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Local SEO Trends, Tips & New Technologies: Q&A With Joy Hawkins

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Local SEO Trends, Tips & New Technologies: Q&A With Joy Hawkins

We’re just coming off the back of a year in which the continuing pandemic resulted in budget cuts, strategy issues, and a lack of resources to challenged SEO professionals at every level.

Many are focused more on being prepared to pivot than having a plan set in stone for the year ahead.

This is particularly important in local search, where consumer behaviors change quickly and Google updates can have swift, wide-ranging impacts.

What trends and technologies should you have on your radar to inform a more agile, adaptive local SEO strategy going forward?

Joy Hawkins is the owner and founder of local SEO agency Sterling Sky. She’s a Google Business Profile Product Expert, a well-known and respected industry writer and speaker, and a faculty member at Local U.

In this Q&A-style interview, Joy shares her advice on where marketing leaders should focus their local SEO attention this year, which SEO technologies she’s getting excited about, how to build a career in local SEO, and more.

Local Trends To Watch In 2022

Miranda Miller: “What are the local SEO trends that CMOs should really keep an eye on this year?”

Joy Hawkins: “Google rolled out an algorithm update near the end of 2021 that caused some serious fluctuations for local businesses.

We dubbed this the ‘Vicinity Update’ since the greatest impact at the time seemed to be a client’s ability to rank further away from their physical location.

Google appears to have given significantly more weight to where a business is located and to proximity.

If this update sticks, it’s important to look at the competition closest to your clients – especially if they are now appearing in the 3-pack – to see what they are doing that your client is not.

Google has been ramping up the LSA (Local Service Ad) program in the last few years, so there’s a good chance we’ll continue to see that platform continue to grow and expand throughout 2022.

If your clients aren’t using this outlet, I would recommend taking a second look at it.

We’re also seeing a lot more image results in SERPs than we ever used to, both on mobile and desktop.

Paying attention to the images you use, particularly on your best-performing pages, would be a wise decision.”

Local Optimizations To Focus On (And Where To Let Go)

Miranda Miller: “Are there any local optimizations or tactics you feel marketers tend to spend more time on than they should – or even something we should let go completely for 2022?”

Joy Hawkins: “Up until the Vicinity Algorithm Update, there was an understanding that having a keyword-rich name was a huge boost for clients wanting to show up in the 3-pack for a wide geographic spread.

But that is just no longer the case.

From the data we’ve looked at, businesses that had keyword-heavy names coupled with a large proximity reach took the biggest hit.

It’s a little early to say with certainty that adding keyword descriptors to names no longer works.

But for the time being, I would say it’s a tactic that marketers can definitely throttle back on.

Another tactic that we’ve proven time and time again offers no value is geotagging images.

When you geotag images, the information is stripped from the image during the upload process so it’s useless to spend time adding it in.

It’s time to let that one die.”

Embracing AI Content Creation Technology

Miranda Miller: “Are there any new or developing local SEO technologies you’re particularly excited about?”

Joy Hawkins: “Content is such an important part of SEO, especially creating valuable content that is of high quality.

But it can be a challenge for content creators to come up with unique things to say about certain topics.

For example, how much can you really write about concrete repairs?

Within the last year or so, we’ve noticed a big improvement in AI capabilities when it comes to content writing. Now there are a number of AI writing services on the market to choose from, such as Peppertype.ai, Rytr.me, or Writesonic.

We’ve found that these services are a fantastic way to help our content writers get started when they are feeling blocked.

I wouldn’t turn content writing fully over to AI, since the content they create still needs to be cleaned up and refined. But these services are incredibly useful as a jumping-off point.

Another tool we just started using is the Transparency Company.

Fake reviews are a really tough – but common – challenge in the local search space.

It’s great to have a tool that helps you determine what competitors might be buying reviews on Google.”

The Pros & Cons Of A Local SEO Career

Miranda Miller: “What are the most challenging and enjoyable parts of the work you do day-to-day?”

Joy Hawkins: “The best thing about my day is the people I work with. I work with a fantastic group of people who care about giving their all for our clients and who are invested in the gains we can make for our clients.

