March Core Quality Update - March 12, 2019

georgebizpro

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Dec 4, 2013
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17
What I've noticed for clients organic traffic and rankings following last week's Google algorithm update. I've read a few articles that said some folks had noticed drops in rankings for sites which have spammy anchor text links, so maybe it's possible (since we don't do a lot of spammy link building) that improvements came as a result of questionable sites dropping in rankings? We use Brightlocal for keyword ranking reports, we've reviewed all clients' rankings following launch of update on Google organic, Google "mobile", Google Local. Somethings I've noticed:

1) Local (located in another state but we target local search terms) lawyer went from being #2 or 3 in Google Local snack pack for the past few months (following the launch of his website redesign) to sky rocketing to #1 of Google My Business for practically every keyword we're tracking for him. Fairly small Wordpress website, but it's been redesigned in past 6 months. Personal injury lawyer with 2 locations. We use the city page that we setup for him as the GMB landing page, which includes reviews, Google map, and a snippet about each practice area on landing page. Haven't made any major changes that would explain sudden rise in rankings, has to be update-related. For client's second location, he uses a virtual office location. Rankings for this location did not improve at all, which makes me wonder but not super surprised since it's a virtual location being used by multiple businesses. What I did notice is that for the location that did improve, the biggest rise was in mobile rankings.

2) Another local lawyer, website design is fairly new and very mobile-friendly, days following launch of Google update have been their best days for organic search traffic since mid-2017, keywords were all ranking fairly well beforehand but they're ranking #1 in snack pack for a lot more keywords. We noticed in client #1 that mobile search terms saw the most improvements. After reviewing this client's rankings, this is also the case.

3) A local CPA firm with 3 locations. Website is a bit outdated, Wordpress theme. Load times need improvements, not sure about mobile friendliness but assumption si that it's not as mobile friendly as the previous 2 clients. This client still ranks in Local Snack pack for majority of their city-based terms, but have dropped 1 or 2 spots in most local searches. Biggest fluctuation in rankings is, once again, on the mobile side.

For all 3 clients, we monitor inbound link profile fairly regularly, spammy anchor text isn't much of an issue but that's not to say that it doesn't play a role.

But has anyone heard any theories or noticed any data that suggests that the local update might have mobile implications? This is all based on Brightlocal rankings, so it could also be something with their rank tracking system but I've found it fairly reliable. Let me know if anyone has any thoughts on what they've noticed following launch of update, thanks.
 

georgebizpro

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Dec 4, 2013
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One other thing I've just started considering is the E-A-T factor.

The client which saw dramatic improvements has client testimonials directly on their GMB landing pages. The clients which saw little to no improvement, or drops, have no set author for the blog content, no testimonials or award badges on their sites.
 

JoyHawkins

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Jul 18, 2012
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Hey George,

I renamed this thread to make it more specific so people know what update we're talking about. I am just now digging into a few clients and am seeing some changes on the local side for sure. For a couple clients we checked this morning, they saw some pretty drastic changes in local ranking that happened on March 11 (According to Bright Local), not March 12th. I'll report back here with my findings after I've analyzed them more.
 

CallumS

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Oct 24, 2018
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Outside of the local space, we have seen a lot of our clients who have been working hard on improving signals that 'showcase' their E-A-T better see really great increases.
 

Cherie Dickey

Local Search Expert
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Jan 30, 2018
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241
I'm wondering if EAT is a contributing factor in fluctuations with this update as well. I haven't dug in enough to notice huge fluctuations in rankings, but I HAVE noticed that with my clients who are doctors/dentists, their bio pages are also ranking along with their Home page frequently when the site is ranking well organically. For example, the HP would be ranking #3 and the Dr page would be ranking #4. We have noticed this with quite a few clients recently. I'm also struggling to get practice branded listings to outrank the practitioner listings when they exist.
 

CallumS

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Oct 24, 2018
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I'm wondering if EAT is a contributing factor in fluctuations with this update as well.
my two cents:

E-A-T is a pretty broad 'macro' ranking factor that Google gets better at recognizing with each algorithm tweak. They have stated what they want YMYL sites and their content to be (expert, authoritative, and trustworthy) all of which matter to different degree's depending on the query and niche. So by definition, E-A-T is going to be a contributing factor to fluctuations with *every* update

This article relates to Bing, but the principles of building a SE are the same. Think of the tenents of E-A-T as being the content of the 'guidelines'.

 

AndySimpson

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Apr 6, 2016
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149
Hey George,

I renamed this thread to make it more specific so people know what update we're talking about. I am just now digging into a few clients and am seeing some changes on the local side for sure. For a couple clients we checked this morning, they saw some pretty drastic changes in local ranking that happened on March 11 (According to Bright Local), not March 12th. I'll report back here with my findings after I've analyzed them more.
Hi Joy, I'd be interested to know more about your findings as I am currently scratching my head about one client.

Site kills it in the serps organically BUT has almost died in the 3 pack. As for local, I'll put in terms of "Local Falcon", we had green across probably 75% of the city, however, looking yesterday and we're down to less than 25% of the city spread, down to red and yellow across the city. More focus appears to be given to more central located related businesses (PI Attorneys) whereas my client is on the outskirts but has dominated a big part of the city for months.

