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By Nicai de Guzman on 21 Dec 2021

When Google launched the broad core algorithm update on November 17, the SEO and Content teams of Wolfgang Digital were prepared to see fluctuations in traffic for a few weeks as the update rolled out in different markets. 

It’s fair enough to say that the algorithm’s roll out is complete, and whatever changes it has caused on your website are here to stay… at least until the next update. 

Have you seen your website drop a few positions in terms of valuable search terms? Or have you actually gained more traffic? As we transition into the new year, perhaps it’s time to look into what can be done to your website to recover some lost traffic or build upon the success your site has experienced after the latest update. 

But first, let’s examine what exactly happened and what actions were rewarded during the November 2021 core update… 


What were the significant changes of the November 2021 core update?

Here are some of the things we have noticed after the rollout of the latest core update:

There is a stress on the relevance of the website and its content

We have noticed that Google’s core updates are more to do with trying to figure out what the relevance of a site is overall and less related to things like spammy links. It’s really a matter of trying to figure out what the relevance of the site is overall. 

Overall site quality is taken into consideration 

Gone are the days when we can ignore the aesthetics of our website. (We sure hope you weren’t ignoring it in the first place!) In November’s update, we have noticed that overall site quality has been taken into consideration.

Look at it this way: Your website is more than just text, and the November algorithm update also appears to have taken site layout and other factors into account.
Ask yourself these questions: 

  • How did you present certain elements on your pages? 
  • How did you integrate images? 
  • How fast do your pages load? 

All of those factors come into play.

Minor technical issues were not the main source of core update ranking problems 

Our clients who are making technical changes to their websites ask the same kinds of questions whenever Google launches a well-publicised update:
Is it the correct time to be making technical changes, given that these core updates are being rolled out? 

The answer is they shouldn’t be affected. With regard to things like 404 pages and technical issues, they would not be related to core updates. Core updates are really more about understanding your site’s overall quality and its relevance, and less about technical issues and spam

There has been a “deepening” of the knowledge graph 

Additional importance has been given to SERP features and, during the update, search marketers have noticed wild fluctuations in Google’s Knowledge Graph. According to digital marketer Jason Barnard, who was featured on Search Engine Journal’s article on the November 2021 update, queries returned 6% more Knowledge Graph results than average. 


The effect of the November 2021 Core Update on e-Commerce websites

After seeing these changes, we tried to look more into how it affected our own clients, especially those in the e-commerce space. 

Case Study 1: A large, multi-department retailer

One of our clients’ organic visibility went up 19% towards the end of the update. Keyword rankings increased across all categories as well. 

Overall visibility went up 19%

The different categories of this e-commerce site all increased 

The focused tasks from Wolfgang Digital that enabled this win were:

  • Adding rich content to high-value category pages and internally linking to important sub-category pages, thereby improving the crawlability of these sub-categories. 
  • Refining meta data for sub-category pages to target long-tail keyword variants with low competition.


Case Study 2: Irish fashion retailer 

For our other featured client, a local fashion store, we spotted an 8.4% jump in organic visibility during the week of the November algorithm update.

A consistent upward trajectory after the update 

The tasks that Wolfgang Digital carried out that the core update favored:

  • Paid particular attention to categories with an upward search volume trajectory, specifically to trending sub-categories, such as women’s dresses. 
  • Focused on optimising important on-page elements, including metadata, H1 tags and on-page paragraphs. 


What can you do to be better prepared for the next core update? 

Every time a core update rolls out, there is a mixed reaction from the search marketing community. Many dread that their hard work from the past few months will simply go to waste, but there are ways to ensure that your website keeps winning (or at least won’t be affected so much) after the updates:

Follow the best practices such as E-A-T

You can never go wrong with the classics. Leveraging expertise, authority, and trust is always the way to go. Google has been talking about E-A-T for quite a while now and it is their benchmark for content success. You must demonstrate expertise in your industry by creating pages and blog posts that demonstrate it. 

You must give a sense of authority by having fact-checked content written by reputable authors. You must be a trustworthy site by having recognised sites reference you or link to you. (And yes, even e-commerce sites can do this by having a blog section that is linked to by other websites of value.) 

Always monitor the performance of your websites 

Checking the statistics of your website only in the wake of a core update is like opening a can of worms. You may unearth some maintenance issues that have been dragging your website’s performance down. 

You must start seeing your website as something that needs tender loving care daily. It needs housekeeping on a regular basis, not bi-yearly overhauls. 

Keep an eye out for Google’s new technology 

Google is always trying to improve the experience of its users with innovative new tech like Google Discover and Web Stories. It’s always a good idea to keep up-to-date with their latest news so that you can be first in line to try out their cool new offerings. (Pro tip: Did you know that Google Agency Partners like Wolfgang Digital are given first access to new Google technology for things like PPC, etc?) 

So don’t forget to keep yourself informed! If you feel like you don’t have the time to do the research yourself, feel free to subscribe to our newsletter where we deliver the latest information and reports straight to your inbox! 

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