Getting to work with them and bounce ideas off of each other is definitely one of the most enjoyable parts of my working day.

I’ve also always been a person who enjoys digging into data, looking at numbers, trying to figure out mysteries, and that kind of thing.

SEO is this constantly shifting puzzle to be worked out as the pieces keep changing shape, size, and color. I find it both challenging and enjoyable to try to determine how these puzzle pieces fit together.

As far as what is challenging, I’d also say it’s really hard sometimes to balance running a business with all the volunteer work I do.

Being a Google Product Expert means that I’m constantly helping out users on the Google Forum. This often results in a lot of people emailing or tagging me on Twitter, as well.

Being a volunteer and managing expectations is not for the faint of heart.”

Local SEO Career-Building Advice

Miranda Miller: “What tips or advice do you have for those just getting started in their local SEO careers?”

Joy Hawkins:SEO is constantly changing. If the November update taught us anything, it’s that you can’t count on a strategy to work forever.

If you are getting into the SEO industry, it’s important to read about the newest and latest trends so that you have an understanding of where the industry is at and to craft strategies using that information.

Even so, it’s important that you hold those strategies with loose hands. At some point, there’s a good chance they will stop working and you will have to adapt.

I recommend always employing a number of different SEO strategies so that if one stops working, you don’t have all your eggs in that basket.

I would also suggest networking with others in the industry as much as possible.

There are some really excellent minds in the SEO world, and it’s an amazing opportunity to be able to learn from them through blogs, forums, conferences, and even social media posts.”

More resources:


Featured Image: Courtesy of Sterling Sky Inc.




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Google’s AI Vision Driven By Panic, Not Users: Former Product Manager

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Hand pressing the red button. vector illustration

A 16-year Google veteran is raising concerns about the company’s current focus on AI, labeling it a “panic reaction” driven by fear of falling behind competitors.

Scott Jenson, who left Google last month, took to LinkedIn to critique the tech giant’s AI projects as “poorly motivated and driven by this mindless panic that as long as it had ‘AI’ in it, it would be great.”

Veteran’s Criticism Of Google’s AI Focus

Jenson stated that Google’s vision of creating an AI assistant for its ecosystem is “pure catnip” fueled by the fear of letting someone else get there first.

He parallels the ill-fated Google+ product, which he calls a “similar hysterical reaction” to Facebook’s rise.

Jenson wrote:

“This exact thing happened 13 years ago with Google+ (I was there for that fiasco as well). That was a similar hysterical reaction but to Facebook.”

Lack Of User-Driven Motivation

Jenson argues that Google’s strategy lacks motivation driven by genuine user needs, a sentiment echoed by a recent Gizmodo article that described this year’s Google I/O developer conference as “the most boring ever.”

The article, which Jenson linked to in his post, criticized Google for failing to clarify how Gemini’s new AI technology would integrate into its existing products and enhance the user experience.

See Jenson’s full post below:

Can You Turn Off Google’s AI Overviews?

One prime example of Google’s AI overreach is the AI overviews feature, which generates summaries to directly answer search queries by ingesting information from across the web.

This controversial move has sparked legal battles, with publishers accusing Google of violating intellectual property rights and unfairly profiting from their content without permission.

Related: Google’s AI Overviews Documentation: Key SEO Insights

Turning Off AI Overviews

While Google doesn’t provide an official setting to turn off AI overviews, a viral article from Tom’s Hardware suggests using browser extensions.

Alternatively, you can configure Chrome to go directly to web search results, bypassing the AI-generated overviews.

Here are the steps:

  • Open Chrome settings by clicking the three dots in the top-right corner and selecting “Settings” from the menu.
  • In the Settings window, click on the “Search Engine” tab on the left side.
  • Under the “Search Engine” section, click “Manage search engines and site search.”
  • Scroll down to the “Site search” area and click “Add” to create a new entry.

In the new entry, enter the following details:

  • Name: Google (Web)
  • Shortcut: www.google.com
  • URL: {google:baseURL}/search?udm=14&q=%s
  • Click “Add
Screenshot from: chrome://settings/searchEngines, May 2024.

