How to do a post Google Update SEO Analysis to recover lost rankings – #CrawlingMondays 14th Episode
What can you do after losing rankings from a Google Update? In this Crawling Mondays episode I show how to Develop an SEO analysis to identify the patterns of losers and winners by answering these top questions.
Welcome to the April Fool’s edition of Crawling Mondays. And even if it is April Fool’s, today’s topic is actually pretty serious, and it’s no joke at all.
It’s about what to do when you have been hit by the Google search ranking algorithm update. The topic comes because a little bit more than 2 weeks ago, we saw the last one. Initially, it was going to be called the Florida two update, that happened on March 12th. And it was a core algorithm update that Google actually confirmed that there are a few updates happening through the year.
I see all the time, questions that arise around them, like what to do, realistically, especially after Google has confirmed that they happen, and after you see that you go to your organic search traffic, you go to and check out your rankings, and you see that there’s an actual drop in them. Right? So you can directly validate that something is happening in your rankings. And this is likely something that has to do with the algorithm update, that you haven’t changed anything on your website configuration that may have also had a role, or a negative influence, in these rankings and traffic changes.
Actually for that I already created this website. I don’t know if you have ever seen it, that is called, Why My Web Traffic Dropped? Like asking a few questions, and a few validations before that, to identify if a drop of traffic is because of an algorithm update, of a search behavior change, a tracking problem, a real drop because of a [crawlability 00:01:53] issue, or a content indexing issue, or whatever, right.
So, you can take a look at this, website please, in order to really verify if you have been actually hit by a Google search algorithm update or not. And after you have checked that this is likely the reason … I would like to share today, which steps you can follow to identify specifically, which are those specific pages, and for which queries you have dropped, and what you can actually do at the time in order to try to improve the website and, like this, and the next time there’s an update and Google [assesses 00:02:37] again your website pages, you can see a future increase instead of a further decrease. Let’s take a look.
So once that Google algorithm update happens, first thing is very likely that you hear some comments Twitter, that you actually have seen a little bit of type of specific rankings, you been checking your rank tracking data, you want to verify, you want to validate, right. And actually, one of the sources that I always check is, Search Engine Roundtable, because Barry does an amazing job documenting any updates information.
Then, realistically, we will tend, also, to go and check with tool like, for example, SEMrush, or we might go to [Ahrefs 00:03:29], or Systrix, which they track the overall rankings, and we will likely easily see the trend and rankings and traffic, organic traffic, that they track for any website. Sometimes this might be more or less accurate, and so, that is why I come here, to tell which is, it’s okay verify these tools, but it’s important to not stay here, right, especially if it a website that we own, and we can have, we are likely tracking our rankings, we have access to the Google Search Console if we have our own rank trackers.
We want to see, this is the first question to ask and to answer, is like, we are seeing any effects, these can be positive. In this case, I can see here, that for [Remoters 00:04:16], this is a website that I own, that was slightly positive from the March 12th update, right. And traffic, as well as overall rankings, though. It’s true, that many of the tools they provide overall ranking and data, they are ranking for whatever term, again, that might not necessarily be as important for me, and in this particular case, I always want to see the top three rankings because these are actually the ones that will tend to bring me traffic at the end of the day and are much more meaningful for me. So, it’s okay to check, it’s okay to start double-checking and validating if there was actually any position change that is worthy to note. If it is a trend that you see, not only for yourself, but also for your competitors,
And then we actually verify and validate this with our own traffic data, right. That is why we have, for example, Google Analytics, and we go to the organic report here, and I use this extension here, this is called Context, that it will show me how, [like me 00:05:22] here, in the timeline. The Google Algorithm updates and also the holidays to see if it is actually not a trend or that has changed because any other reason, actually. So for example, I can see here the before and after a little bit, and I also compare with a year before also to see a little bit of impact versus another year. And I can see that, in this particular case, for example, that the gap versus the previous year, the growth gap in this particular case, hasn’t changed much, right, overall, in organic search traffic.
But of course again, the overall traffic for you, depending on your business model, might be more or less meaningful. Maybe what you really want, what you really want is to really run for certain queries, for certain rankings, right.
So, after checking Google Analytics, and verifying that there has, again been actually an increase or decrease in organic search traffic, is coming to Google Search Console and seeing, if for those top pages and queries, you can see the same. If there has been actually an improvement or a decrease in rankings, not only in clicks, impressions, but actual rankings for them, as we can see here. And for which pages and for which queries there has been an increase or a decrease, right. And this is important because it would be a little bit difficult to do it so here with the Google Search Console interface.
For example, here we can compare, actually, and I am comparing here, this week here that is after the update, with this other week that is before the update, and we can see here the average, the changes in the average positions of these pages here, besides the changes in clicks or impressions. What I am much more interested about is the changes in average position.
