How to Recover from Google’s “Medic” Algorithm Update

Did your site lose rankings and traffic in August and/or September?

Google rolled out an intense algorithm update.

And you might wonder what you should fix.

Well, here’s what Google’s Danny Sullivan had to say about it:

Doesn’t that seem like the world’s greatest non-answer?

What is this a guy? A politician?

So, you lose rankings and traffic…but you can’t do anything to fix it?

Believe it or not, Sullivan’s answer is a good one. And, it’s the right one.

Why No Specific Fix Will Restore Your Rankings and Traffic

When you try to find a specific fix…when you go down that mental avenue…here’s the problem:

you’re trying to please Google.

Yes. Pleasing Google is not what your website is all about.

That’s because Google exists not to put the sites it thinks should be at the top of the search rankings. Rather, it exists to put the sites that people want to use in first place.

That keeps people using Google (and not other search engines). And it keeps the company making billions of dollars.

Google doesn’t want to lose either.

So, What Do You Fix?

Your website can never again be a one-time or occasional thing you look at and make fixes to. If you go that route, you’re sure to lose your rank in search.

It may come slowly. But it will happen.

Rather, you want to constantly tweak your website to give your visitors a better experience. You do the same at your brick-and-mortar location.

You must also do this with your website.

So each day, simply ask yourself, ”What’s the number one thing I can do right now that will make the greatest impact on how much people like my website?”

…And that can lead you to lots of decisions like improving content, increasing site speed, creating more appealing marketing messages, changing code to improve performance, tightening security, and scores of other decisions.

The Number One Thing You Can Always Do

Ultimately, people visit and stay at websites with the most useful content. So if you’re a naturally talented writer, create the most in-depth blog post of its kind that answers a question, dispels a myth, or sheds light on an issue of concern to your audience.

If you’re not a writer, create a video, upload to YouTube, and post it on your website.

Add a podcast to your website.

The more helpful you can be with your content, the better.

Why?

People get all sorts of lame, and sometimes just downright wrong, answers on the internet.

So when you make it clear helping your visitors out is your number one priority, and they get information they can’t get anywhere else, you win attention.

They remember you.

They share your content with their friends.

And when they finally need your service, they choose you (and not your competitor).

In a nutshell, “sharing is caring.”

And that’s how you keep Google happy and maintain a nearly impossible-to-disrupt hold on your traffic and rankings, regardless of the changes Google throws your way.

via GIPHY

 

Does Your Content Stink?

Who determines the quality of your content?

Google?

Nope!

I’ll give you one more guess…

Got it?

Did you say your website visitors?

Ding. Ding! We have a winner!

Yes, your market determines the quality of your content.

Because, if they like it, they click through to your site from search, stay on your page for a minute or two, share your content, and then come back again and read more in the future.

Google factors all those actions into its rankings.

When you optimize for keywords, Google does look at your content too. But it continually adjusts your rankings based on how well your content performs.

Yes. Google works on the concept of democracy. The people vote by taking (or not taking) actions. A sole powerful king or dictator does not determine what you get to see and hear.

How Do You Know If Your Content Rocks…Or Sucks?

Read this snippet of an article of a post at a local online magazine and decide whether you think it rocks or sucks:

 

The Expert’s Opinion

So, what did you think? Would you have found that useful if you had an interest in going to Minneapolis for a weekend?

Now, get an expert’s opinion.

What do I think?

…It doesn’t matter!

I honestly cannot tell just by looking at the post.

The writing quality is decent. It won’t irk Google and hurt rankings in any obvious ways.

However, the true value of content gets judged by how well it meets the needs and interests of its audience.

…And the only way I can tell that is by viewing data and analytics.

I don’t have access to the website’s analytics. But I can see basic data via Buzzsumo’s Content Analyzer:

43 social shares.

…And this post just got published a day prior to getting this data. So more shares will roll in.

Now, this website is a step above the typical small, local business. For them, I’m guessing it’s not their most popular post.

Buzzsumo lets me see the most popular posts on the site. So let’s look at that data:

Their top posts get 1.5k – 2.1k social shares.

A reasonable guess for this type of website would be that a typical post gets maybe 100 – 200 social shares or so.

It usually takes a couple weeks for numbers to get to their final (that’s how content works). So, this post you just read is likely an average post.

How to Use This to Determine Your Content Quality

Share numbers from your website won’t be nearly as high. That’s because you’re smaller and have a lower reach.

No shame in that. It’s just a fact.

For you, 50 shares on a post might be pretty decent.

But, you can also use Buzzsumo to research your competitor’s sites. See how many shares they get.