Lastly, click the three dots next to the new “Google (Web)” entry and select “Make default.”

1716224163 590 Googles AI Vision Driven By Panic Not Users Former ProductScreenshot from: chrome://settings/searchEngines, May 2024.

After following these steps, Chrome will now default to showing regular web search results instead of the AI overview summaries when you perform searches from the address bar.

Tensions Over Data Usage

The controversy surrounding AI overviews creates tension between tech companies and content creators over using online data for AI training.

Publishers argue that Google’s AI summaries could siphon website traffic, threatening independent creators’ revenue streams, which rely on search referrals.

The debate reflects the need for updated frameworks to balance innovation and fair compensation for content creators, maintaining a sustainable open internet ecosystem.


FAQ

What concerns has Scott Jenson raised about Google’s AI focus?

Scott Jenson, a former Google product manager, has expressed concerns that Google’s current AI focus is more of a “panic reaction” to stay ahead of competitors rather than addressing user needs. He critiques Google’s AI initiatives as poorly motivated and driven by a fear of letting others get ahead.

How does Scott Jenson compare Google’s AI strategy to past projects?

Jenson parallels Google’s current AI focus and the company’s response to Facebook years ago with Google+. He describes both as “hysterical reactions” driven by competition, which, in the case of Google+, resulted in a product that failed to meet its objectives.

Why are content creators concerned about Google’s AI overviews?

Content creators worry that Google’s AI overviews, which generate summaries by ingesting web content, could reduce site traffic. They argue that this practice is unfair as it uses their content without permission and impacts their revenue streams that rely on search referrals.

How can users turn off Google’s AI overviews in Chrome?

Although no official setting exists to disable AI overviews, users can use a workaround by enabling a specific Chrome setting or using a browser extension.

Here are the steps:

  • Open Chrome settings by clicking the three dots in the top-right corner and selecting “Settings” from the menu.
  • In the Settings window, click on the “Search Engine” tab on the left side.
  • Under the “Search Engine” section, click “Manage search engines and site search.”
  • Scroll down to the “Site search” area and click “Add” to create a new entry.

In the new entry, enter the following details:

    • Name: Google (Web)
    • Shortcut: www.google.com
    • URL: {google:baseURL}/search?udm=14&q=%s
    • Click “Add

This will force Chrome to skip AI-generated overviews and show the classic list of web links.


Featured Image: Sira Anamwong/Shutterstock

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How To Use ChatGPT For Keyword Research

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How To Use ChatGPT For Keyword Research

Anyone not using ChatGPT for keyword research is missing a trick.

You can save time and understand an entire topic in seconds instead of hours.

In this article, I outline my most effective ChatGPT prompts for keyword research and teach you how I put them together so that you, too, can take, edit, and enhance them even further.

But before we jump into the prompts, I want to emphasize that you shouldn’t replace keyword research tools or disregard traditional keyword research methods.

ChatGPT can make mistakes. It can even create new keywords if you give it the right prompt. For example, I asked it to provide me with a unique keyword for the topic “SEO” that had never been searched before.

Interstellar Internet SEO: Optimizing content for the theoretical concept of an interstellar internet, considering the challenges of space-time and interplanetary communication delays.”

Although I want to jump into my LinkedIn profile and update my title to “Interstellar Internet SEO Consultant,” unfortunately, no one has searched that (and they probably never will)!

You must not blindly rely on the data you get back from ChatGPT.

What you can rely on ChatGPT for is the topic ideation stage of keyword research and inspiration.

ChatGPT is a large language model trained with massive amounts of data to accurately predict what word will come next in a sentence. However, it does not know how to do keyword research yet.

Instead, think of ChatGPT as having an expert on any topic armed with the information if you ask it the right question.

In this guide, that is exactly what I aim to teach you how to do – the most essential prompts you need to know when performing topical keyword research.

Best ChatGPT Keyword Research Prompts

The following ChatGPT keyword research prompts can be used on any niche, even a topic to which you are brand new.

For this demonstration, let’s use the topic of “SEO” to demonstrate these prompts.