But of course, after the average position of the pages, I want to take a look at for which specific queries these pages actually lost their rankings or decreased in the rankings, if they have been negatively affected, right. And for this I have to say that, [unfortunately 00:07:35] the Google Search Console interface is not necessarily the best to do this, this comparison, and what I tend to do here with this data, is to download the data here, and you can download it here as a CSV or as a Google Sheet and to compare it here.
So even if … you will see I am tracking my own keywords with my own rank tracking tool, I always like to double-check to see the top, or the official data, that Google will give me with the Google Search Console. So, here I will download the ones for the pages, and I also will do the same for the queries. We can do the same here for queries. And I can see here, and I will be able to compare the clicks, the impressions, and the click-through rate, and the average positions here.
So of course, I want to take a look at for which queries. And of course here I have eliminated, here in this particular case, and the pages here, but you can imagine that here you can see the specific URLs, and the specific queries and we can see, and the position comparison, which have decreased the most, which were ranking much higher before, and now they are not ranking at all, for example here, and we can do a combination of those that have decreased the most in rankings and also decreased the most in clicks.
I will also combine this data with the one, which are those, for which queries in this particular case that have also the [combo 00:09:15], not only decreased in positions, but have decreased in clicks. And I will go and take a further look now that I will analyze this with additional rank tracking data.
Ideally, you will be doing it so, like this, not only for your own website but also your website versus the competitors. And this is a game-changer, this is all because it doesn’t only tell you if you have actually improved overall, or decreased, but also gives you context, and tells you if your competitors have actually improved in a positive way while you decreased, you actually left your spots to them, to improve.
This again, give you an additional look, and I am using SEO monitor here, to track alittle bit more than, almost 250 keywords for remoters, for those keywords are actually meaningful for me. And I can see that after the update, and here again, I am given the update information. I was like this, and this particular website here, FlexJobs, seems that is improving after the update. There wasn’t necessarily as much of a change for much here in, for remoters, but there was a slight decrease in this last date.
What I will do, and this is where actually the analysis comes much more meaningful. For this particular queries and keywords that you actually track, because they are very, very important for you, business-wise, and traffic-wise, and conversion-wise is, which of these have actually decreased in ranking so, which of these have actually improved, because it’s very likely that you haven’t not necessarily been only negatively affected, there might be a few pages of your website, for a few queries, that you have positively affected.
You actually want to start identifying patterns here, and you will also like to check the rankings on desktop and mobile. And the first thing to do here is to, yeah, take a look at for which these keywords that you are tracking, and we can have the rankings here from March 1st, until now. Which negatively changed right after, especially knowing the update information.
So I can see, in this particular case, that I was tracking my rankings for N26 alternative, because I knew that I was bringing a little bit of traffic with it already. But realistically I might not necessarily be the best, provide the best page to rank for it. But I will click on it because I can see that there was a negative impact on this particular query. And I will do the same with all of these queries starting with the ones that have been the most important negative impact after the update.
And take a look at how the evolution in rankings have been for this particular page. But I want … And this is the next question, which page you were ranking for this particular query? Take a look at if this is actually the best page to address and to run for this query and ask yourself, and be honest about it, was this page actually ever the best possible page to rank for this particular query? Yes or not? And this particular case, we cover mobile banking options, and I will say yes, this is definitely a relevant page. Although it doesn’t only talk about N26 alternative, there might be others, and I may be able to even generate, create a piece of content, a guide, that is much more better to address this type or queries and fulfill better the questions that might arise when someone actually searches for this term.
This is relatively relevant. However, I need to put this in context and ask, is this actually more relevant than these other players are ranking me for this query? And I can actually check which are those pages that Google actually benefited from the update. What type of pages they are, do they have more or less content than me, what type of content it is, are these [inaudible 00:13:34], are these product pages, are these blog posts, are these comparison pages, what is the nature of this content? How are the addressing this query? So it’s not only about, oh, they have more content than me, or they have less content, or I know that Google will like less [SaaS 00:13:52] content quality. And yes, but it’s also about fulfilling the intent of the user, and also identifying that these are the most authoritative pages to show, and we know that it doesn’t only necessarily have to do with content, also with links and the link popularity of these pages.
So, it’s important that we, after we identify that this is the question, have my website been positively or negatively affected? Yes or no? For which areas, for which queries? For these ones, or for these queries and pages I am tracking directly with a run tracking tool like this one, that will allow me to go in a much more regular way and understand how it has decreased, which page for which query, and which websites have increased while I have decrease. To specifically see patterns, to start identifying patterns.
So in this particular case, I can see that the first player that actually increased in rankings, was a comparison website, it looks like, so, craft.co N6 comparison. And I come here, I open up the page, and I see that, yes, it’s a comparison page. Like as is in all this data, all this [inaudible 00:15:08] of, N26 versus it’s competitors. So yes, I have to accept that yeah, it has more content, better comparison, more data points than the one that I am having with my blog post.