And remember, they may have a bigger audience built up. So, you can’t say your posts weren’t successful simply because you didn’t get the same number of shares.

But, you can get an idea of what content works in your niche. Write your own opinion on the same subject. Go farther in-depth and be more helpful.

Add pictures and videos to clarify your meaning. Link to helpful outside sources.

Then, you know you have great content.

And that means you simply have to get yours in front of the right eyeballs.

Great content comes from trying different approaches, studying data, and improving. You build it slowly over time with incremental improvement.

Armed with the right data, you know precisely whether your content stinks…or rocks!

How Do You Know You’re Creating “Quality Content?”

Quality content rocks.

Who would disagree with that?

Absolutely no one.

…But how do you know if you actually deliver “quality content” to your market?

Let’s talk about some of the characteristics (and leading websites) and what makes
“quality content” in fact “quality content:”

  1. Your Market Always Finds “Quality Content” Useful

In a capitalist society, it’s all about serving your market. Give them what they want. Yes, some content does better than other pieces. You’ll always have variation.

But you’ll consistently see evidence of it. In your analytics, you’ll notice:

  • Long on-page times (or long watch times for videos)
  • Low bounce rates (below 70%)

Quality content simply starts with questions your target audience/market asks. They may ask you in your office frequently.

…And then you become an encyclopedia of information when you give them the answer.

  1. Example Site: TasteofHome.com

This site benefitted bigtime in Google’s most recent update, which targeted websites specifically in its niche.

That’s how you know it has “quality content.” You can also go to BuzzSumo.com, enter a URL, and check the share count to gauge popularity.

So what makes this site’s content such a big deal?

Well, it serves a niche: people cooking at home.

The content is short, to the point, and written in simple language that’s easy to consume.

If you go to BuzzSumo.com and enter in the website’s URL, you find out these are the top 5 most popular posts:

It’s easy to see why some of these posts are so popular:

  • Who wouldn’t want a free Dairy Queen ice cream cone?
  • Taco Bell is one of the healthiest fast food chains. Really?
  • A new fourth type of chocolate has been found. Wow! Who wouldn’t want to learn about that?

BuzzSumo works in every niche. You can even search by keyword. So, just enter in your top keywords or key phrases related to the subject matter you want to create, and find out what rocks in your niche.

Then, create your own unique version with additional info not found in the leading stories.

Ta-da!

It really is that easy to find popular subjects to write about.

It simply takes some time and research.

So what does quality content look like?

It varies widely by niche. But now you know exactly what to do to find it, and then create your own version to serve your niche.

Google Rolls Out Yet Another Core Algorithm Change

You may have heard about Google increasing the length of meta descriptions, which won’t have a huge impact on search rankings.

But they actually said this on their Twitter account about their latest update:

“…It’s that changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded. There’s no “fix” for pages that may perform less well, other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.”

So doesn’t that make you feel kinda helpless?

What if your rankings get completely trashed and you lose 25% of your site’s traffic or so?

Google’s saying you just gotta wait that out?

What if you can’t?

Search Engine Land reported the story.

Wait a Minute! Actually, You Can Do Something About That

So let’s focus on the fact that Google says they’ve rewarded certain pages less than they should have for some time.

Theoretically, for any one keyword or key phrase, you have one page on a website that’s better than all the others.

Truly, the best.

So even though Google tells you to wait, you can actually do a lot to improve your search rankings.

But let’s qualify that statement somewhat: this becomes much more difficult with your services pages that sell what you have.

Because, what’s so special about any single services page?

They all sell practically the same thing anyway.

Well, you can stand out a little by adding a FAQ section to your services page. You could also add video to give your prospects more of an idea of what it’s like to experience the results of your service. You might add a couple images to break up the text and make it faster and easier to read through your services page.

Your real opportunity to climb the search rankings lies in your content. A simple blog post runs a few hundred words – and that’s what you see most frequently at the small and local business level.

However, the leading online experts create posts thousands of words long. And they only make 1-2 of these per month.

They load the posts with useful videos and graphics. And they offer information you simply can’t find anywhere else.

For example, read any post at Conversion XL, a leading website conversion optimization blog (and bookmark it too).

If you mimicked that at the small or local business level and promoted your post like crazy, you’d win all sorts of traffic, links, social media shares, and customers.

…But You Must Have Realistic Expectations

So yes, you don’t have to sit there helplessly if Google begins to push you down the rankings negatively.

At the same time, understand this isn’t an overnight fix. It can easily take more than a year.

And blog posts rarely instantly attract more customers. People don’t read your posts, revel in how amazing they are, and then buy immediately.

Instead, they read, find your post useful, subscribe to your email list, or bookmark your website. They continue to pay attention to you for months, and possibly years.

