We have long been saying that 2020 will be the start of some significant changes in the online digital marketing landscape. So far, that news is proving to be very true. Many companies and sites around the world are reporting huge fluctuations in their rankings and organic traffic in recent months.
Google SERPs are all over the place, with search results experiencing numerous algorithm updates, layout alterations, and extreme changes. As more updates continue to roll out, it seems that many sites are being affected by previous and new changes. Company websites of all sizes are just starting to feel these effects and are reporting as much as 40% drops in organic traffic.
Below is an overview of what is happening with organic traffic and Google SERPs. Here’s what you need to do to keep your site up-to-date and within Google’s guidelines and technical standards in 2020 and onwards.
Summary of Most Recent Google Fluctuations
As of February 2020, the most recent SERP and organic traffic fluctuations happened around the 8th, 9th, and 10th of February. Websites and their pages experienced significant changes in traffic and SERP rankings in Google search results. The SEO industry was buzzing like crazy when numerous reports started emerging online of websites experiencing drastic spikes and drops in their organic traffic.
Here are some facts:
- Google didn’t announce or confirm any scheduled updates in that timeframe.
- Google officially stated that there was no Core Update on the 13th of February.
- Fluctuations affected numerous niches and websites of various sizes and profiles
- Some websites noted a dip then a rise in traffic – this could be a sign of Google testing
- Not everyone was affected by these updates. A decent amount of websites reported no changes in traffic or SERP rankings.
Not A Result of a Core Update – Why is This Important?
One of the main causes of concern among webmasters is that Google has confirmed that this fluctuation is not the result of a February core update. In the past, most SERP changes happened when Google rolled out a core update.
Google typically lets people know ahead of time when it is pushing out core updates since it will significantly change the way Google looks at content and drastically affect SERPs and SEO. These announcements are usually published on their Twitter account, Search Liaison, in an attempt to be as transparent as possible with their millions of users. Despite their new openness, there are still numerous spikes happening in previous months without any official announcements. Google responded to online questions about the most recent one and mentioned that this is not a result of their core updates.
Started in November
However, this is not the first time something like that has happened. Late last year in November, the SEO industry was shaken with drastic changes in SERP results and organic traffic, similar to that of February of this year. In fact, a lot of sites still haven’t recovered from the severe dip in organic traffic they experienced in November.
Is BERT to Blame?
A lot of people were quick to point fingers at one of the biggest algorithm changes of the decade – BERT. The update was everywhere, and many people associated the first fluctuations with the BERT update.
However, it is highly unlikely that BERT is to blame. According to a Q&A conducted by Google Webmasters on their Youtube channel around the time of the BERT update, the fluctuations are most likely not a result of BERT. BERT was focused on understanding search queries and written content in general. The main thing that BERT could affect was long-tail traffic and poorly-written content.
While the changes cannot be attributed directly to the BERT update, Google has confirmed that they did roll out several smaller updates in that time period. The significant traffic results that started getting reported even back then are likely as a result of one of the other November updates that rolled out at the time.
Who Got Hit By the Updates So Far?
The disturbing thing about these fluctuations is the sheer number of sites that are being affected. They are not constrained to a specific region, niche, or SEO tactic. Both the white hat and black SEO practitioners are reporting changes in their results. Even some well-established sites are experiencing significant dips in their traffic and SERP results. It seems that any chinks in their SEO armor are starting to give way to Google ever-evolving updates. Overlooked technical SEO, poor user experience, or bad content is starting to take a significant hit. Popular SEO forums were buzzing with numerous people reporting losses in traffic.
While the white hat SEO communities had a difficult time understanding these fluctuations, the black hat SEO community was just as shaken by the sudden changes in SERPs. These are some of the crashes reported in forums:
How To Secure Your Site
While a lot of agencies and websites were caught off guard by these sudden changes, our team had been anticipating them for some time now and took precautions to avoid any fallout. By carefully following the latest trends and developments with Google and keeping an eye on the industry, we were able to adjust our business model to focus on the technology behind all of this.
