Google’s latest search algorithm update is now complete, and – despite some concerns – brand publications are seeing no negative impact to their search traffic so far. Some are reporting slight increases compared with this time last year.
“It’s a nothing burger,” said Travis Bernard, vp of conversion at Graphite Growth.
Bernard’s company oversees a number of client brand publications, all of which have seen little change in search traffic from Google on a year-over-year basis. “Generally speaking, impact has been low,” he said.
Other agencies are reporting that the update may actually have helped boost traffic to brand publications. The work they’ve previously done to shore up content and build authority might now be bearing fruit, they say, if Google is recognizing it as “helpful.”
Data from Nudge, a content measurement platform, shows that year-over-year, traffic in April from Google Search was up 3% for all brand content, including brand publishing and brand-created content on publisher sites.
Lead Comet, an agency that works with a number of b2b brands that publish content, says it’s seen slight increases in traffic (under 10%) from Google since March to brand publications. However, it’s not enough to indicate that the content update was responsible, said the agency’s managing partner, James de Roche.
“[Businesses are often] looking for fast ways to rank and drive traffic. Meanwhile, Google’s constantly getting better at detecting this and deprioritizing sites and content that do this. It still has a long way to go (every time you search for something, you’re bound to find articles that don’t satisfy search intent, regurgitate similar information, thin content.) But, we’ve always found that if you aim for content that supports the buyer’s journey, you’re less impacted when algorithm updates happen,” said de Roche.
And at Improove, a global SEO agency, an aggregate snapshot of client data showed that there were “negligible” changes, according to COO Jonny Waite, who defines negligible as a 15% change in either direction, not enough to ring any alarm bells.
Google’s algorithm update was first announced in August, with another update announced in December, which took about two weeks to roll out. Both updates were designed to prioritize content written for and by humans, rather than content that caters primarily to algorithms. The update also introduced a new concept, “EEAT,” which added “experience” to expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness as key factors by which content quality is evaluated.
For brand content, the Google move is part of a larger industry wide shift that is naturally prioritizing content that is in sync with audience needs and demands – content that’s useful, entertaining and original. As Ken Trojanowski, vp and director of SEO at Mediahub put it: “Editorial and ‘utility’ content is creeping up into the top pages for our clients each and every month.”
There are a few possible explanations for brands seeing little update from the change. One is that the brands that have either seen traffic increases or no change were already satisfying a lot of Google’s criteria by producing content that was of high quality and meets user intent. Many had already hired SEO experts, for example, who had worked ahead of any issues before they could arise.
Another possibility, set forth by Ryan VanValin, who runs growth at Graphite, is that the impact of the update and EEAT is actually low. VanValin said in a recent post that in cases where EEAT is theoretically “improved” by adding author pages or citations, it results in no impact for him or his clients, and vice versa.
“When you look at EEAT, it should be looked at as guardrails,” said Waite of Improove. “It’s a description of what’s in the algo, not what is in the algo itself.”