Rankings Suddenly Dropped? Google’s November Algorithm Update Might Be the Reason
In the past, Google was limited to a couple of updates per year. With limited quantity, SEO experts and online marketers could easily digest the changes and were able to take the required action within a given time period. Now, Google announces hundreds of new major and minor updates to their search engines each year. In 2018 alone, Google made 3234 updates (i.e. on an average of 9 updates per day).
Today, SEO service providers in Australia are more worried about Google’s upcoming updates while still tackling the contents of previous algorithm updates. For example, Google rolled out the September 2019 Core Update which had a major impact on health and medical sites. Later, on 2nd October 2019, another update took place that went unnoticed because it was quite minor. Google didn’t even confirm the update. Next came the BERT Update in October 22, 2019 which gave Google the ability to better understand search queries and the context in which they may appear.
Google announced on its blog that BERT is one of the most major updates in the past 5 years.
Without any doubt, Google’s September Core Update and BERT Update are majorly affecting sites in more ways than one.
Google September 2019 Core Update
As per the changes noticed, websites with strong link profiles, high quality-content and effective keyword coverage have made their way into the top 10 ranking positions on Google.
The more noticeable change that took place is that websites that previously held first ranking positions on Google dropped to 4th position and were replaced by 3 videos in a carousel. Their 4th position is still technically considered the first organic position, but they will appear after videos. This means, despite having superior content, their website may face decreased traffic due to the decreased visibility.
Here’s what Google says about BERT update:
‘These improvements are oriented around improving language understanding, particularly for more natural language/conversational queries, as BERT is able to help Search better understand the nuance and context of words in Searches and better match those queries with helpful results.
Particularly for longer, more conversational queries, or searches where prepositions like “for” and “to” matter a lot to the meaning, Search will be able to understand the context of the words in your query. You can search in a way that feels natural for you.’
BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. It is a natural language processing approach that helps Google understand users’ queries along with their context.
For example, many countries have different interpretations for different sentences. Let’s say, in New England, the word ‘cow’ means a large striped bass under the context of fishing. Before the update, if you typed ‘How to catch a cow fishing?’, Google offered livestock in the results. But, after this update, the results were as anyone from New England would expect. This time, Google connected the dots to provide the relevant result.
Back to our topic of dropped rankings. If you are worried about your dropped ranking, here are 3 ways Google’s latest update could have affected your sites.
3 Reasons Why Your Site May be Facing Ranking Issues
- Arrival of New Elements
As explained above, Google’s September 2019 Core Update replaced top rankings with videos, and it may have swapped your spot with other sources too. If videos haven’t replaced your site, featured snippets and ‘people also ask’ boxes may be pushing your link down.
It doesn’t mean you have low-quality content – Google just introduced new elements that pushed your rankings down, which resulted in fewer clicks. As you already know, the first ranked sites always win the most clicks.
- Major On-Site Changes
Have you made any on-site changes?
Experts have studied cases where people made on-site changes at the same time Google’s new updates were rolling out. This resulted in many sites dropping despite the positive changes just made. Like moving site from non-secure zone to secure one or updating internal linking, making them more relevant to the keywords and web page.
If you have made some changes, make sure you didn’t accidentally make your website hard to crawl for search engines. Or maybe you removed some navigational links that included pages you wanted to get higher rankings for.
- You are Not Offering the Best Results
Do you know why Google is introducing new elements in place of organic links? Because elements like featured snippets or carousel videos have better answers than links. Also, they eliminate the need to link-click. Obviously, whichever option offers the best answers is going to win the clicks.
If Google has dropped your first ranking position and is recommending answers from other links as opposed to yours, you need to update your content because what you’ve provided doesn’t adequately inform users. When creating new content, make sure you keep your target users and what they may search for in mind.
If you want to be aware of which penalty hit your site, set up Google Search Console on your site. It will alert you whenever any penalty is applied due to an algorithm update. The immediacy of these warnings can’t be guaranteed, but at least you will be provided with some essential information.
Below is an example of how Google Search Console alerts you.
There is no universal solution for what to do post-Google update. But, one can start with trying to find the answers to why their ranking dropped. The best place to start is with pages or content that replaced yours. Find out what they offer and compare it to your own website content and experience and adapt.
You want to read an article that recently caught your attention because of its compelling headline. You opened the link on your smartphone. Your expectations are high.
Do you have to zoom in to make sense of the content on your small screen?
Do you put effort into reading it or will you switch back to the search engine to find a link that offers better content on your screen?
The latter is the obvious option.
With the growing number of smartphone users, it’s become more important than ever to have a site that responds according to users’ expectations.
If your site failed to do so, you probably know well by now how it backfires.
But how do you create a user-responsive design?
Responsive design is your answer.
So… What is Responsive Design?
As the name suggests, responsive design is a design that stands up to your users’ expectations. It makes your website look good and well-fitted to all types and sizes of devices.
The design and structure of a responsive website is the perfect solution to your customers’ expectations as it adapts well to the different resolutions across devices.
Plus, you don’t need to create multiple versions of websites for mobile and desktop. Instead, a single responsive website plays various roles depending on the type of devices users are coming from.
