Google releases September 2019 broad core algorithm update

Google has released quite a few ranking algorithm updates during the past few weeks. Have your rankings dropped? We can guide you on how to recover your rankings.

Normal fluctuations are not the same as ranking drops

The lower search results usually fluctuate much more than the top search results. If your website is new in the top 5 results, you can expect more fluctuation than websites that have been listed in the top 5 results for a longer time.

You can also expect higher fluctuation if the keywords are related to a hot topic. If Google shows results that are marked with "two hours ago", or "one day ago" then it's likely that the keyword is related to such a hot topic.

If your website was ranked in the same positions for several weeks before the rankings dropped, you should take a closer look at the changes.

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1.. Analyze the situation

You can only react to the changes, if you find out what actually happened. Here are some questions that can help you to identify the problem:

On which search engine has the ranking change occurred?
Has the change happened in a particular region?
Which pages have been affected by the change?
Has the ranking change influenced your conversions and your website traffic?
Did the same happen a year ago? This might be a seasonal issue.

After identifying the affected pages, you can proceed to the details:

Which keywords caused the traffic change?
Which competitors gained rankings for these keywords?

2. Act with care

Do not arbitrarily change your SEO tactics. Find the reason for the problem and then react wisely.

If your competitors now have better rankings than your site, analyze the pages of your competitors to find out why they rank better than your pages.

Google says HTML sitemaps are not useful for SEO

Google’s John Mueller said on Reddit that HTML sitemaps aren’t useful for SEO. Websites should be crawlable anyway. If visitors and search engines cannot find all pages of your website through the regular navigational links on your website, you should improve the internal links on your site.

“I agree. When it comes to SEO … for small sites, your site should be crawlable anyway (and if you’re using a common CMS, it’ll almost always be fine) & for large sites, they’re not going to be useful anyway (use sitemaps, use normal cross-linking, check with a crawler of your choice).

Do they make sense for users? I guess it’s a good signal that your normal navigation and in-site search are bad if people end up going to your HTML sitemap pages :).”


Google says some links can become less important over time


Google’s John Mueller said in a webmaster hangout on YouTube that some links can become less important over time. The reason for that is that the linking web pages can become less important.

“[Links from other websites] don’t expire. What does happen though is that, especially if you’re talking about a large website that’s that’s growing regularly, then the pages that [that contain the ]links […] get deeper and deeper within this website

So for example, if you have a link from CNN and it’s in an article that’s linked on the homepage then that’s something that’s really important for us.

On the other hand, if this article is maybe a year or two later is somewhere in the archive at CNN then that article itself is not something that we would find that important anymore.

So it’s not that the link expires after a certain period of time, but just often that the page where that link is on that becomes less and less relevant over time, if it’s on a site that is growing fairly regularly.

But given that the page doesn’t change, or if it’s an important page in a website then it shouldn’t have any different effects over time.”


It’s not enough to remove technical errors to rank well


Technical errors can block search engines from accessing your web pages. Unfortunately, it is not enough to fix these technical errors. You need more to get high rankings on Google and other search engines.

1. You must remove technical errors from your web pages

Your website can have many technical errors that keep search engines away from your website. Many of these errors are invisible. For example, your pages could return the wrong HTTP status code. If a web page does not deliver a "200 OK" HTTP status code, chances are that search engines will ignore the page. Unfortunately, your web browser does not show the HTTP status codes that your web pages send.

There can be invalid URLs, broken pages, duplicate content, issues with the titles, etc. All of these things can have a negative impact on the rankings of your web pages o Google and other search engines. That's why it is so important to fix these errors.

2. Your website still needs good content

John Mueller said in a webmaster hangout on YouTube that it's not enough to fix technical errors. Your website also needs good content:

"If you're working on your website for a while, then sometimes you focus on a lot of the technical details and you forget about the bigger picture. [...]

Keep in mind that just because something is technically correct, doesn't mean that it's relevant to users and the search results. That it doesn't mean that it will rank high.

If you clean up your whole website and you fix all of the issues, but, for example, if your website contains lots of terrible content, then it still won't rank that high.

So you need to, on the one hand, understand which of these technical issues are actually critical for your website to have fixed.

And on the other hand, you really need to focus on the user aspect as well to find whatever issues that users are having, and how can my web site help to solve those issues or to help answer those questions?"

The website audit tool in SEOprofiler sorts the errors that it finds into categories: errors (critical), warnings (should be fixed) and notices (not as important as the other two categories but should be fixed for a perfect website).

3. It also depends on your competition

If the competition is strong, it's not enough to have an error free website with good content.

"For some of these niches, there is a lot of really strong competition from people who have been working at this for a long, long time. And that can make a quite a bit more difficult than something that has a lot less competition."

In this case, it's usually the website that has the better links that will outrank the other websites. Improve the links that point to your website to improve the rankings of your web pages on Google.

