On March 12, 2019, Google released a major update to its search algorithm worldwide, and suddenly there were tremors in the rankings of most websites – with some losing ground and some reporting gains. The whole SEO community was abuzz discussing the update and giving it a name – Florida Update 2. And so was our SEO team at Anxious To Matter – trying to assess the impact of the update on the rankings and traffic of local businesses and brands that we look after. Before we get into the effects and why we (think) we succeeded in benefitting from it, lets first quickly go through what has happened so far.

#1 Google officially named the update

In the weeks that followed, Google cleared the air around the algorithm’s nomenclature. It officially named it ‘March 2019 Core Update’, while pointing out that it does not have any relevance to the Florida Update released in the early 2000s.

#2 Google, says there is ‘nothing to fix’

How would you feel, when you are falling down the cliff and while trying to open the parachute – you realise that there isn’t a parachute tied to your jumping suit? This is precisely what happened to SEO community members when they scrambled to look out for ways to control the fall out from the algorithm update. So did they find anything specific? The answer is no.

Danny Sullivan of Google said that there was ‘nothing to fix’ with broad core updates and that these updates do not single out any targeted niche areas. But referring to advice given in the past, you should always have the goal to build great content! This in addition to focusing on improving the overall quality of the website SEO signals is still the key driver to organic success.

#3 Tremors in ‘Black Hat’ community

The black hat community (a community of SEO specialists that focus on using SEO techniques discouraged by Google) were found hitting their heads and grappling to contain the fallout. Citing a black hat SEO community group on Facebook, Roger Monti of Search Engine Journal said that sites with heavy anchor text optimisation were losing rankings fast. He added that most members were upbeat with the results and a lesser number reported losses.

#4 Google Quality Rater’s Guidelines stands relevant

The Google Quality Rater’s Guidelines (QRG), which is a guide to help Google’s team of Quality Raters (Yes, Google hires over 10,000 quality raters across the world) to evaluate the quality of its search results. The guidelines are the most reliable source of information into the way Google evaluates a site and most of the website that followed it, fared well with the March 2019 Core Update as well.

#5 Impact on our local business and brands

Google March Core Update ProgressWe did pretty well, in fact, we did very well. The update has boosted the positions of our targeted keyword rankings for most of the local businesses and brands we manage. As an agency that focuses on helping smaller brands become big, we focus on building a quality presence for our clients and providing a better user experience in terms of information accessibility and user experience – and this has paid off. If you are looking for the long answer, read on to know the actions we have been taking to help our clients boost their growth (and benefit from each Google Algorithm updates).

Why our clients benefitted from Google’s March 2019 Core Update?

#1 EAT compliance

Expert, Authority and Trust signals remain at the core of the Google QRG. While some ascribe Google only considers these while evaluating a Your Life Your Money (YMYL) sites like health and financial advisory sites – we have worked on making our clients EAT compliance and providing all the information that a user may need to make an educated decision.

In general terms, to make a site EAT compliant, all you need to do is provide all the information about your business, your products, your user data protection policy, your sales policy and the like. These small, and some times insignificant details, help establish you as a credible business with real and responsible humans operating it. Try doing this; it pays off. If you need help in accessing your site’s EAT, get in touch with us.

#2 Relevant Content

Google’s core algorithm is powered by artificial intelligence and as such this enables it to understand well-written content – including synonyms and metaphors in context. However, there are SEO practitioners who still rely on using exact match keywords in content or their anchor text.

We aim to sear clear from such practice and instead focus on optimising content to make it relevant to the context. Remember, the core objective of Google search is to provide meaningful and relevant content to its searchers. So as part of the initial SEO audit for each of our client, we access the quality of content on their website and thoroughly examine relevance against the focus of specific pages against the user expectations. Based on our evaluation, we have worked intensively on improving content relevance and quality.

#3 Technical SEO

Just like a healthy body is essential for a healthy body, a fully optimised website is essential to provide better accessibility to search crawlers and a better experience to its visitors. ATM works on making its client’s site accessible to crawlers that have the capability of not only to ‘read’ but also to understand the objective/content of a webpage.

As part of our technical SEO guidelines, we implement relevant structured data on all our client websites to communicate the website’s credentials and its content. While this may sound like a bit of work, this is crucial because AI powers Google’s algorithm and it wants to understand a webpage before matching it to the intent of a search query. For example – if you own a Mexican restaurant in Melbourne’s CBD and want to show up for the search query ‘Mexican restaurant near me’, you should be using Structured Data on your site to tell Google about your location so it can pair your business to the search.

#4 Quality Links & Local Citations

Quality links sent back to a website from a relevant website/webpage is one of the most critical signals along with uniform citations from repeated local business directories (for local business). Using our in-house outreach process, we focus on building quality (not quantity) backlinks from highly reputed and niche specific sites by writing quality content that is worth sharing and citations.

As part of our standard SEO audit process, we not only focus on building quality backlinks but also equally concentrate on keeping our client’s backlink profile clean of spammy links. Coupled with citations gained from reputed local business directories, quality backlinks have helped us boost the growth of our clients because it is real, quality traffic being sent from relevant sites.

While there are other areas as well that we focus on to ensure the growth of our client’s online business, the above four remain the major pillars of success. If there are ideas that have worked for you and you would like to share with us, let us know in the comments below and if you would like to discuss how we can help you recover from a Google penalty or ensure that you get the ranking boost from the upcoming Google Algorithm updates, reach out to us.

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