But Why do You Need Responsive Design?
In 2015, Google introduced a mobile-friendly update to its search engine algorithms signaling a website’s mobile presence as an essential ranking factor. The rise of mobile web traffic till today alone is enough to justify why any business needs a responsive design.
Besides, there are many reasons why your organization receives 4-sided benefits from responsive web design. The list is too big to cover in one article, so we compiled a list of the top 6 reasons to have a responsive web design to upscale your business for current and future trends.
Let’s dive in.
1. Mobile Viewers Outnumbering Desktop Viewer
Do you know that over 50% of web traffic comes from smartphone users internationally?
Statista predicts worldwide smartphone users will reach 3.8 billion by 2021, which is up from 2.5 billion in 2016.
No doubt, all the facts, and statistics are pointing towards the trend of small-screen devices.
This means that websites not optimized for smaller screen devices often experience a massive decline in search engine traffic and rankings. This means users don’t find them anymore.
As you already know, smartphones are scoring well above desktop visits, but most mobile users are abandoning unresponsive sites at first glance.
In fact, 76% of users admitted that if the site functions well and runs smoothly on their smartphone, they are more likely to revisit it.
Overall, if your prospects open your website on their mobile and end up closing it within 3 seconds because they couldn’t view content properly, you need responsive design.
2. Google + SEO-Friendly Site
Google considers the responsiveness of a website and has even stated that search engine rankings favour responsive sites over non-responsive ones.
One fact worth mentioning is that responsive design makes it a lot easier for search engines like Google to crawl your website and reduces the chances of errors with on-page SEO.
Not having a responsive website is a simple explanation for a lack of Google traffic you’re your declining ranking. Unfortunately, without a responsive design, many of your potential leads are turning to competitors offering excellent user experience. Before it gets too late, take the step now and turn your website into a responsive, SEO-friendly site.
3. Enhanced User Experience
Responsive websites load faster than non-responsive ones. They consist of a technology that displays websites on all devices with content that adapts quickly to different screen sizes. They behave as if you have created multiple versions of a single site for each device, giving your users a personalized experience based on their device choice.
Non-responsive sites, on the other hand, squeeze content into small screens, which takes more time to process and compromises the content quality.
Responsive web design eliminates all the problems created by non-responsive sites like poor user experience, higher loading times and small, difficult-to-read content. Responsive designs appeal to the ever-shrinking patience of mobile and tablet users who are not willing to wait for more than 3 seconds for your site to load its content.
Responsive sites offer an unbeatable user experience by loading sites in the least time possible. Thus, it results in leaving a positive impression among users of your brand. Because of the fast response from the site, users feel valued and are more likely to revisit the site.
4. Easy Management
Many businesses, especially small ones, can’t spare much time to update or refresh their website every now and then. At the same time, they can’t afford to hire costly services of web designers to take care of all aspects of the website. And, if you have different versions of a site for desktop and mobile, the cost of management skyrockets.
Responsive design is one of the most cost-effective solutions. Making changes to adopt a responsive design is as easy and smooth as spreading butter on bread. Also, whatever changes you make, you don’t have to worry about making the same changes in multiple versions. Responsive design takes care of everything automatically after you are done editing the design or updating the blog.
Additionally, with one website working at the center of your online business, managing other marketing elements becomes more accessible than ever.
So, when updating a social media button or redirecting a link, you don’t have to wonder whether all users (mobile users and desktop users) are enjoying your new changes or not. Responsive design eliminates the management stress of your business website.
5. Decrease in Bounce Rate
Is your website falling prey to a high bounce rate?
Non-responsive websites are one of the many reasons behind a higher bounce rate.
High bounce rate signals to Google that perhaps your website is not as relevant as it should be when it comes to solving users’ problems or answering their questions. Content is usually not to blame. Slower and non-responsive websites are the main reason behind users landing on your website and leaving it as soon as it fails to load. This entire scenario negatively impacts your search engine rankings.
Design plays a vital role in the user experience of your website. No matter how great your content is, if it fails to fit properly in small screen devices, users are not going to strain their eyes or wait longer to load its content. They know that they have other options waiting in the search engines’ list to explore and enjoy for a more seamless user experience.
Responsive design never makes users wait or zoom in. It makes websites adaptable to all sized devices without affecting the content quality.
6. Increase in Leads and Conversion
A large news media organization was fidgeting with the thought of whether to invest in responsive design or not. To decide, they A/B tested with a responsive and non-responsive site where the goal was to increase the number of free trial sign-ups.
Here’s the proof revealing which website design won the game:
The conversion rate hiked up by 56% from the implementation of responsive design.
Responsive design makes it easier for website visitors to find what they are looking for without zooming in, waiting or straining their eyes. The more effortless the design is, the more users convert. Mixed with a lower bounce rate and better SEO rankings, you’ll get a strong, successful model of a website.
Embrace it Now
If you’re not convinced about the abilities of responsive design, give it a chance and allow it to save your time and money without compromising the quality of your website. This is a modern strategy most businesses follow to stay within budget while turning their small business into a brand.
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