Analyzing and improving the existing links of your website can often lead to great results. You can view John Mueller's statement here.


Google introduces two new link attributes and changes the way it treats nofollow links


Google announced in an official blog post that it changes the way it treats nofollow links. Until now, nofollow links were not considered by Google's ranking algorithm. Google has introduced new link attributes and nofollow links are going to be seen as 'hints'.

There are two new link attributes

When Google introduced the nofollow attribute about 15 years ago, it was introduced as a means to fight comment spam. The nofollow attribute was also used to flag sponsored links. As the web has evolved since 2005, Google has introduced two new link attributes for sponsored content and user-generated content.

1. The new rel="sponsored" attribute

The new rel="sponsored" should be used to identify links on your site that were created as part of advertisements, sponsorships or other compensation agreements:

<a href="" rel="sponsored">This is a paid link</a>

2. The new rel="ugc" attribute

UGC stands for 'User Generated Content'. The ugc attribute value is recommended for links within user generated content, such as comments and forum posts:

<a href="" rel="ugc">This link was created by a user</a>

3. The changed rel="nofollow" attribute

Use this attribute for cases where you want to link to a page but don’t want to imply any type of endorsement, including passing along ranking credit to another page:

<a href="" rel="nofollow">We do not endorse this site</a>
rel="nofollow": Use this attribute for cases where you want to link to a page but don’t want to imply any type of endorsement, including passing along ranking credit to another page.

These links are 'hints'

Previously, Google would not count any nofollow link as a signal to use within the search algorithms. This has now changed.

Google treats all link attributes (sponsored, UGC and nofollow) as hints about which links to consider or exclude within Search. Google does not ignore these links completely as links contain valuable information that can help Google improve search. For example, the words within links describe the content they point at.

You don't have to change anything

Although it is not necessary to change your existing nofollow links, you might want to use the new link attributes for future links:

If you use nofollow now as a way to block sponsored links, or to signify that you don’t vouch for a page you link to, that will continue to be supported.
There’s absolutely no need to change any nofollow links that you already have.
You can use more than one attribute, for example, rel="ugc sponsored" or rel="nofollow ugc".
If you want to avoid a possible link scheme action, use rel="sponsored" or rel="nofollow" to flag these links.

According to Google, the move to a hint model won't change the nature of how Google treats such links. It will treat them as it did with nofollow before and not consider them for ranking purposes.

All the link attributes, sponsored, ugc and nofollow, now work today as hints for Google to incorporate for ranking purposes. For crawling and indexing purposes, nofollow will become a hint as of March 1, 2020.

Bing also treats the nofollow attribute as a hint

Bing's Fabrice Canel said on Twitter that Bing has always treated the nofollow attribute as a 'hint':

Historically at @bing, we always treated the nofollow link attribute as a ‘hint’, making our own decision on trusting or not trusting. Please continue using this ‘hint’ and other link functions as sponsored and ugc as appropriate.
— Fabrice Canel (@facan) September 10, 2019

Nofollow in meta robots.txt is also a hint

Google's Gary Illyes said on Twitter that robots meta nofollow is just nofollow applied on all links of the page. Meta robots nofollow is a hint now, like rel-nofollow. There's no meta robots ugc and sponsored, it won't do anything if you add that to the meta robots tag.


How to get links from influential websites (two steps)


Although Google uses many different ranking signals, links from other websites are still the most important signal in Google's ranking algorithm. The better the links that point to your website, the higher your rankings.

It is difficult to get links from other sites. This article shows you how to convince influential websites to link to your site.

How to get links from influential websites

Step 1: Find the right websites

If you want to get good links, you must target the right websites. Only links from the right websites will have a positive impact on your rankings on Google and other search engines. A link from another website should be useful to website visitors. For that reason, it is important that the links to your website come from websites that are related to your site.

Step 2: create complementary content

If a website links to a competing website, you have to convince the other website that they should link to your site instead. There are two ways to do that.

If your website offers better content than the website that is currently linked by the other site then you might be able to convince the owner of the other website that it's better to link to your site.

Unfortunately, many websites won't link to your site if they think that they are already linking to a very similar site. For that reason, creating complementary content usually leads to better results.

Instead of trying to create content that is better than the content of your competitors, it is often easier to create complementary content. Create something that can serve as an important supplement to the pages that link to your competitors.

Pages with complementary content often get more links than pages that contain the same content as an existing page, even if the content is better.

For example, a well-known high-authority website might have an average article about a particular topic. That article will get many links just because the website is well-known. If you have a better article about the same topic, chances are that the other websites still won't link to your site just because your site isn't as well-known and authoritative.

If you offer these websites something additional that complements the average article on the well-known site, then it is much more likely that these websites will add a link to your site.


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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

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