So are you seeing positive or negatives changes for your clients?...hoping it's not just me! :confused:
 

JoyHawkins

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Yeah we have one (criminal attorney) that went up organically all over the place and local rankings tanked. His case looks like it might be a filtering issue. There are 2-3 other attorneys that are in the same building. This guy has a bad history with links but we filed a disavow a month ago.
 

AndySimpson

Local Search Expert
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Apr 6, 2016
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149
Yeah we have one (criminal attorney) that went up organically all over the place and local rankings tanked. His case looks like it might be a filtering issue. There are 2-3 other attorneys that are in the same building. This guy has a bad history with links but we filed a disavow a month ago.
ahh okay, different to me. My client has a weak(ish) GMB profile but still listed well in the 3 pack, now they are almost where I would expect to see them with such a poor review count, etc compared to the competition in the center of the city. Organic is still strong...thankfully.

Will post here if / when I see any change either way.

Thanks
 

Marie Haynes

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Aug 7, 2012
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Out of the many clients that came to us with big drops with Medic (Aug 1) or Sep 27, most are seeing some type of improvement. Some of those sites have made a full recovery, while some have made just partial recoveries.

These sites span many niches. While many of these sites were medical or nutritional in nature, we also had recoveries for tech, finance, and e-commerce sites.

I'm probably biased, but I really do think this update was related to Google's ability to determine E-A-T.
 

AndySimpson

Local Search Expert
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Apr 6, 2016
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Hmmmm, a big question for a single location....at the moment I'd say "possibly", I am trying to find time to test a few more locations to see if I can see similar results either in a positive/ negative way.
 

georgebizpro

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Dec 4, 2013
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Hi Joy, I'd be interested to know more about your findings as I am currently scratching my head about one client.

Site kills it in the serps organically BUT has almost died in the 3 pack. As for local, I'll put in terms of "Local Falcon", we had green across probably 75% of the city, however, looking yesterday and we're down to less than 25% of the city spread, down to red and yellow across the city. More focus appears to be given to more central located related businesses (PI Attorneys) whereas my client is on the outskirts but has dominated a big part of the city for months.

So are you seeing positive or negatives changes for your clients?...hoping it's not just me! :confused:
What are reviews like? one thing I noticed for client who saw a huge boost, he 1) has 26 or so positive reviews, and 2) we added the reviews including markup language to the city landing page. We didn't do the same for his other location, not much increase/decrease, but for his money location we saw a huge increase:

 

JoshuaMackens

Local Search Expert
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Sep 12, 2012
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Recovery happened organically for a pain management client that got hit in the Aug 1st update. So it looks like the recent update was YMYL related.

We removed a bunch of over optimized pages as well as all blog posts. I did some research and noticed sites with tight content (not a ton of pages) were the ones ranking really well in pain management. So removing all the blog posts plus over optimized pages shrunk our site significantly. I think that's what did it, especially since the blog posts were super old.

The more pages you have, the more content you have to run afoul of YMYL. If you have service pages that are suspect for doorway pages with zero visits or blog posts with zero visits, I'd recommend considering removing them.

We did add an author to all blog posts which was the main doctor of the practice. Didn't seem to help. His about page which we linked to isn't super strong (just a few paragraphs plus his CV), so maybe that was the issue. But removing the blog posts and over optimized content seems to have done the trick.
 

AndySimpson

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Apr 6, 2016
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149
What are reviews like? one thing I noticed for client who saw a huge boost, he 1) has 26 or so positive reviews, and 2) we added the reviews including markup language to the city landing page. We didn't do the same for his other location, not much increase/decrease, but for his money location we saw a huge increase:
The listing has poor reviews, always has, always will (no matter how many times you tell the client), it was basically a weak listing doing very well. However, they were and are very strong organically.
 

vvo

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Aug 19, 2018
Messages
16
I'm wondering if EAT is a contributing factor in fluctuations with this update as well. I haven't dug in enough to notice huge fluctuations in rankings, but I HAVE noticed that with my clients who are doctors/dentists, their bio pages are also ranking along with their Home page frequently when the site is ranking well organically. For example, the HP would be ranking #3 and the Dr page would be ranking #4. We have noticed this with quite a few clients recently. I'm also struggling to get practice branded listings to outrank the practitioner listings when they exist.
Hi!
I can see many medical sites increase traffic.
I think this update is nothing specific.
 

JoyHawkins

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Jul 18, 2012
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I just did an analysis for a private investigator client of ours. Medic tanked some of his organic rankings and I remember thinking the results post-Medic looked stupid. Here is some very specific things that I observed for the term "private investigator" when searched from his zip code.

  • The site that ranked first organically on March 10th was an article about how to become a private investigator, this tanked to 12th
  • The second organic result on March 10th was another article about how to become a private investigator fell to #5.
  • The third organic result on March 10th was Wikipedia's generic entry for "private investigator" and this fell to #9.
  • The new top organic ranking is my client (a private investigator in that city)
  • The new second organic ranking is Thumbtack which is a list of private investigators in that city.
  • The new third organic ranking is an article in a magazine listing the "best private investigators" in that city (it was previously 6th)

I want to note that my client was 8th pre-medic for this term and dropped off the face of the earth for this term but he was never #1. So this update isn't likely a complete reversal. I think Google just got a better idea of what sites were quality (like Marie said) and in this SERP's case, the intent of the searcher changed. Google is now showing results that would indicate the searcher is looking to hire a private investigator, not become one himself.
 

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