Analysing Google’s October 2018 Algorithm Updates
It’s been a few mad weeks with the Google Algorithm updates and the dust is finally starting to settle. There have been some winners and losers within the rankings and forums are awash with comments on what’s happening.
After doing countless hours of reading around the subject (including the very long google EAT guidelines) here are my views:
Firstly let’s start with EAT as I believe there is a lot of focus on this area.
So what does the acronym EAT mean?
It stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.
What I believe Google has been doing since August is to try and explore ways in which they can improve their algorithm to hone in on these points.
In August the ‘Medic’ update impacted a lot of websites where they were providing information without authority. This was especially for your money or your life websites which can be referred to using another acronym YMYL. In October I believe they have done greater tuning around this area, further punishing websites who don’t focus on EAT.
A better way to understand it is to take the theory offline for a moment. Let’s say you have an accident and your arm is hurt really bad. Which of these options would you trust the most:
- A trained doctor specialising in arms.
- Your GP.
- Your mom who has experienced a few arm injuries.
- Your younger sister who has never had an arm injury but read some stuff on the internet once.
Pretty easy, if you wanted the best advice you’d go to a specialist doctor. Google believe search should also reflect this methodology. Some of the other options could provide good advice, however, a specialist would be more accurate and provide greater knowledge.
Before the Medic update, websites could outrank professionals by creating in-depth content and playing by SEO guidelines. Where a professional with in-depth experience could struggle to rank due to lack of knowledge on search engine guidelines. When things such as medical information are involved it’s important to display the most trustworthy sources.
What if there are multiple specialists?
Going back offline, if there are multiple specialists to choose from, you might look for the ones with greater experience, higher or more qualifications, good reviews and strong supporting references.
Back online, a website that’s been around longer, has greater quality content, positive reviews and good quality links (things which google already does). Should be more appealing sites to deal with than others.
Location offline is also important, something which google have previously acted on by adding google local, which provide local search results.
What should I do to improve my EAT?
Here’s what I would recommend:
Reference sources in blog posts or articles
Where I believe Google is heading is a more reference-based approach, back at university when writing assignments we had to reference others when making points to back them up. Looking for examples Wikipedia shows up for various topics and use a reference section to back up points within their articles. Basically, if you’re going to be making a point about something serious, you need to reference good quality sources (if possible) which back up your statement.
However, in some cases, you might be the first to discover or write about a subject which makes it inapplicable.
For reference, here’s a look at the links on Wikipedia for the ‘search engine optimisation page’.
Image: Wikipedia linked articles
Below is another example of a high performing blog article where they have used several references which have helped rank the blog number 1 in search and drive high levels of traffic.
Image: References within a blog post
Credit: S4U – Blog post – HDF v MDF
Another area we should target is authorship by creating an author bio. This allows us to tell readers a little about the writer and why you should trust them. This could be mentioning how long you’ve been in the industry, your position within the business and if you have any qualifications. I would also recommend linking to a more detailed profile from a trusted source such as Linkedin. This allows users to check on your career and background and deter people creating articles without the base knowledge.
Marie Haynes has written an in depth post on trust and has a good section on authorship and trust.
If you have a company blog where you wouldn’t like to reference individuals, an about us page explaining who the company are and some information about why should trust them should be a must.
Compare your site with websites above you
Take a look at websites that rank above you and see what they’ve got which you haven’t.
Analysing against competitors for a website which recently dropped I noticed a lack of pages such as ‘About Us’, ‘Returns Policy’ and ‘Environmental Policy’. Within the Google guidelines for EAT, they specifically mention not having an ‘About Us’ page which can tell visitors details about the company and how they began.
Large companies tend to have multiple policies covering all aspects, as these policies usually require legal advice and lot’s of work. Small businesses or websites will often overlook them, these could be the trust factors your website is missing.
Social media icons were another thing I noticed where companies didn’t have a presence. This make you look smaller as you don’t have the resources to manage other platforms.
Other areas of your website to improve
Schema Markup is microdata which you can add to your HTML which can help search engines read your content and make a better representation of your pages within search.
Whilst there is no evidence to suggest this can help improve your ranking, it’s worthwhile adding to make sure your content is being interpreted correctly. There is even an official structured data markup helper to make it easier to generate the HTML.
Image: Schema Markup for an article
Neil Patel has written a more in-depth guide to Schema Markup
One of the key takeaways here is the ability to tell Google who the Author is which might link well with the authorship section.
Clearing Website Errors (Webmaster Tools)
Another area to take a look at is the Google Search Console (webmaster tools) which identifies errors with the performance of your website. If Google thinks your site is full of errors then this could also cause it to be penalised within search.
This is another in-depth area which is a separate subject itself, here is a fantastic guide by Eoghan Henn on dealing with crawl errors.
Changes take time
Please note, even if you work your way through these changes, they are not instant and could take time for Google to apply them. On average it takes 4-6 months for changes to kick in and to see the fill benefit.
If your website has dropped in the search and you’re based in the UK, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your website and your targeted keywords.
https://ignitevisibility.com/ymyl-pages-what-are-ymyl-google-seo-pages/ – YMYL Acronym.
https://www.mariehaynes.com/algo-changes-and-more/ – Marie Haynes Comments about Authorship and Trust
https://neilpatel.com/blog/get-started-using-schema/ – Neil Patels guide to Schema Markup
https://www.searchviu.com/en/crawl-errors-google-search-console/ Information on fixing google search errors by Eoghan Henn on seachviu.com