Search Marketing

What now for SEO? 7 lessons we’ve learned since the Google SEO update

Jun 17, 2019
Reading Time: 5minutes

Post Summary

  • Google SEO update of 1st June 2019
  • 7 lessons we learned

David recently wrote about the importance of Google’s E-A-T and how it impacts websites and their ability to combine expertise, authority and trustworthiness. Well, while he was in the process of writing this article, a Google SEO update occurred, known as the broad core algorithm update, and this completely changed a lot for several websites. 

In fact, as a couple of our prominent clients were walloped. David and I sat down and aggregated our experiences and summed up the following analysis.

Disclaimer: SEO is not an exact science; it is merely the best practice solutions that SEO experts agree on and is ALWAYS changing.

1. One page for multiple keyword rankings

Hours before Google released its new update they mentioned that they had finally come up with a solution to diversify content and that it was answering the demands of the people through this diversification update that would only allow domains to appear in the SERPS for 1-2 pages and hyper-relevant queries.

What that means for the SEO community:

Gone are the days of being able to rank for multiple keywords. As Googles’ AI becomes better, it is now ready to understand the topics of websites and pages, and we can no longer manipulate the SERPS to come up for multiple searches around different keywords having to do with the same topics.

For example. If you have a local service niche like wedding photography and wanted rank for “wedding photographers near you” and “best local wedding photographer” or “wedding photographers in LA” you would have previously created three pages around these search terms with the intent to optimise the pages for those specific keywords. 

Why did we do this? 

Because using more than two keywords per page was leading to Google becoming confused about what the keyword was, and we were unable to get into the SERP for what we wanted.

Now, since 1st June 2019, instead of creating three different pages you would create one page with these terms being used as close variants on the same page – this would mean a much longer scrollable landing page with way more text than usual.

For example, you would create a location page called Wedding Photographers Near You and then discuss through on-page text and SEO best practices why you are the best wedding photographer in your city and the locations in which you are prepared to travel. You would then be able to come up in the SERP with this singular page across multiple queries rather than numerous queries tailored to multiple pages.

Take away: Begin creating pages with long-form content that contain multiple topics around a broad topic. Google has stated themselves you will now be incredibly lucky to get more than two pages into a SERP going forward unless it is for a long tail phrase like “the best time of year to get married my house.”

2. Websites that have backlinks but no referral traffic are being penalised. 

Why? 

Because most likely this means that there is a PBN scheme taking place. The point of backlinks is NOT for the backlink itself. Yes, I know we all want the “link juice” however, the priority should be to provide educational resources to similar audiences of a different website.

Example: If you have five backlinks on Wikipedia and are not getting referral traffic because of them, your website may experience a hit if the content on Wikipedia is thin or there is no actual referral traffic coming from the backlink.

Take away: Backlinks are still the number one ranking factor, yet it will not be good enough any longer to have them for the sake of having them. Your backlinks will have to have specific attributes to matter and not be affiliated with a link buying scheme or PBN. In other words, sites that people read and more likely to click on a link to your website will give your site some kudos.

3. Get site speed up to scratch

We noticed that websites that scored a 60% or lower on GTmetrix took a severe hit. With Google’s recent announcement around mobile first indexing taking priority on all new sites, you can see why this will be extremely significant. 

GTMetrix Google SEO

So, make sure your sites are as follows:

  • load time: under 2 seconds
  • page size: under 1mb
  • requests: under 80 requests

Because Google uses 3G network speeds to measure your website speed, you need to remember to make it accessible for 3G speeds with the metrics above. Optimising your images will be a huge must, and decreasing javascript queries will play an integral role. This is not becoming an option any longer – you simply have to do it.

Take away: optimise your website for speed.

4. Use Schema

SEO experts are noticing that Schema is becoming more and more critical. With this update, websites that include on-page Schema through item prop positioning (not json) saw an increase in rank provided the following above was adhered to.

What now for SEO? 7 lessons we've learned since the Google SEO update 1

Example: We personally noticed on website pages that included singular reviews, Schema dates, Schema business descriptions and Schema area radiuses of service saw high ranking provided everything discussed above implemented.

Take away: Learn how Schema works asap. 

5. Google MyBusiness listings also took a nosedive from this Google SEO update. 

The GMBs that we observed that took the biggest hits were ones whose locations were over-optimised for more than 3-4 surrounding areas.

Example: One client (not ours) had 50 zip codes in their GMB location section. This worked wonders a week ago, and today they most likely saw a penalty because of it – Google assumes they were trying to “game them” by over-optimising their locations. 

Take away: Alternatively, ensure a brand’s GMB is completed by filling out all sections with your main keywords while keeping it as natural as possible, including the services section for the services you offer. Do not over optimise any of these areas, yet you do need to use your keywords on a topical basis, so Google knows what your business is about. For example, searches in the Google local 3-pack will state whether a search result will contain the keyword you are searching for.

6. Directory websites saw a minor boost for local services, rising to the top of local sites. 

We believe that Google is showing growing favouritism towards them more. If the Google SEO update plans to keep the directories at the top, then digital marketers will need to utilise Google Ads to remain above the fold and the directories themselves. 

7. Ad colour also changed 

While we are on the subject of SERPS, this update saw the changing of ad colours that are no longer green. Presumably, Google wishes us not to realise they are ads, so improving their CTRs against organic search and raising digital marketers use of Google Ads as opposed to doing SEO

SEO experts – if there are other concerns you know of that we failed to mention then write in the comments. We’d love to discuss more!

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