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On Monday, June 3, 2019, Google officially began rolling out a new core search algorithm update:
The June 2019 Core Update is now live and rolling out to our various data centers over the coming days.
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) June 3, 2019
This core algorithm update should not be confused with another recent update aimed at making the search results more diverse:
Finally, the site diversity launch is separate from the June 2019 Core Update that began this week. These are two different, unconnected releases.
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) June 6, 2019
Google’s June 2019 Core Algorithm Update: What Happened?
Google regularly updates its search algorithm, tweaking it slightly based on user feedback. The difference between those minor updates and core updates is that a core update impacts the entire landscape of search where a minor update only impacts a few search ranking metrics. While it’s still too early to say exactly which websites were affected and why; most of us in the SEO industry have already seen some website traffic fluctuations. Daily Mail, a news publication in the U.K., reportedly lost half of their website traffic because of the update.
RankRanger measures the US search results and reported on Twitter an early analysis of the ranking fluctuations by niche:
We know the algorithm update has to do with page quality, but not much else at this point other than the fact that it was big. Danny Sullivan from Google said the only reason Google is talking about it (and gave us advanced notice) is because it will be “definitely noticeable.”
We will update this article as more information becomes available.
What Was Google’s Search Diversity Update?
The search diversity update changed the results so no single website commands more than two search results on a page. The update only affects the core organic search results, leaving features like stories, rich snippets, images, videos, and others unaffected.
If you’ve ever seen a search engine results page with ten listings from the same company/publication, you know what they’re talking about. Google regularly tweaks search results based on user feedback, and this was one tweak that did just that. People didn’t like seeing a lack of diversity in the search results, and Google’s RankBrain picked up on it. As a result, the latest tweak was born.
This site diversity change means that you usually won’t see more than two listings from the same site in our top results. However, we may still show more than two in cases where our systems determine it’s especially relevant to do so for a particular search….
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) June 6, 2019
No update is perfect, and many in the industry are reporting multiple listings from websites like Yelp and Pinterest still dominating the results for some searches. Google’s made other similar small updates this year based on user feedback, including more prominent labeling of Ads and a new look that presents site names and icons prominently:
Our search results on mobile have gained a new look that presents site names and icons prominently, as well as a bolded “Ad” label for ads. The new design rolls out over the coming days. Learn more here: https://t.co/Or3YLOHk35 pic.twitter.com/UN9oj2qwXT
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) May 22, 2019
How Does Google’s Search Algorithm Work?
Google uses a variety of factors in its algorithm to determine what results will be the most helpful for the user. It also uses latent semantic indexing, which uses search intent as an indicator of what results are the most relevant.
Google built its current algorithm around RankBrain, a machine learning (AI) algorithm Google uses to help sort and improve the search results. Backlinko condensed it pretty well:
In short, RankBrain tweaks the algorithm on its own.
Depending on the keyword, RankBrain will increase or decrease the importance of backlinks, content freshness, content length, domain authority, etc.
Then, it looks at how Google searchers interact with the new search results. If users like the new algorithm better, it stays. If not, RankBrain rolls back the old algorithm.
Image source: Backlinko
Google’s algorithm is smart; it is constantly changing and adapting to give users the best experience and to prevent black hat SEO tactics from manipulating search results. Part of the mystery of Google’s search algorithm is that it takes a LOT of ranking signals into account before displaying results.
Top Google Ranking Factors for 2019
While there are more than 200 ranking signals that go into Google’s search algorithm, we’ve identified the top Google ranking factors in 2019:
- Secured sites (HTTPS vs. HTTP)
- Page speed
- Schema markup
- Webpage content quality
- Webpage content length
- Social and local signals
- Quality backlinks
- Optimized images
- Domain age
- User experience
We have no reason to believe these top ranking factors have changed since Google’s June core algorithm update.
How Do I keep My Site from Being Affected by Algorithm Updates?
But, if you want algorithm updates to benefit your website instead of hurt it, follow Google’s Search Quality Guidelines. Here, I’ll sum them up for you:
Create quality content that answers all of your users’ questions, is authoritative, is easy to access and read, and is technically optimized so search engines can understand what your content is about and how it relates to search queries.
We’ve written hundreds of articles about SEO that detail how to do those three things.
What Do I Do if I lose Rankings from an Algorithm Update?
First, don’t panic.
It’s tempting to drop everything and rethink your SEO strategy when you see a rankings/traffic dip after an algorithm update. Don’t do that, unless you’ve lost 50% of your search traffic as Daily Mail did. Slight ranking and traffic fluctuations during an algorithm are normal as Google shifts around search results. If you’re seeing a hugely negative impact towards the end of June, you have cause to look into the issue further.
So, until then, do what we do—watch your traffic and rankings and make note of any drops or gains. If you have an SEO company managing your search presence for you, ask what they’re doing to stay on top of this update. If they’re good at their job, they’ll have an answer ready for you.
Stay tuned as we update this article as more information becomes available.
About The Author: Betsy is Blue Corona's Digital Content Manager. When she’s not directing Blue Corona's corporate digital content campaigns she’s urban exploring with her wife, diving into the latest marketing trends, or teaching horseback riding lessons. Twitter: @educatedbets
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