On March 12, 2019, Google rolled out a major “core update” that caused widespread, remarkable ranking changes (with very mixed results). Industry digital marketing leaders quickly named it the “Florida 2 Update”, and Google later referred to it as simply “March 2019 Core Update”.
Florida 2 is a bit of a mystery. In usual fashion, Google has not provided any real information on the scope or purpose of such a significant algorithm update. The industry recognized digital marketing leaders promptly made observations to analyze data and arrive at some level of understanding of the March 2019 Core Update.
Observations of the Florida 2 Core Update
Although the effects of Florida 2 are widespread, the effects are most pronounced in areas of health and wellness, notably anything medical, health, and fitness related. Some people have speculated that the Florida 2 Core Update is perhaps intended to amend effects of the Google Medic update.1
Top 5 Things Florida 2 Seems to Like
If there was a general statement to be made about the Florida 2 update it would be, focus on the user experience. Every business needs to learn how to coexist with the whims of Google. A business wants to be well ranked and generate leads or online sales. Google seems to want an informational experience for users. The way to win in this situation is to develop content that is more consultative than transactional. Ideally, developing accurate and informative content will drive user interaction without the need for in-your-face calls-to-action.
Steady website traffic and good metrics for time-on-page / time-on-site. Google interprets the time a user stays on your website as a sign that your content is engaging. If you have mixed content such as videos, lists, charts, etc. it helps users to digest information – which takes time.
Optimal user experience. Shoving too many calls-to-action and overwhelming presentations of choices (mega menus) can be annoying. Certainly, most websites cluttered with banner ads, sidebar advertisements, and pop-up ads are annoying. A good idea is to make your website easy to navigate so the user can find what they want without having it shoved at them.
Information-rich content. Lighten up on keyword stuffing and develop content that informs more, and persuades less. Develop content that answers common questions.
Good page and site structure. Pages should have a well-structured hierarchy with proper use of heading tags. Use lists, shorter paragraphs, images and videos.
Quality inbound and outbound linking. By now you should have already learned that the quantity of links is not nearly as important as the quality of links. Whether it’s intrasite links, outbound links, or inbound backlinks it should be something that provides additional relevant information. It’s worth noting that Google seems to especially like .gov backlinks.
Two Google related algorithm acronyms you should know are YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) and EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness). These are major drivers in Google algorithms for evaluating the quality of your content and website as a whole. If you are not considering these elements in your work then you are causing yourself some problems.
In August of 2018, Google implemented a broad core algorithm update which shifted major emphasis to content quality. A Search Engine Journal article by stated, "… pages that would receive high-quality ratings from raters applying these guidelines are the kinds of pages Google wants to rank well."2
How important are E-A-T and Y-M-Y-L to your online success? SEMRush blog contributor Julia Spence-McCoy stated, " Unfortunately, DIY content often doesn’t possess the needed levels of E-A-T and, for this reason, marketers can do well to hire expert writers…". 3 If you’re not highly confident about your article research and writing skills you should find an agency to write good articles
3 Ways to Apply E-A-T Concepts Into Your Website
Generally speaking, the spirit of the E-A-T principle means you should focus on content quality. This means replace low-quality content with new and better content. Adopt best practices for all content that you write. Things you should apply when writing content are:
Go deep and specific. Write content that reflects a good understanding of the subject matter, and communicates information that a user can put to use.
Link strategically for users. The best links, inbound or outbound, enable a reader to access additional relevant, quality content. Any link that is created needs to be useful for readers.
Be original. Using third-party sources for research is normal; however, write content that is unique and useful for readers. Never plagiarize the work of others.
Other Ways to Improve Content Quality
Remember the earlier mention of authoritativeness and trustworthiness? Making this happen requires a deliberate effort to prove you or your site deserves such consideration.
Some things that you can do include:
Earn and share your credentials. On your About/Company page it’s a good idea to publish things that make you and your company look good. Things such as customer reviews, industry memberships, awards, and accolades speak to why people should listen to you. Furthermore, Google’s own published search quality guidelines specifically identify that " popularity, user engagement, and user reviews can be considered evidence of reputation" are key influencing factors.4
Use schema markup. You can apply greater control of how your content is read by Google and what it means by using schema markup. This can help you with local SEO and organic SEO.
Employ a SSL certificate. It’s fact, the absence of an SSL certificate does affect your website’s ability to rank. Additionally, the https and padlock let users know you care about their privacy and protection of their information. You should get an SSL certificate and go the extra step to develop and manage a GDPR compliance process.
Improve page load times. Google has clearly stated that page load time is a ranking factor – especially for mobile search results. Lowering page load times involves managing on-page content optimization, on-page technical optimization, and off-page optimization (server settings, htaccess files, etc.)
1 Barry Schwartz, "Google Medic Update: Google’s Core Search Update Had Big Impact On Health/Medical Sites", August 8, 2018, Available from SEO Roundtable
2 Manish Dudharejia, "5 Things You Can Do Right Now to Improve Your Google E-A-T Rating", September 26, 2018, Available from SEJ Search Engine Journal
3 Julia Spence-McCoy, "EAT and YMYL: New Google Search Guidelines Acronyms of Quality Content", January 4, 2016, Available from SEMRush Blog
4 Jessica Lee, "Google Search Quality Guidelines Now Reward Expertise, Authority, Trust", July 14, 2014, Available from SEW Search Engine Watch
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