Who I want to see the one that also increase much more in this last update. So I will go, and I will analyze those that have, whether increased or retain, or lost their rankings, and are ranking better than me.
So besides our rank trackers and manually checking those pages that have improved in their rankings above us, or that they have kept their rankings like us, while we have dropped for these particular pages, is that we check the content characteristics, and link characteristics, and technical configuration, and the content format even, of these particular pages, to identify, which are the patterns that they share that we don’t have. So, for example, in the case of N26 alternative, I am using here, and I love this little tool, the keyword tools of cognitiveSEO, because they have this ranking analysis feature.
Actually show here the words on page average here, which are the keywords that they are already including in the content. They give a preview here of the title, and they have this content performance metric that you can also use as a reference, but of course, you want to definitely check out. So, I’m seeing here, that for this particular query, it’s not only the length of the content, of course, because I can see that yes, it have 1200 words, 667, 2700, 2700, more than a thousand again, so I can see that the top positions they have a non-trivial volume of content.
We want to assess, we want to identify, which are patterns that are shared, that are not. So besides the volume of the content, and the length of this content, we are going to see and check out how this content is format. Again, we could see that this was a comparison page, that it was formatted in a certain way. How many of these are transactional pages? How many of these are informational ones? How many of these are structured as guides, or are structured as comparison, from the ones that have increased or decreased? Because this give us a hint a little bit of the type of tweaks, or what Google is incentivizing to address this type of queries, based on their data, of what they have identified that is much more positively perceived by the user, because we should never forget that this is the final outcome. Google wants to provide the best possible result to the user, the one that will actually address the query and fulfill their search.
So, in this particular case, I want to take a look at here, remoters, we can see, yes, I have less content than them. I will likely then check again the format of the content, and not only the content and how the content is created, if it is authoritative, how authoritative is my content? How insightful is my content? Versus the one that is featured here, and the one that has improved in rankings, much more importantly.
And of course, I want to do the same from a link popularity perspective. I want to understand what is the gap of my page that was negatively affected by the update, versus those that were positively affected, that are outranking me, that are now in the best possible positions, but for a link popularity perspective, not only from a content perspective.
Check another tool, and use another tool, which is [SERPchecker 00:18:47]. [And 00:18:47] to better understand for this particular query, in this country, and for these SERPs, because I can switch between mobile and desktop. I want to understand how many links is this page attracting versus mine, and normally how many links, the trustworthiness, or authoritativeness, that these links have versus mine. Not only is link volume, because these can be low quality links coming from only very few numbers of domains, but also how diverse they are, how relevant they are, from which websites they are coming, and these are authoritative websites or not.
And I can initially start here taking a look at for example here, the link metrics again, the domain authority, page authority, citation flow, trust flow, but I want to take a look much more in particular, if they have many external links coming to them, how many root domains are linking to them.
And then of course from a link popularity perspective I can take this analysis further for these particular, very important queries that I have lost rankings for, and better understand which is the link profile for these particular pages that are gaining in rankings and outranking me, and comparing page by page right here.
And so I can see that this is the top one, these are then the pages ranking in the top three results, and then me. From a link intersect perspective few can use this particular functionality to compare the links that are going to one of these players much more than others, which are the ones that are shared between them. To identify, also, patterns of these are the type of links that these websites are attracting that I still don’t have, and I could try to attract in order to improve my link popularity in a rather positive way.
So, you can see that I have been explaining and specifying in a much more granular basis, and showing you specific tools.
This Tweets that I actually shared a few days ago regarding this matter. Questions to ask for sites losing from Google updates, from which query page combo and Geo-Device the rankings dropped? Was this page relevant to answer the query for which it dropped in rankings? Which other pages dropped along yours? What patterns did they share? Which other pages gained the spots from where you dropped? What patterns they share? What is different from you? Did they drop rankings from the query completely or there were other internal page that now ranked for the query? How you can fill the pattern gap.
Answering these questions regarding our rankings, regarding our pages, regarding the queries that they are targeting, identifying the gaps versus those competitors that are actually increasing rankings, identifying the patterns that we actually also shared with those that have lost rankings, and we don’t want to share necessarily. And also asking in an honest way, that if we were actually the best possible page to rank for that particular query.
If not, maybe it is an opportunity for us to prioritize also, to create more content, to improve even the existing content, but in another way. To create more pieces of content, different type of content also. Because maybe we are not addressing the query the best possible way, and Google, of course, doing their job by prioritizing, by improving the rankings of those pages that are actually targeting the best possible way. We might not be necessarily the case.
So, hopefully with this questions and showing you how to address them, how to use tools to address them and validate them, you have a much better input now to do an analysis, to better understand the potential reasons of your ranking drops after an update. And also, hopefully also, when you increase your rankings, you also identify which are those patterns that are benefiting you to identify even further opportunities to further improve your rankings in the future.
Thank you very much for the opportunity, again, and thank you for joining me in another Crawling Mondays. See you next week.