Generating Keyword Ideas Based On A Topic

What Are The {X} Most Popular Sub-topics Related To {Topic}?

Screenshot from ChatGPT 4, April 2024

The first prompt is to give you an idea of the niche.

As shown above, ChatGPT did a great job understanding and breaking down SEO into three pillars: on-page, off-page & technical.

The key to the following prompt is to take one of the topics ChatGPT has given and query the sub-topics.

What Are The {X} Most Popular Sub-topics Related To {Sub-topic}?

For this example, let’s query, “What are the most popular sub-topics related to keyword research?”

Having done keyword research for over 10 years, I would expect it to output information related to keyword research metrics, the types of keywords, and intent.

Let’s see.

ChatGPT keyword prompt subtopicScreenshot from ChatGPT 4, April 2024

Again, right on the money.

To get the keywords you want without having ChatGPT describe each answer, use the prompt “list without description.”

Here is an example of that.

List Without Description The Top {X} Most Popular Keywords For The Topic Of {X}chatgpt keyword research prompt for most popular keywords

You can even branch these keywords out further into their long-tail.

Example prompt:

List Without Description The Top {X} Most Popular Long-tail Keywords For The Topic “{X}”

chatgpt keyword research prompt longtail keywordsScreenshot ChatGPT 4,April 2024

List Without Description The Top Semantically Related Keywords And Entities For The Topic {X}

You can even ask ChatGPT what any topic’s semantically related keywords and entities are!

chatgpt keyword research semantic intentScreenshot ChatGPT 4, April 2024

Tip: The Onion Method Of Prompting ChatGPT

When you are happy with a series of prompts, add them all to one prompt. For example, so far in this article, we have asked ChatGPT the following:

  • What are the four most popular sub-topics related to SEO?
  • What are the four most popular sub-topics related to keyword research
  • List without description the top five most popular keywords for “keyword intent”?
  • List without description the top five most popular long-tail keywords for the topic “keyword intent types”?
  • List without description the top semantically related keywords and entities for the topic “types of keyword intent in SEO.”

Combine all five into one prompt by telling ChatGPT to perform a series of steps. Example:

“Perform the following steps in a consecutive order Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, Step 4, and Step 5”

Example:

“Perform the following steps in a consecutive order Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, Step 4 and Step 5. Step 1 – Generate an answer for the 3 most popular sub-topics related to {Topic}?. Step 2 – Generate 3 of the most popular sub-topics related to each answer. Step 3 – Take those answers and list without description their top 3 most popular keywords. Step 4 – For the answers given of their most popular keywords, provide 3 long-tail keywords. Step 5 – for each long-tail keyword offered in the response, a list without descriptions 3 of their top semantically related keywords and entities.”

Generating Keyword Ideas Based On A Question

Taking the steps approach from above, we can get ChatGPT to help streamline getting keyword ideas based on a question. For example, let’s ask, “What is SEO?

“Perform the following steps in a consecutive order Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, and Step 4. Step 1 Generate 10 questions about “{Question}”?. Step 2 – Generate 5 more questions about “{Question}” that do not repeat the above. Step 3 – Generate 5 more questions about “{Question}” that do not repeat the above. Step 4 – Based on the above Steps 1,2,3 suggest a final list of questions avoiding duplicates or semantically similar questions.”

chatgpt for question keyword researchScreenshot ChatGPT 4, April 2024

Generating Keyword Ideas Using ChatGPT Based On The Alphabet Soup Method

One of my favorite methods, manually, without even using a keyword research tool, is to generate keyword research ideas from Google autocomplete, going from A to Z.

Generating Keyword Ideas using ChatGPT Based on the Alphabet Soup MethodScreenshot from Google autocomplete, April 2024

You can also do this using ChatGPT.

Example prompt:

“give me popular keywords that includes the keyword “SEO”, and the next letter of the word starts with a”

ChatGPT Alphabet keyword research methodScreenshot from ChatGPT 4, April 2024

Tip: Using the onion prompting method above, we can combine all this in one prompt.

“Give me five popular keywords that include “SEO” in the word, and the following letter starts with a. Once the answer has been done, move on to giving five more popular keywords that include “SEO” for each letter of the alphabet b to z.”

