If you look at the SEO world from the outside, there is a clear perception that this is a crazy, unpredictable industry where even the most knowledgable experts get taken for a ride whenever Google makes an update.
In reality it is far less chaotic. Google is relatively clear in what they want, so if you play nicely and don’t try to steal an edge through black-hat techniques, you are able to roll with the punches.
In August 2018, many webmasters and marketers woke up to some serious movement in the search results.
Previously dominant sites were getting no organic traffic and in some cases smaller resources were taking over and all we knew was the vague Tweet from Google, below.
So, what was the reason for this core update?
Quite simply, Trust.
In the past, a Google search for a topic that requires a degree and years of experience to answer correctly may well have resulted in a user clicking a link to an article written by an armchair expert; quite possible looking to push an agenda so they can sell a product or service.
This was bad for the user, and thus, bad for Google.
User habits are very hard won; Amazon has shown us that users are very happy to sidestep Google and go direct to a product search. If this is to transition to informational queries (for example, going to the NHS direct search for health and medical searches) then Google could see chunks being bitten out of their market share.
To combat this, Google is looking to push trust and trained insight into the search algorithm. Whilst this has been a goal for years (the below image shows a patent granted way back in 2009), adding something so complex to the search algorithm has seemingly been problematic.
Anybody working in content marketing circa 2013 will remember Google Authorship. This was Google’s attempt at tracking content creators across different websites and giving search ranking changes to the better writers.
Unfortunately for Google this required a Google+ account (meaning the EU were breathing down their neck for anti-trust violations) and it was inherently exploitable; within months, savvy black hat marketers were buying and selling ‘trusted’ profiles; thus, Google put the experiment to rest.
The August update is seemingly an attempt from Google to put creators at the forefront once again. If you are writing about a sophisticated topic that could harm a user if bad advice is given, then you need to have the expertise, authority factors to back it up and earn Google’s trust.