Some just use your advice to fix their problem themselves. However, many remember your name, trust you because they love what you say, and then they buy from you when they have a problem you solve.

If Google pushes you down in search a little, it’s impossible to always know exactly why.

But you can absolutely increase your rankings at any time with the right approach.

How to Find Content Ideas Practically Guaranteed to Drive Traffic, Links, and Sales

 

If you’ve written your own blog for any length of time, you know how challenging it becomes to find more content ideas.

It’s even harder to be unique in your niche – one of the greatest ways to differentiate and gain attention.

Yet somehow, some companies seem to consistently find winning content ideas all the time. And they get the blog comments, social shares, search engine rankings, and customers you want.

So how do you find can’t-miss content ideas?

Here’s some strategies for doing just that:

  1. Spy on Your Competitors

The nice thing about the web is that all the information you need to succeed is publicly available. In some cases, someone else has already compiled and published it.

However, you can quickly and easily gather the data you need to succeed. Tools like Buzzsumo (a limited number of free searches) and Ahrefs (paid only) let you search by a keyword.

Then, they show you the most popular content for that keyword – along with some data. For example, you’ll get the social shares.

And since you know certain topics work well at their site, your audience will like them too.

You can also look at your own analytics data and see what’s worked well in the past. Then, you simply create similar content – but go down a slightly different road you haven’t explored before.

  1. Just Google Your Content Topic

If you want to rank for a specific keyword, it really is just as simple as Googling the keyword and then creating your own content on that topic.

The fact that a content piece has become ranked highly in Google doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the most appealing angle on that topic. It does mean, however, that the particular topic got in front of enough eyes to generate enough traffic, social shares, and links such that it currently retains a high position in Google.

So truthfully, a large part of your content’s success depends not just on the angle you take on your content…but also on your ability to promote it. 

  1. Ask Your Audience

If you have any kind of active Facebook page, email list, blog – or any way of interacting with your customers (including in person), simply ask your audience what they want to know more about.

You can give them options. You can also just leave the question wide open and see what comes back.

You’ll hear the same things over and over. And those are some of your top content topics.

As you find your ideas, write them down. You should have no problem identifying more topics than you could ever write on.

What’s Different about Your Content

Does just any old content work?

Kind of.

But you get limited results from that content.

Because, as you know, now you can read a blog post about any problem you have.

Don’t know how to fix your water heater?

How do you prepare your house for the winter?

Can you get rid of a cold faster?

Got ants in your pants and need a quick solution?

No matter how small, large, or absurd your problem, someone else has written or recorded the solution.

And usually, dozens of people have.

Having a solution available, whether by blog, email, or social media, gives customers a reason to keep listening to you.

Creating a unique solution gives customers and prospects a powerfully persuasive reason to listen to you.

What if you don’t have a unique solution?

How can you stand out with your content?

You can actually do quite a bit to differentiate your content so you get more links, followers, and customers than your competitors:

  1. Get to the Point Already 

Internet searchers want a quick answer to their question. They may need help with just a step or two to solve their problem.

Don’t blabber on about the entire history of the problem.

Get to the point.

Identify the problem. Explain why it happens. Show the fixes.

Don’t make your reader endure even one more sentence than they have to.

  1. Entertain

Erin Williamson at Design Crisis knows how to entertain while discussing various interior design topics.

Giving just the facts bores most audiences. It may be appropriate for audiences who like facts, like lawyers or doctors.

 

Here’s an example of a facetious comment she makes:

“I took trig, calculus and physics, and none of that equipped me to figure out how to specify the length and width of a panel with pinch pleats and rods and rings.”

If you crack jokes in person, do it online too. You get the same response, even though you don’t necessarily experience it.

  1. Go Meticulously In-Depth…Farther Than Anyone Else

Again, don’t tell your readers about the history of a problem. That bores.

But do offer details that only an experienced professional like yourself would know.

 

Give your readers everything. And don’t hold back.

Will some take your secrets and do their project for themselves?

Perhaps.

But even more will realize you know what in the heck you’re doing. And they’ll want to hire someone with a sharp mind like yours.

Consider writing a single blog post and going all out on the solution to a problem.

 

Brian Dean of Backlinko uses this approach in the SEO/internet marketing niche, which leads the innovation of content.

He goes way further in-depth and delivers more value than anyone else, which makes it no surprise he’s one of the top minds in his niche.

And don’t be afraid to constantly share stories of personal experiences. Nothing is more credible or convincing to your readers. Plus, the human mind is wired to remember stories far better than lists of boring facts.

How can you make your content stand out?

It should be no problem now!