4 Steps to Take After a Google Update Hits Your Rankings


  • Google algorithm updates occur roughly once every quarter. The updates can have substantial repercussions on a website’s search results so changes must be made to stay on top of the landscape.
  • When the update hits the first thing to do is identify what the update entails. Things to look out for include: the strength of content, poor user experience, misleading ad structure, and overall poorly-executed SEO tech.
  • Patience is required of all SEO strategies. As alarming as a dip in standings is, rash actions can lead to an even slower recovery. Remember that SEO is a marathon, and even if someone people pass you when turning a corner, that doesn’t mean they’ll win the race.
  • Do an honest analysis of your site and use Google’s published guidelines for webmasters. Answering the correct questions will help you quickly identify where your site needs changes in order to recover and ultimately thrive in the new Google algorithm’s landscape.
  • All SEO experts agree that a site can always recover from a Google update. If you work to make a change, Google will recognize it.

Google is a tricky thing to master because it keeps changing its strategy for web rankings. Just because you’ve had it easy-going with your SEO processes for the past year or so, doesn’t mean that you’re safe and sound. Just about every quarter, Google slaps the entire internet in the face with a new Google algorithm, and you have to figure out new ways to keep up.

If you’ve come across this article, there’s a good chance you were hit by a Google algorithm update, and you’re wondering what to do next. The good news is, this is not the end of your business. Google may claim that there’s no way of repairing your site after a big hit, but that’s what SEO specialists are here for. We take a look at the fundamental intentions behind the update, so we can make bigger picture repairs to your site. The last Google algorithm update was in September 2019, so we’re expecting one to hit early in the New Year. We put together this step-by-step article as a way to prepare for the upcoming change. 

Step 1: Identify the common thread

When you’re hit with a Google algorithm update, the first course of action is to lead a deep-dive investigation of everything the update entails. Try to unearth the issues that have lead to your site’s devaluation. Of course, it will be difficult to pinpoint everything, because each update covers such a range of factors. Things to look out for include: not enough or not powerful enough content, poor user experience, misleading ad structure, and overall poorly-executed SEO tech on the site. 

Step 2: Be patient

The sudden drop in rankings can be very unnerving, but you need to be patient with the fix. If your site is negatively impacted by an algorithm update, you may see the decline over several days, so it’s best not to act too fast. As you notice a dip in traffic and performance, spend less time fretting, and more time analyzing why some pages are hit worse than others.

For example, with the more recent algorithm updates, the cause of the biggest hits was low-level information, particularly on medical and health websites. Google’s update was structured to ensure that health advice on the web is accurate and credible.

It often takes weeks to months for the full impact of the update to roll out (sometimes even until the next Google algorithm update), so you can’t act as quickly as you’d like. From there, it’ll take your team of SEO experts some time to analyze and measure the changes. All this has to happen before a new SEO strategy can be developed, so it’s best to be patient and not lose your cool.

You’ll know you’re working with an effective SEO team if they communicate these delays to you early on. They should keep you updated every step of the way, so you know that they are actively seeking solutions. As long as they are communicating and demonstrating a commitment to the analysis, you can let go of the reigns a bit. Expecting results too quickly can cause unnecessary frustration. 

Step 3: Do an honest analysis of your site

Google is never very specific with what changes are being made to its algorithm, so it’s up to you and your SEO team to get nitty-gritty with the quality of your SEO strategy. With the release of their Panda update in 2011, Google published several questions site owners can ask themselves in the face of updates. Most of the questions revolve around the quality of your SEO strategy, so really dig deep about how much love you’re putting into your site.

With every Google algorithm update, it’s a good idea to look at these questions and consider factors regarding your site, such as presentation, user-friendliness, competitive analysis, content quality, etc. Google takes a lot of factors into consideration when developing these updates, so usually, it’s not just one mistake, but a compound of errors. 

Also, take a look at the more technical elements of your SEO strategy. Anything from canonical tags to noindex/robots.tx can be causing your decline in traffic. Be sure to take every detail into account during your analysis.

Step 4: Don’t give up! 

SEO experts agree that a site can always recover from a Google update. In fact, making changes during an update can better prepare you for future updates. Yes, it does require time and work, but it is also a healthy overhaul for the long term success of your site. Many sites that get major hits now experience major gains with subsequent updates. If you are working to make a change, Google will recognize it. If nothing else, a partial recovery is very possible in the shorter term. 

If you were hit with the most recent Google update, the best thing to do is stay calm. There’s a long road ahead, but there’s also light at the end of the tunnel. Working with an SEO team will reduce the amount of analysis on your end, so you can focus on the other core operations of your business. At Redefine Your Marketing, we stay on top of Google updates, so we can act as quickly and effectively as possible with each change. Get in touch if you’d like to stay on top of the ever-evolving SEO landscape with us. 

Author avatar
Victor Lopez
Victor is an SEO specialist for Redefine Marketing Group. Victor's primary focus within his role at Redefine is technical SEO. He's also a Cal Poly Pomona alum with a Business Administration degree in E-commerce and minor Marketing.
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap