10 Tips for Coming Out on Top After a Google Core Update

After several devastating Google algorithms and core updates, many websites, especially small blogs, lost significant amounts of traffic to their sites. If your site has also been affected, you’re not alone.

We looked at a few interesting case studies that provided great insights into the most effective ways to optimize websites for SEO after the Google helpful content update. And summarized the best advice into these ten tips. Follow along and take note.

Many users reported huge drops in traffic to their websites, some even losing up to 90% of traffic and impressions, after Google’s helpful content update. Then, to make things worse, Google rolled out another core update in March 2024 addressing spam content that brought down more sites, most of which were in the process of recovering from the previous updates.

This forced many website owners to lose hope of fixing their websites and getting back on top of Google SERPs. However, it’s not too late, you can still recover your website.

The problem is even the expert SEOs don’t have a clear idea of what works these days. So following random, untested advice is not going to work this time. Let’s find out how to fix and improve your site, according to research-backed data.

The Ultimate Designer Toolkit: 2 Million+ Assets

Envato Elements gives you unlimited access to 2 million+ pro design resources, themes, templates, photos, graphics and more. Everything you'll ever need in your design resource toolkit.

See More

1. Do a Content Audit

Understanding what went wrong is the first step in the recovery process. So, before implementing any fixes or turning your website upside down, do a deep and thorough content audit.

Google’s helpful content algorithm update is all about reducing low-quality and spam-like content from the search results pages (SERPs). If your site has been affected, chances are there could be some outdated and low-quality content on your website as well.

One way to fix this is to delete them completely from your website. Or rewrite them while adding more value and then republish. This has been the number one strategy used by sites that were able to successfully recover from the Google Core update.

2. Remove Fixed Ads

According to a case study conducted by Zyppy SEO, examining 50 websites that were affected by Google updates between August and December of 2023, sites that used fixed footer ads and scrolling video ads had a 83% chance of having a negative impact from the core updates.

These fixed ads tend to interfere with the user experience. Especially on mobile devices, it becomes a challenge to avoid clicking on big banner ads that are fixed to the bottom of the screen. From a user’s perspective, Google punishing sites that force-feed ads to users is actually a good thing.

If you want to get on the good side of Google, you should avoid using fixed ads entirely on your website. Also, try to reduce those annoying pop-up ads and notifications as well.

reduce ads zyppyseo

(Source: ZyppySEO)

The study from Zyppy SEO also found that sites that showed too many display ads and had more affiliate links were also on the losing side of the group.

64% of the sites that were negatively impacted by Google updates had excessive amounts of affiliate links (more than 100 links on a single page). And sites that showed more than 30 display ads on a single page were also on the losing side.

As long as you don’t display too many ads on a single page, you should be safe. However, if you’ve been affected by the Google core updates, it would be wise to try and reduce the ads on your site.

4. Avoid Using Low-Quality Images

If you’re using more stock images in your blog posts and web pages, don’t be surprised if you start seeing drops in traffic after a Google Core update.

These stock images add no value to your content or their originality. Since these images are used by thousands of other websites and blogs, Google will see them as spam.

The new Helpful Content Update is all about rewarding original content. So try to use high-quality, original, and authentic images in your content as much as possible.

5. Try Not to Use AI

Using AI tools to write content is not entirely bad. In fact, Google mentioned that the Search engine does allow AI-generated content. And even reportedly started paying publishers to use its Gemini AI to generate and publish AI content.

However, the March 2024 core update specifically targeted sites that were using AI-generated content at the same time. Some sites that used AI content were even completely de-indexed from Google.

A case study from Niche Pursuits also shed some light on how sites with AI-generated content were affected. Websites that heavily used AI content showed traffic growth in the early days but after the March update, these sites lost almost all of their organic traffic.

Some sites, however, are still showing positive results. So if you’re using AI-generated content, be extra careful. At least try to manually edit and improve them before publishing.

6. Demonstrate Personal Experience

Almost every recent Google core update has been focused on the E-E-A-T concept. This concept started as just E-A-T (Expertise, Autoritativeness, and Trust). However, they later added another E to the concept—Experience.

Sharing your personal experiences in your content is now an important part of providing value to your audience. It’s one of the easiest ways to set your content apart from the rest of the generic content.

7. Add Expert Opinions

Not everyone has personal experience to share in every topic they write about. In such cases, you can always refer to other experts in the field.

When you don’t have your own personal experience to share, add opinions, advice, quotes, and statistics from other experts. And always remember to link to the sources.

8. Display Logo & Contact Information Clearly

This may seem unrelated to SEO but as revealed by the Zyppy SEO case study, there is a connection between the website’s branding and search engine rankings. It’s part of the Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines.

The study revealed that websites that did not show contact information in the footer area were affected negatively by the core updates. Websites that did not have a logo (eg: on mobile view) or had an unclear logo were also among them.

9. Create People-first Content

This comes directly from Google’s how to create helpful content guide. Whether you’re creating articles for an online magazine or promoting a business, always focus on creating content for people first.

Stop creating search engine-first content! Instead of keyword stuffing and optimizing every paragraph for SEO, focus on answering questions and providing value to your audience.

10. Be Patient and Continue to Improve

Even after applying all these fixes and improvements, it will take a while before you see any real results. It could take weeks or months for Google to notice the changes and start sending more traffic to your website.

However, Google does notice changes. According to Google Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, “If [Google ] sees a site has reduced unhelpful content, the site might start performing better at any time.”

Continue to improve, develop, and publish quality content and Google will reward you eventually.

Conclusion

Most of our tips were inspired by the Google update case study from Zyppy SEO. Give it a thorough read when you get a chance to further understand the concepts and tips we shared here.

We also gathered insights from a few case studies by Growth Pro. And the case study from Niche Pursuits provided interesting insights into the use of AI-written content as well.