Generating Keyword Ideas Based On User Personas

When it comes to keyword research, understanding user personas is essential for understanding your target audience and keeping your keyword research focused and targeted. ChatGPT may help you get an initial understanding of customer personas.

Example prompt:

“For the topic of “{Topic}” list 10 keywords each for the different types of user personas”

ChatGPT and user personasScreenshot from ChatGPT 4, April 2024

You could even go a step further and ask for questions based on those topics that those specific user personas may be searching for:

ChatGPT and keyword research based on personaScreenshot ChatGPT 4, April 2024

As well as get the keywords to target based on those questions:

“For each question listed above for each persona, list the keywords, as well as the long-tail keywords to target, and put them in a table”

question and longtail and user persona using a table for ChatGPT keyword researchScreenshot from ChatGPT 4, April 2024

Generating Keyword Ideas Using ChatGPT Based On Searcher Intent And User Personas

Understanding the keywords your target persona may be searching is the first step to effective keyword research. The next step is to understand the search intent behind those keywords and which content format may work best.

For example, a business owner who is new to SEO or has just heard about it may be searching for “what is SEO.”

However, if they are further down the funnel and in the navigational stage, they may search for “top SEO firms.”

You can query ChatGPT to inspire you here based on any topic and your target user persona.

SEO Example:

“For the topic of “{Topic}” list 10 keywords each for the different types of searcher intent that a {Target Persona} would be searching for”

ChatGPT For Keyword Research Admin

Here is how you can best use ChatGPT for keyword research admin tasks.

Using ChatGPT As A Keyword Categorization Tool

One of the use cases for using ChatGPT is for keyword categorization.

In the past, I would have had to devise spreadsheet formulas to categorize keywords or even spend hours filtering and manually categorizing keywords.

ChatGPT can be a great companion for running a short version of this for you.

Let’s say you have done keyword research in a keyword research tool, have a list of keywords, and want to categorize them.

You could use the following prompt:

“Filter the below list of keywords into categories, target persona, searcher intent, search volume and add information to a six-column table: List of keywords – [LIST OF KEYWORDS], Keyword Search Volume [SEARCH VOLUMES] and Keyword Difficulties [KEYWORD DIFFICUTIES].”

Using Chat GPT as a Keyword Categorization ToolScreenshot from ChatGPT, April 2024

Tip: Add keyword metrics from the keyword research tools, as using the search volumes that a ChatGPT prompt may give you will be wildly inaccurate at best.

Using ChatGPT For Keyword Clustering

Another of ChatGPT’s use cases for keyword research is to help you cluster. Many keywords have the same intent, and by grouping related keywords, you may find that one piece of content can often target multiple keywords at once.

However, be careful not to rely only on LLM data for clustering. What ChatGPT may cluster as a similar keyword, the SERP or the user may not agree with. But it is a good starting point.

The big downside of using ChatGPT for keyword clustering is actually the amount of keyword data you can cluster based on the memory limits.

So, you may find a keyword clustering tool or script that is better for large keyword clustering tasks. But for small amounts of keywords, ChatGPT is actually quite good.

A great use small keyword clustering use case using ChatGPT is for grouping People Also Ask (PAA) questions.

Use the following prompt to group keywords based on their semantic relationships. For example:

“Organize the following keywords into groups based on their semantic relationships, and give a short name to each group: [LIST OF PAA], create a two-column table where each keyword sits on its own row.

Using Chat GPT For Keyword ClusteringScreenshot from ChatGPT, April 2024

Using Chat GPT For Keyword Expansion By Patterns

One of my favorite methods of doing keyword research is pattern spotting.

Most seed keywords have a variable that can expand your target keywords.

Here are a few examples of patterns:

1. Question Patterns

(who, what, where, why, how, are, can, do, does, will)

“Generate [X] keywords for the topic “[Topic]” that contain any or all of the following “who, what, where, why, how, are, can, do, does, will”

question based keywords keyword research ChatGPTScreenshot ChatGPT 4, April 2024

2. Comparison Patterns

Example:

“Generate 50 keywords for the topic “{Topic}” that contain any or all of the following “for, vs, alternative, best, top, review”

chatgpt comparison patterns for keyword researchScreenshot ChatGPT 4, April 2024

3. Brand Patterns

Another one of my favorite modifiers is a keyword by brand.