We believe that the only way to stay relevant on SERPs and not lose large amounts of valuable organic traffic is to focus on establishing a solid foundation for your website using the latest technology and AI tools. A solid foundation means following the best technical SEO practices, putting out high-quality content, and having the best possible hosting plan to run your site quickly.
Proper Technical Optimization
While there are a lot of factors that will affect rankings in 2020, we believe that 2020 should be the year in which you not only focus on your website but, most importantly, its technical elements. A lot of the sites that are taking a hit from Google updates are assuming the cause is poor technical optimization. This is why our first, and most important goal, is to make sure your website is correctly technically optimized. This includes everything from site architecture that enables easy crawling and indexing to the most important technical factors like site speed and mobile-friendliness. Our website-first model aims to create a website that withstands any Google updates and keeps you running optimally all year round.
The Most Important Technical Factors
When it comes to a quality website, the first two things that Google will look at are speed and mobile-friendliness. Websites that underperform in these parameters have no chance of ranking or reaching their full potential online.
Google considers page speed to be one of the most important factors when it comes to ranking. They believe that a good user experience is instant, easy, and reliable. Websites that take way too long to load are quickly ignored and overtaken by competitors that take the time to optimize for speed. While it is important to consider page speed for ranking’s sake, it is also a good business decision.
It is estimated that the longer a page takes to load, the more traffic it loses. Most people do not have the patience to wait 10 seconds on a page. If a website is underperforming in their eyes, they will simply click away. The best way to check your website page speed is GT metrix. Simply paste your URL into the field and wait for the results. A properly optimized site should rank over 90% and load in less than 3 seconds on desktop.
Desktop page speed needs to be as high as possible since PCs have a lot of computing power. Mobile devices, on the other hand, are not held to that high of a standard. While it is important to improve performance as much as possible, you are only required to push it to a 70% score and a 4-second load time for a positive result.
When it comes to mobile performance, there is a lot more to consider than just speed. As a part of Google’s mobile-first indexation, websites are required to support mobile devices if they want to rank well. In order to meet this Google requirement, we can help you make sure that your website is fully optimized for mobile. This includes a fast load time and responsiveness. Ignoring this vital factor in 2020 can result in drastic dips in organic traffic and SERP rankings.
Due to the importance of website speed, we have introduced a new service that can shave seconds of your loading time. Our hosting services are designed for small, medium, and larger businesses and are sure to improve website speed significantly. By combining our website optimization and hosting services, you can ensure that your page is properly configured and loading in under 2 seconds! This will not only help you stand out in rankings but also guarantee your visitors a better user experience.
Content – Ranking
Once your website is structured and optimized, it is time to look at your most powerful tool in digital marketing – content. A lot of agencies and sites are still using outdated methods for optimizing content. The fact of the matter is that content has come a long way in 2020. There are already millions of pages talking about all kinds of topics. We believe that the only way to stand out from the crowd is to have a good content marketing strategy and great content that you put out on a regular basis.
Our studies and experience show that content clusters do not only cover a topic in-depth but are ideal for interlinking and redirecting users to other pages on your website. The content cluster strategy utilizes search patterns and quality content for your benefit. Properly optimized content needs to follow Google’s guidelines and be original and relevant. At the same time, that content needs to be optimized for user intent, not only keywords. Our content writing services are designed to utilize AI technology, consider user intent, and provide content that can get a number one ranking in a matter of days, not months.
Always Keep Testing
We believe that organic traffic is an important factor in your online presence. Regardless of whether it brings income directly into your businesses, organic traffic is a metric that tells Google that your website is in compliance with its standards. The only way to do this is to ensure that you have a stable, secure, and healthy website that can meet the mark on any changes that Google introduces.
If you have any questions about our services, feel free to leave a comment down below.