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What do professional services marketing teams need to know about Google Updates

Google has announced a series of core updates. David Sayce explains what these will mean for digital marketers in professional services firms.

If you are working in digital marketing for a law or accountancy firm, you know how changes to the Google algorithm can impact a website ranking in search engines, leading to changes in visitors, conversion to business, and, ultimately, impacting revenue.

A drop in search engine position from number one to number six can see as many as 25% fewer visits to your website for a single keyword alone.

Google updates happen all the time, the algorithm is tweaked and changed numerous times every day. However, a few times a year, larger updates appear, such as the Core Updates or the upcoming Page Experience.

Professional services firms are seen differently by Google

Google understands your website and the impact it can have on people. Professional services firms’ websites are seen within a classification call YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) –  websites that can have a direct effect on finances, health or welfare of a visitor. Along with regulations and compliance, law and financial services firms need to consider this as part of their digital strategy.

This means the quality guidelines that Google uses are taken to a higher standard than other websites. It is important, therefore, that your website delivers across expertise, authority and trust, known as E-A-T. This was mostly seen in an update in the 2020 Core update (December 2018) and had a huge impact on many websites.

Without doubt, the quality of the technical build and content on your website is vital. I often advise clients to run a rolling six-month review of content across the website and an annual technical review or audit.

What is the worse that could happen?

Change happens, for websites that have had little attention for two or more years, this could lead to your online visibility being reduced, impacting how people find your services and understand your brand. 

How do I know there has been an update to the algorithm?

Fluctuations happen all the time, often seen as unconfirmed updates. Google will, however, often confirm Core Updates and, in a surprise move, there has been knowledge of the Core Web Vitals update for over a year. Awareness is key:

  • Keep an eye on the search engine results page for your key terms and look out for any big changes in the search results.
  • Use the alerts built into Google Analytics for sifts in visitors to key web pages.
  • Use SEO software, such as SEMrush, to monitor and track keywords most important to your firm.

What are the June and July Core Updates?

The June update, lasting about two weeks, ended on June 12 and was a regular Broad Core Algorithm Update, something that Google announces every few months. This update saw a high level of fluctuation across professional services firms during the rollout. Google has confirmed the second part of this update will occur during July, meaning further potential changes in ranking.

What are Core Web Vitals?

This is the Page Experience Update and will slowly be rolling out through June and July. While big changes are not expected, consider this a warning shot to a website of poor quality. 

This update is about user experience and how they perceive the experience using new metrics call Core Web Vitals (CWV). The impact on your website might be low, but I expect this to become a more important metric through 2022. CWV are in the same category as website speed, security and mobile-friendliness and specifically include:

  • How quickly a page loads.
  • How soon elements such as menus and button are clickable.
  • The visual stability of the website.

Make sure you are set up with Googles Search Console to keep an eye on these.

How best to mitigate risk from Google Updates?

Be prepared and be proactive. If you think your website has been impacted by an update, don’t rush in to make changes before understanding what has happened, there are often a few weeks of fluctuation during an update.

In recent years, the visibility of your website is focusing more on the quality of the site, its pages and the content. Take a step back and ask yourself these questions:

  • Does the content provide original information, reporting, research or analysis?
  • Does the content provide a substantial, complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • Does the headline and/or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?
  • Does the headline and/or page title avoid being exaggerating or shocking in nature?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?

Your website is a key part of your brand and how your firm is perceived. The buying decision is all but complete by the time a client makes contact and you can guarantee they have viewed your brand on Google and your website.

David Sayce a Digital Marketing and SEO consultant and Director of PaperGecko.com.

David began working in digital marketing in 1995 as a Marketing Director of a sporting good firm before moving into B2B and Professional Services industry, including roles in legal marketing as Head of Digital with a top 20 International City Law firm.

Along with consulting with firms on their digital strategy, David also works with firms going through large scale migrations and regularly performs comprehensive audits across some of the top firms in professional services.

Matt Baldwin
Matt Baldwin
Co-founder – Coast Communications

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