amount of content, titles and alt tags, and schema markup.