March 12th: A date suddenly important when Google officially announced an update to its core search algorithm. This confirmation came after many experts in SEO noticed different results in performance across Google search indexes.
In August of 2018, Google released what was informally known as the medic update. This affected, in the main, verticals and websites relating to the health, fitness and wellness industries – the YMYL category (Your Money or Your Life).
In essence, this update came about as a means to improve the way Google rewards websites that rank well on trustworthiness, expertise and authoritativeness – key metrics for page quality.
The recent March update turned heads in part because it appeared to reverse some of these changes. Websites that were affected negatively by the August 2018 medic update found their results improved once again following the recent March alterations.
It appears, however, that this is a small occurrence. Most websites haven’t been affected in such a reversed manner; it’s a small but noticeable exception that caught attention and generated news and headlines.
Bad news for niche pages
Unfortunately for many, niche pages – ones that are dedicated to single services, subjects and products – have taken a noticeable hit following the March update.
While websites should still be optimising for time on site (the highest scoring sites on this metric fared best after the update), it’s important for SEOs and marketers to remember that search intent doesn’t always match up with bounce rate, page views and time on site.
While niche pages have shown a downturn following the update, it’s important for site owners and SEO specialists to take careful, measured actions instead of deleting or significantly altering long-standing pages.
The takehome message?
It’s important to remember that Google makes a number of broad core algorithm updates each year – this one just happened to be announced. While the March update has made some noticed impacts on certain areas of SEO, it’s important for websites to focus on what’s mattered for years: The building of page authority and brand trust.
User experience should also remain a key consideration. As we move into an SEO age where AI is driving improvements in user intent and semantics, websites that can understand search query motivations and the intent of their audience will be rewarded well.
Content also remains as valuable as ever in the drive to build trust and authority. The creating and publishing of high-quality, authoritative content that provides real value to its readers continues to be a worthy investment. Content marketing remains a marketing channel with exceptional ROI – if the business has enough patience and commitment to do the task properly.
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