At the start of March, SEO forums went berserk as website owners and SEO professionals saw sudden changes in the amount of traffic their pages were getting. A lot of speculation started around whether or not Google had launched a major algorithm update and whether they were targeting low-quality pages. Here’s a better look at what occurred.

An official announcement

On 12th March, Google announced on Twitter that an update had indeed occurred. However, they stressed that “Each day, Google usually releases one or more changes designed to improve our results”. As such, you should not expect that this was necessarily anything out of the ordinary.

In fact, it is widely known that Google often releases multiple updates to the algorithm every single day. A Google spokesperson revealed that in 2012 alone they released a total of “665 improvements to search”.

How is this update different?

So, regardless of there being so many updates every week, it is clear that something must have been slightly different about this one. And, in some ways there was. Google was clear in stating this was a “core algorithm update”, and that they occur “several times per year”. Many people scouting the forums online have claimed that this is another attempt by Google to punish low-quality sites.

However, Google has pointed out that that is not their aim. Instead, the update was just another step in helping to reward good quality content. They stated that the changes made to the algorithm were to benefit pages that were previously under-rewarded.

How might it have affected you?

Well, based on the logic put forth by Google, it all depends on how good your content is. Some site owners have reported losses in traffic of up to 50% or more, whereby others have seen massive surges. It all comes down to how “good” your content is in the eyes of Google.
Other tweets by Google HQ announced that “there’s nothing wrong with pages performing less well”. Also that “there’s no ‘fix’ for pages that perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content”. As such, if you’ve seen your site’s traffic drop due to the update, then there isn’t a clear-cut answer.

In fact, it may be that your content is perfectly good, but just not better than your competitors. As such, the best solution you have is to do exactly what Google wants all site owners to do: publish useful content.

The best SEO advice is to stop focusing on techniques like keyword stuffing and instead spend time writing content that provides useful and actionable advice based on genuine user problems. Then, over time, it’s possible your traffic can pick back up again and that you won’t be harmed by any future updates.

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