We are probably all familiar with the most popular SEO brands; however, if you aren’t, you could ask your AI friend to do the heavy lifting.

Example prompt:

“For the top {Topic} brands what are the top “vs” keywords”

ChatGPT brand patterns promptScreenshot ChatGPT 4, April 2024

4. Search Intent Patterns

One of the most common search intent patterns is “best.”

When someone is searching for a “best {topic}” keyword, they are generally searching for a comprehensive list or guide that highlights the top options, products, or services within that specific topic, along with their features, benefits, and potential drawbacks, to make an informed decision.

Example:

“For the topic of “[Topic]” what are the 20 top keywords that include “best”

ChatGPT best based keyword researchScreenshot ChatGPT 4, April 2024

Again, this guide to keyword research using ChatGPT has emphasized the ease of generating keyword research ideas by utilizing ChatGPT throughout the process.

Keyword Research Using ChatGPT Vs. Keyword Research Tools

Free Vs. Paid Keyword Research Tools

Like keyword research tools, ChatGPT has free and paid options.

However, one of the most significant drawbacks of using ChatGPT for keyword research alone is the absence of SEO metrics to help you make smarter decisions.

To improve accuracy, you could take the results it gives you and verify them with your classic keyword research tool – or vice versa, as shown above, uploading accurate data into the tool and then prompting.

However, you must consider how long it takes to type and fine-tune your prompt to get your desired data versus using the filters within popular keyword research tools.

For example, if we use a popular keyword research tool using filters, you could have all of the “best” queries with all of their SEO metrics:

ahrefs screenshot for best seoScreenshot from Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, March 2024

And unlike ChatGPT, generally, there is no token limit; you can extract several hundred, if not thousands, of keywords at a time.

As I have mentioned multiple times throughout this piece, you cannot blindly trust the data or SEO metrics it may attempt to provide you with.

The key is to validate the keyword research with a keyword research tool.

ChatGPT For International SEO Keyword Research

ChatGPT can be a terrific multilingual keyword research assistant.

For example, if you wanted to research keywords in a foreign language such as French. You could ask ChatGPT to translate your English keywords;

translating keywords with ChatGPTScreenshot ChatGPT 4, Apil 2024
The key is to take the data above and paste it into a popular keyword research tool to verify.
As you can see below, many of the keyword translations for the English keywords do not have any search volume for direct translations in French.
verifying the data with ahrefsScreenshot from Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, April 2024

But don’t worry, there is a workaround: If you have access to a competitor keyword research tool, you can see what webpage is ranking for that query – and then identify the top keyword for that page based on the ChatGPT translated keywords that do have search volume.

top keyword from ahrefs keyword explorerScreenshot from Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, April 2024

Or, if you don’t have access to a paid keyword research tool, you could always take the top-performing result, extract the page copy, and then ask ChatGPT what the primary keyword for the page is.

Key Takeaway

ChatGPT can be an expert on any topic and an invaluable keyword research tool. However, it is another tool to add to your toolbox when doing keyword research; it does not replace traditional keyword research tools.

As shown throughout this tutorial, from making up keywords at the beginning to inaccuracies around data and translations, ChatGPT can make mistakes when used for keyword research.

You cannot blindly trust the data you get back from ChatGPT.

However, it can offer a shortcut to understanding any topic for which you need to do keyword research and, as a result, save you countless hours.

But the key is how you prompt.

The prompts I shared with you above will help you understand a topic in minutes instead of hours and allow you to better seed keywords using keyword research tools.

It can even replace mundane keyword clustering tasks that you used to do with formulas in spreadsheets or generate ideas based on keywords you give it.

Paired with traditional keyword research tools, ChatGPT for keyword research can be a powerful tool in your arsenal.

