Google released a major core update that rolled out over the first two weeks of May. We are seeing major search volatility this month, which we have been watching closely to understand what Google is rewarding and punishing. As with all updates, Google doesn’t give us a lot of specifics on what they are doing. We simply get to wait and see if we get the gold ribbon for doing SEO right, or if we get a slap on the wrist for shady SEO tactics. Watch the video from our SEO magician, Mike Guess, to learn more!
What we have learned about the May Core Update
- Thin content on pages – 32% of traffic lost
- Regular updates to old and new content – 20% traffic gain
- Author links on blog posts – 10% traffic gain
- Low bounce rates & high traffic help rankings
Thin Content: SEO Penalty
The biggest change we’ve seen is Google penalizing sites with “thin content.” Overall, this means that there are not enough words on the page versus what Google (now) thinks there should be. It could be that you have more graphs, pictures, and features on your site than you have readable text, or it could be that there wasn’t that much, to begin with. In other words, Google is favoring pages where someone has taken the time and effort to write relevant, long-form content. Search engines are getting smarter and picking up more on what’s related to a topic. If you write long-form content about not only the subjects at hand but topics around them too, you will be rewarded.
Updating Old Content: SEO Gain
Google is also rewarding editing older content that’s been sitting on your site for a while. Old blog posts, pages, and other informational content that are being updated with fresh content and links are getting around a 20% increase in visibility in search results! This doesn’t even require a full rewrite: just adding in some additional information and a link or changing some info that’s now outdated could very well show positive results for your traffic.
Linked Author Profile: SEO Gain
Another change, though smaller than the above two, is that Google is rewarding pages that have cited an author, with a link to an author page. Google is treating this as a trust factor and is handing about 10% more visibility to pages where this is properly marked. Just marking who the author is with a link to a page of more info about the author is enough to make a difference.
Pay Attention to Bounce Rates and Traffic
We’re finding that Google is paying more attention to the raw traffic numbers to your site, and how long they stay there. A bounce rate is the ratio of how many visitors to your site leave immediately (within a few seconds) vs. how many people stay on the page for a length of time. You want a bounce rate of under 70%. Traffic is the metric of how many people visit your site. Traffic can be from any source to count as traffic: paid ads, social media, organic SEO, affiliate programs, etc. You need to get as many people as possible to visit your site to get a bump in rankings. If you are able to properly engage your audience for at least a minute, Google will feel that your site is more relevant and give it some better organic rankings in search. While this isn’t a new concept, it is currently holding more weight than before. By simply adding a video to your home page, you can keep visitors on the site longer and lower your bounce rate. Google’s feelings about your site’s relevance can take a bit of time to build up, but there are some quick changes you can make to engage more with your site’s visitors and compel them to stay just a little longer.
What Should You Do About Your Website’s SEO After the May Core Update?
If you feel your site has lost its rankings and traffic as a result of the core update, let’s talk! InSync Media’s clients overall saw boosts from this update because of our content and SEO strategies and we can put this to work for your site and business as well. A free discovery meeting with our principal SEO strategist can be a big step for your business’s online presence and future.