A lot of marketers will certainly remember Google’s June Core Update, a large-scale algorithm update that occurred this year. The June Core Update was a bit of an anomaly. It was one of the few times that Google actually announced an update to the public before implementing, likely because they were aware the changes would affect a lot of web pages’ rankings.
ClearBox was no different. While our site itself didn’t take a hit from the update, one of our clients suffered tremendously post-update.
Our Google Search Console data clearly shows a sudden drop from roughly 4500 impressions daily to under 1000 between June 6th and June 15th, the week after the update.
Google loves to make changes to the algorithm almost as much as the company loves to keep their ranking factors a secret, so it’s no surprise little information was released regarding how one could recover from any loss experienced after the update.
Anyone in the industry knows though that this is just a part of the game, so we went right to work to address the drop in impressions. It took us a few months, but after what could have been a catastrophic loss of impressions, we were successful in getting our client back to where they were supposed to be. In fact, our client saw a 2x increase in impressions, compared to their average daily impressions before the June Core Update.
So how did we recover?
June Core Update Recovery: Back to the Basics
The first step I took to figure out how to fix our rapid loss in impressions was to scour the internet for information on the Core Update.
This Webmaster Hangout with John Mueller answered a few of my questions, but didn’t really give me any clear-cut advice on how to recover our impressions. Mueller gave a lot of good information, but like always, seemed to beat around the bush, careful not to reveal anything that Google wanted to keep from the public.
I took some diligent notes, and upon examination of the chicken scratch, I saw something reveal itself.
It was so obvious!
Not really. Mueller really stressed that the basics still apply, maybe more so now than ever.
So we went back to the basics, and reassessed some of the strategies we had implemented for this client.
This client litigates sexual assault cases, and a substantial amount of these cases are for victims of predatory priests. One of our most effective landing pages is Merson Law’s Priest Abuse List, which compiles the names of every priest in the United States credibly accused of sexual assault.
I spent SO many hours copying these names directly on to the site. The list was effective, useful, and relevant – all things Google likes to see. Even while the page was under construction (which it was for several months), we were ranking for terms like “priest abuse list” and “Catholic priest database.” It was also an effective step in one of the site’s many conversion funnels.
After the Core Update however, we decided to change things up. Instead of having all of the names on one giant list, we built out 51 new pages, one for each US state and Washington DC. I organized the names by state in this way, and reformatted the original page to link out to the individual state pages. Now, we still ranked for the same search terms, but we were now optimizing for 51 new location-specific long-tail keywords.
Almost overnight our impressions skyrocketed.
In retrospect, it was a no-brainer. We’re applying similar tactics across the site, and with other clients.
The takeaway here is important. Even after major algorithm updates, Google isn’t going to change the fundamentals. Keyword research is still essential to SEO, and it’s always a good idea to reassess your keyword map and see where optimizations can be made.