What’s this about?

This is an extract from The Week In Search SEO Update for w/e 26th May 2017.

This post contains actionable insights and an update on the Google Update 17th May 2017 and how low quality content and overly aggressive advertising may have caused ranking drops.

#SEO #GoogleUpdates #ContentStrategy #ContentQuality

Google Update 17th May


  • The algorithm shift reported by various sources and discussed in last week’s SEO Update, appears to be a core algorithm update.
  • There has still been no official confirmation from Google. This may have been a “tweak” with fairly large-scale impact.
  • The update appears to focus on content quality and ads obscuring content.

TWIS 19 May 2017 Rumoured Google Update

Actions to take:

  1. Check your analytics, if you saw a sudden drop in traffic around 17th May, you were likely impacted by this.
  2. If impacted, review whether it was site-wide, section-wide, or an impact at page-level.
  3. Review search impressions / search clicks in Google Search Console to discover if impacted at the level of an individual keyword, groups of keywords, or across the board.
  4. Once the pages / content has been identified, review for poor User Experience / Content Quality. Look for thin articles, repeated content, and overly-aggressive ads.
  5. Either rework the ads so they are not so aggressive and rework the content so it is better quality, or noindex the pages, so they are removed from the index.
  6. Ensure any updated pages are included in  an XML Sitemap submitted to Google Search Console with a correct Last-Modified Date. If the site is particularly large, consider creating an individual XML Sitemap listing the affected pages.
  7. Contact me if you would like assistance in assessing the impact of and / or recovering from this Google update.


Google Updates like this are always hard to pin down. The whole ranking algorithm hasn’t changed, but parts of it are likely to have. Google often just describes these kinds of updates as run-of-the-mill, which usually means that an element of the algorithm was tweaked and the effects of that change  were fairly wide and large-scale. The scale of the changes may be unintended.

There is an element of confirmation bias in analysing the sites that drop – we see the issues that we want to see. The sites that drop and require assistance may also be doing SEO in a fairly aggressive manner, which again causes the perceived issues to stick out like a sore thumb.

In the absence of any contravening data though, you have to go on what’s in front of you. If the sites / pages affected all have low-quality content and overly-aggressive ads, then the likelihood is that is what Google was targeting in this instance.

Regardless of any updates, the best way to rank in Google is always to build good quality content which does not rely on overly-aggressive advertising strategies.

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