More resources:


Featured Image: Tatiana Shepeleva/Shutterstock

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Google Hints At Improving Site Rankings In Next Update

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Google Hints At Improving Site Rankings In Next Update

Google’s John Mueller says the Search team is “explicitly evaluating” how to reward sites that produce helpful, high-quality content when the next core update rolls out.

The comments came in response to a discussion on X about the impact of March’s core update and September’s helpful content update.

In a series of tweets, Mueller acknowledged the concerns, stating:

“I imagine for most sites strongly affected, the effects will be site-wide for the time being, and it will take until the next update to see similar strong effects (assuming the new state of the site is significantly better than before).”

He added:

“I can’t make any promises, but the team working on this is explicitly evaluating how sites can / will improve in Search for the next update. It would be great to show more users the content that folks have worked hard on, and where sites have taken helpfulness to heart.”

What Does This Mean For SEO Professionals & Site Owners?

Mueller’s comments confirm Google is aware of critiques about the March core update and is refining its ability to identify high-quality sites and reward them appropriately in the next core update.

For websites, clearly demonstrating an authentic commitment to producing helpful and high-quality content remains the best strategy for improving search performance under Google’s evolving systems.

The Aftermath Of Google’s Core Updates

Google’s algorithm updates, including the September “Helpful Content Update” and the March 2024 update, have far-reaching impacts on rankings across industries.

While some sites experienced surges in traffic, others faced substantial declines, with some reporting visibility losses of up to 90%.

As website owners implement changes to align with Google’s guidelines, many question whether their efforts will be rewarded.

There’s genuine concern about the potential for long-term or permanent demotions for affected sites.

Recovery Pathway Outlined, But Challenges Remain

In a previous statement, Mueller acknowledged the complexity of the recovery process, stating that:

“some things take much longer to be reassessed (sometimes months, at the moment), and some bigger effects require another update cycle.”

Mueller clarified that not all changes would require a new update cycle but cautioned that “stronger effects will require another update.”

While affirming that permanent changes are “not very useful in a dynamic world,” Mueller adds that “recovery” implies a return to previous levels, which may be unrealistic given evolving user expectations.

“It’s never ‘just-as-before’,” Mueller stated.

Improved Rankings On The Horizon?

Despite the challenges, Mueller has offered glimmers of hope for impacted sites, stating:

“Yes, sites can grow again after being affected by the ‘HCU’ (well, core update now). This isn’t permanent. It can take a lot of work, time, and perhaps update cycles, and/but a different – updated – site will be different in search too.”

He says the process may require “deep analysis to understand how to make a website relevant in a modern world, and significant work to implement those changes — assuming that it’s something that aligns with what the website even wants.”

Looking Ahead

Google’s search team is actively working on improving site rankings and addressing concerns with the next core update.

However, recovery requires patience, thorough analysis, and persistent effort.

The best way to spend your time until the next update is to remain consistent and produce the most exceptional content in your niche.


FAQ

How long does it generally take for a website to recover from the impact of a core update?

Recovery timelines can vary and depend on the extent and type of updates made to align with Google’s guidelines.

Google’s John Mueller noted that some changes might be reassessed quickly, while more substantial effects could take months and require additional update cycles.

Google acknowledges the complexity of the recovery process, indicating that significant improvements aligned with Google’s quality signals might be necessary for a more pronounced recovery.

What impact did the March and September updates have on websites, and what steps should site owners take?

The March and September updates had widespread effects on website rankings, with some sites experiencing traffic surges while others faced up to 90% visibility losses.

Publishing genuinely useful, high-quality content is key for website owners who want to bounce back from a ranking drop or maintain strong rankings. Stick to Google’s recommendations and adapt as they keep updating their systems.

To minimize future disruptions from algorithm changes, it’s a good idea to review your whole site thoroughly and build a content plan centered on what your users want and need.

Is it possible for sites affected by core updates to regain their previous ranking positions?

Sites can recover from the impact of core updates, but it requires significant effort and time.

Mueller suggested that recovery might happen over multiple update cycles and involves a deep analysis to align the site with current user expectations and modern search criteria.

While a return to previous levels isn’t guaranteed, sites can improve and grow by continually enhancing the quality and relevance of their content.


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