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Peak Ace on Air #47: Google Update Marathon

After taking the week off, Peak Ace on Air is back – and boy, do we have a lot to talk about. After months of silence, Google is pushing out multiple updates this summer.  Originally, this episode was only going to cover the Page Experience update, but we quickly noticed that Google has given us four other updates to talk about as well. 

Hold on tight, this is a packed episode!

SMX Advanced Europe at the Peak Ace office

Before we get to the updates, we should fill you in on the reason we were off-air last week: Peak Ace was the Berlin hub of the SMX Advanced conference. That’s right! We hosted an event! With people talking in person, not only through their laptops from home! Although it wasn’t a fully in-person event, we did have some external people in to the office. It really gave us a glimpse of what it might be like to be at (and maybe even host!) an actual live conference again one day.

The conference – which was hybrid, at least for the speakers – took place over two days, in which time multiple speeches were given on the topics of SEO and PPC. Bastian gave a technical SEO talk, of course, and our own Head of PPC, Julia, took to the virtual stage as well. If you didn’t get to attend the conference, check out our recaps of day 1 and day 2 to get a glimpse into what went down. 

Now let’s dive in into the world of recent Google updates. 

Google updates status quo: core updates 1 & 2 and the Page Experience update

Google is constantly tweaking its services here and there, so there are probably loads of unknown changes happening all the time. However, it does all of a sudden feel like five big updates (or at least announcements) have almost snuck up on us one after another after a six month break from Google’s changes. 

The biggest updates are the first core update from early June and the second one, which is due to be rolled out in July. The much-anticipated Page Experience update is also being rolled out as we type, and is due to be finished in August. Two other smaller updates have also been rolled out recently – but more about them later.

It’s interesting that time Google is rolling out two core updates so quickly, one after another. Bastian speculated on whether Google needed to launch a “basis” update first, so that some other updates could later build on top of those basic elements – and possibly even tweak the impact of the first one. There isn’t too much information about the second update available, so we can only speculate at this moment.

Additionally, the Page Experience update’s actual impact has been heavily discussed in the SEO community, and also on many of our previous episodes. However, it’s not expected to have the massive impact that one might expect when looking at Google’s own advertising for it. 

Sistrix’s update analysis and their free visibility tool

Our friends at Sistrix covered the June update nicely (article in German). As always, it’s interesting to see their analysis of the “winners and losers”. You can also see how websites in certain industries (they use the example of a few travel websites) have seen the same kind of fluctuations.

Sistrix also emphasised that the impact of the Page Experience update will most likely not be that significant. In fact, we probably won’t be seeing many clear winners and losers this time – the update will most likely “only” be a tie-braker. We can speculate that if all the other ranking factors are equal, the site with the best page experience will rank higher, so page experience as a ranking factor would only play a smart role in the failures and successes of websites after the update.

Sistrix also has a great free tool for measuring website’s (or domain’s) visibility over time. It shows all known Google updates so you can see how your domains’ (or your competitors’ domains’) visibility has been correlating with these updates.

Aftermath of the updates: less visibility fluctuations

What Bastian also found interesting is that the huge fluctuations in domain visibilities might be less prominent this time. We are used to seeing certain industries going up, then down with the second update, and back up again after the third update, or vice versa. So maybe this time Google is trying something new. Maybe they are trying to limit the massive fluctuations, so that eventually visibility goes back to the starting point.

Semrush also wrote a blog piece about the possible aftermath of the June update. They did a category breakdown and also a breakdown by website size, so it’s definitely an interesting article about the implications of the update – and yes, this one has the winners and losers. It’s not as in-depth as Sistrix’s, but it’s in English so a good read for the non-German speakers out there.

How Google updates can affect rich snippets

Nothing is completely safe from the Google updates, not even rich snippets. Glenn Gabe from GSQi wrote an article about what the impact on rich snippets could be. The post is very thorough, covering the updates from the point of losing some or all rich snippets, and that just means less information shown on Google. In the worst case, this could result in losing important clicks to the site. Some of the data is from the update in May 2020, but it still showcases that if it has happened before, it can happen again (like a sequel to any good popular film).

Google Search’s update on fighting online spam

Some website managers might have spotted some ranking changes around the 23rd of June. That was the day when Google rolled out a spam update, as Search Engine Land reported, and there will be a second one rolling out next week, as also covered by Search Engine Land. This means that as we were recording our episode, the second version update was being rolled out! The update is global and impacts both web and image results.

Last year, Google posted an article about how they are fighting spam which they also linked in this new spam update communication. They don’t just want to penalise spammers, but also develop an intelligent system that prevents spammy content from being published altogether. That doesn’t just mean suspicious content either; Google also made changes to the number of FAQs they were showing in the search results. The amount of these was starting to get out of hand and really hurt usability.

It’s good to see Google correcting themselves and working on how they display information!

Content quality and author profiles

At the end of the episode, Bastian and Domi discussed how Google has been putting more and more emphasis on content quality throughout their updates. The E-A-T model of building up your website’s expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness has been prominent for some time now.

Kevin Indig, the Head of SEO at Shopify, recently caused some waves on Twitter. He basically implied that non-professional content is eventually going to die out. To put this more diplomatically, Indig means that there will be even more emphasis on the expert status of your content and that, as a result, the people publishing content on your website should also be considered experts. Indiq states later in his article that a topic expert can also be an amateur who has deep-level knowledge about the subject. So you don’t have to have a degree in film-making in order to be an expert on movies, you just need to show that you know what you are talking about.

And how do you show that you’re an expert? By constantly putting out high-level content, regardless of the industry you’re in. This is, of course, not cheap – nothing high-quality is. Becoming a topic authority is also time-consuming, and your experts almost certainly have other things to do than just speaking at your webinars or writing e-books.

If writing high-quality content and putting it out there isn’t necessarily your company’s expertise or core business, you should get expert help. But, hey! You just happen to be reading a blog post from experts! Do get in touch with us if you want help becoming a thought leader in your niche.

And that’s a wrap! We thought summer would be the time that things quietened down a bit, but not in the Google world! Next week we will be taking another break, but you can catch us the week after that for even more content. See you then!

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