Identifying Impacts from Search Engine Algorithm Updates

Rick HobergSEOLeave a Comment

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As search engines continue to evolve, it is becoming more important than ever to monitor organic traffic to your website. While some webmasters and SEOs will argue that as long as you are employing white hat tactics, you don’t need to monitor your traffic and rankings, I’m not completely sold. In fact, I think that in most cases this thought process is an oversimplification of a much more complicated process. If you’ve been in the corporate world for long enough it is easy to see just how many different individuals have control over, or at least input into that company’s web properties. Meaning that it is not all that unlikely that at some point in the life of the website, something grey, or even outright blackhat, found its way onto the website (or someone else’s – link purchasing!). Throw mergers into the mix and you’ve got a whole nother animal. When one domain is 301 redirected to another, the destination domain is going to inherit everything, good or bad, from the redirecting domain – authority, PageRank, penalties, purchased links, etc. No matter how white hat your methods are, given the wealth of unknowns floating around, is it really safe to assume that your organic metrics don’t need to be regularly monitored?

How Can I Tell if my Site Has Been Affected by an Update?

According to Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s webspam department, Google updates their algorithm upwards of 500 times per year. Couple that with seasonal changes in search traffic, as well as the evolution of search terminology, and you’ve got quite a difficult task at hand. Here are some tips on getting started:

Google Analytics

Monitor the organic traffic in your analytics profile. While comparing week over week, month over month, or even quarter over quarter, can reveal a penalty, it is often times best to view a visual representation of the data. The greater the length of time you can view, the more noticeable the change. Here are some examples:

Example Site Alpha

Six Month View:

 

Twenty-Four Month View:

Example Site Beta

Six Month View:

Thirty-Six Month View:

AlgoSleuth

Use AlgoSleuth to narrow down which updates your site has been affected by. AlgoSleuth is a great (and free!) tool that allows you to compare your Google Analytics data to a pre-built timeline of Google algorithm updates. The tool pulls organic traffic data from from your analytics profile and compares the 30 days leading up to an algorithm update to the 30 days following the update. In each of the prior two examples, we can without a doubt conclude that two sites were affected by one or more updates.

Example Site Alpha

AlgoSleuth Data Output:

AlgoSleuth Graph:

Example Site Beta

AlgoSleuth Data Output:

AlgoSleuth Graph:

OK, my site has been affected – What do I do now?

With the wealth of information available online, it is more than possible to narrow down the root cause of the impact, address the problem, and recover your site from the depths of a Google update. But it should be noted that often times the solution is not a simple one. What you anticipate to be a small job can quickly turn into an extremely time consuming process that is best left to an experienced search engine expert. That’s where we come in – Parallel Path has provided reliable and effective search engine optimization expertise for clients ranging from niche local businesses, to multinational corporations. If you think that your site has been affected by an update, drop us a line and we’ll put our team of data scientists to work on getting your website back to peak organic search performance.

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