Preparing Your Website for Search Algorithm Changes

Preparing Your Website for Search Algorithm Changes

Search engine algorithms are constantly evolving as Google, Bing, and other search engines seek to improve the experience for users. Periodic updates to algorithms help search engines better understand websites and provide more relevant results. However, these changes can negatively impact some sites if they aren’t properly optimized. Here are some strategies to help prepare your website for upcoming algorithm updates.

Stay Informed on Upcoming Changes

To start, it’s important to stay up-to-date on search engines’ publicly announced algorithm changes. Google regularly shares updates in their Webmaster Central Blog to give webmasters forewarning. Pay attention to posts about upcoming “core” algorithm updates, which are comprehensive changes that can significantly impact rankings. Bookmark the blogs of major search engines so you see new posts as they’re published. Following accounts like @googlesearch and @bingwebmaster on Twitter also helps stay informed.

Measure Historical Web Traffic Patterns

Reviewing your historical search traffic data over the past 6-12 months can uncover patterns that may be impacted by algorithm changes. Google Analytics is useful for this, allowing you to analyze trends by source/medium and landing page. Take note of any sudden drops after past updates to identify vulnerable areas of your site. This historical insight will help you spot fluctuations sooner after upcoming changes rollout.

Conduct On-Page SEO Checks

Ongoing search friendliness assessments are important to prepare for algorithm tweaks. Regularly review your site for potential issues signaled by search engines as discouraged practices or red flags. Check for over-optimized, low-quality pages and content. Verify internal linking structure and navigation to ensure intuitive user experience. Use the Google Search Console URL Inspection Tool to surface technical SEO bugs across your site too. Stay on top of any weaknesses search engines may penalize further after updates.

Focus on User Experience

While algorithm changes evaluate technical implementation, the ultimate goal is high quality results for searchers. Ensuring an intuitive, frictionless user experience will serve your site well through algorithm fluctuations. Test different facets like site speed, page load times, and mobile friendliness. Make sure your content answers user questions helpfully without being too promotional. Pay attention to engagement metrics like bounce rates, time on page, exit page reports to surface experience problems in need of improvement.

Use Structured Data Markup

Adding schema.org structured data markup enhances how search engines understand and represent your pages in search results. As algorithms advance, this metadata becomes increasingly important for factors like featured snippets eligibility, video previews in image results, and product pages in shopping results. Make schema a priority by validating markup with the Structured Data Testing Tool and regularly reassessing new entity types that may apply to your content.

Cultivate Backlinks Ethically

While irrelevant links won’t help you, earning new backlinks from authoritative sources remains a useful means of expanding your domains’ footprint, just don’t do it artificially or deceptively. Look for opportunities to publish helpful guides, case studies and other types of contribution content on industry sites. Build rapport with influencers and media by pitching tailored story ideas. Foster scholarly citations with well-researched content. Interlink between your own properties cohesively too.

Prioritize Original, In-Depth Content

Regularly publish proprietary research, datasets and long-form content unsuitable for scraping or rewriting elsewhere. Going beyond headlines shows search engines your site seeks to inform users rather than merely aggregate news. Try answering “why” and “how” better than competitors. Generate unique multimedia assets like interactive visuals and downloadables for embedding. Promote exclusives through social media and digital PR for new inbound links too.

Monitor Rankings During Rollouts

When search engines announce algorithm updates, closely monitor real-time rankings, traffic, and search appearance changes through tools like SERP Tracking and Google Search Console. Pay special attention to historically vulnerable pages for sudden declines. This will help identify devaluations in need of tackling before they impact bottom lines for too long. Quick fixes during rollout windows can soften downturn severity. Maintain dialogue with SEO colleagues to surfaces red flags across industries and clients.

Emphasize Voice Search Optimization

With the rise of conversational queries, optimizing for relevance in voice results grows increasingly important. Test your top pages and FAQs using Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri to experience how users may interact with your content through speech. Address any issues with disorganized answers, verbosity or lack of call-to-actions. Include appropriate triggers, entities, actions and rich results structured data. Consider creating tailored voice content too where print formats lack auditory adaptability.

Prioritize Mobile Page Speed

Modern algorithms evaluate responsiveness and performance more stringently, especially on mobile where search happens increasingly on the go. Make page speed a top priority through measures like image optimization, caching, magnification, code splitting and CDN implementation. Use Lighthouse audits to analyze bottlenecks and third party tools like GTmetrix to benchmark improvements. Address any sluggish pages, as speed directly impacts the quality of the user experience and search signals sent as a result.

Test Keywords & Topics Regularly

Set aside time to experiment testing new long-tail keywords and associated topics for opportunities your existing content may not cover well enough yet. Try publishing shorter, targeted pieces to gather search intent signals. Evaluate them over months for ranking traction or necessary adjustments to fully answer users’ questions. While algorithm updates can’t be predicted exactly, expanding keyword authority proactively supplements existing rankings with newfound resilience.

By implementing a combination of these preparation strategies regularly, sites can build defenses against unexpected ranking fluctuations thanks to search engine algorithm changes. An ongoing cycle of assessment, enhancement and innovation cultivates quality signals to weather periodic tweaks more gracefully long-term.

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