March 12 saw Google release a core algorithm update, the first of several expected for 2019. Online chatter preceded the release in the days prior, and it was confirmed by Google on March 14. Dubbed by those in the know as the “March 2019 Core Update”, it’s an update that Google considers to be noticeable, but it’s not its biggest in recent times by any stretch.
With any update of this nature, one that’s implemented in order to improve search results for the end user, there will be some websites that benefit from the algorithm change while others will be affected negatively. So what is the fallout from this update?
It needs to be said from the outset that Google doesn’t reveal details about their updates; search engine experts will typically analyse results from websites to look for any trends, whether there’s a commonality between the types of websites possibly being targeted, the quality of the content, or any number of other potential factors.
What has been determined following this update is that Google appears to be tweaking its results for search queries that pertain to potentially sensitive issues, such as health related queries. An update back in August 2018 saw many websites in the health / fitness / wellness / medical space affected – some positively, others negatively. The March 2019 update saw some websites that were negatively affected make up some positive ground, while others saw no recovery and others even lost more rankings.
According to expert analysis, niche pages – those dedicated to a singular topic or limited subject matter – were also hit hard by the update. It’s believed that this is because Google have decided to instead reward sites that encourage maximum time spent on site, have lower bounce rates and get greater page views per visit.
The Next Step
SEO guru Barry Schwartz conducted a study of 300 websites after the March 12 update to determine which sites were affected and what fixes worked (if any) to recover lost rankings. The most commonly used approaches to restoring lost rankings included:
- Improving content
- Improving technical SEO
- Improving user experience
However, the key takeaway − largely because the update wasn’t a major game changer − is that websites should simply continue applying commonly known SEO best practice techniques. This includes writing and publishing content that’s valuable and credible, and providing end users with an experience that’s positive, functional and encourages repeat visits. With those taken care of, you’re on your way to building optimal brand trust and credibility, which is one of the biggest assets your business and website could possibly enjoy.