Google updates require patience

We’re still talking about the latest round of Google updates, focussing on the quality issues and how you go about dealing with them. So far, we’ve found that removing keyword phrases causes your site to move up in the rankings. We think it has to do with readability; if your page has fewer keyword strings, Google views it as an easier read and a better reader experience. Not so spammy, in other words.

I was working on these changes as a test for one particular site. It wasn’t a client; I just wanted to see what results I could achieve with the site. The site had been hit quite significantly and I recommended removing a bunch of keywords from a particular page. It took time, and it’s mostly worked, but the site is still having a hard time ranking for short tail phrases or restoring international rankings.

Something I’ve noticed during these changes is an effect called transition rank. The idea is that Google doesn’t always give favourable changes to people who alter their site specifically to improve rankings. The idea is that if you make a change and don’t like the result you get, you’ll change back after a short time. I don’t know whether it’s because the Googlebot has to have time to crawl your site multiple times to get the true rank or if Google just likes to mess with us, but it usually holds off a bit before giving the real new rank on a site.

When we make changes to a site, the rankings will often fall. This is a transition rank, not where you’ll eventually end up. Your best bet is to hold on, wait, and do absolutely nothing. Your rankings should pick back up after Google crawls your site again. Once you get past that transition rank, your site should go back up.

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