Google's Maccabees Update: What Does That Mean For Your Pages?

Google's Maccabees Update

The announcement of any major update by Google is enough to cause concern about page rankings and online reputations. While minor tweaks are happing regularly, it's the big ones that capture most of the attention. Such is the case with Google's December 2017 update. Maccabees has been in place long enough now for webmasters and business owners to know if they need to make some changes. Here are some things to look at closely if you want to benefit from this latest update.

Start By Comparing Traffic Stats

Before getting too bogged down in specifics, take a look at your traffic patterns. Compare them with the month prior to release and see if the overall visits to your sites are at least remaining steady. If seasonality normally affects traffic flow, allow for that. Assuming the pattern you see is much like it was for the same period in the previous calendar year, Maccabees may not be impacting your website, landing pages, or blogs to any great extent.

Keep in mind that some past major updates took a little while to begin affecting traffic. It's great that your January numbers look good and that the first half of February don't show any traffic loss. Keep monitoring and see how things look through the end of March. Assuming your numbers are consistent and your pages are making a good showing in search engine rankings, your online presence is likely safe.

Finding Weaknesses

The thing about major updates is that what were once strengths that earned a lot of Google love may now be the very things that are dragging your pages down. That means it's time to start figuring out what aspects of your current setup has led to the drop in traffic. The only way to truly determine what must be changed is to break the task down into steps. Each step will be a specific aspect of your traffic generation effort. You will soon see what factors are leading to the drop and what you can do to recover that lost love.

Start With the Content

You learned after Panda that longer content tended to rank higher than shorter pieces. That's still true with Maccabees. Any blog post or other piece with less than 350 words is considered thin. All your pages, including individual blog posts, should have at least 400 words.

Taking things one step further, those words need to mean something. Everything included in the text should address the topic directly. If you have some pieces that are more filler than useful information, they need to be reworked immediately. Get those word counts up and make sure the text is on topic.

Run a crawl to capture the most obvious issues with thin content. Remember that along with the text, pay attention to the meta descriptions and the titles. Are you getting a bit formulaic with those elements? For example, do the descriptions for multiple pages read a lot alike? Are all of your titles mainly questions? It may be time to rewrite some of them and add a little variety.

Is Index Bloat Bringing You Down?

Index bloat is a situation where Google is indexing unnecessary pages higher than those that contain more useful data. If you see an uptick in those less important pages showing up in search engine results, it will negatively impact your overall ranking. The result is the information you want people to see is ranked lower and they are less likely to see it.

If Maccabees has led to index bloat, you can see how bad the problem is by checking your report of indexed URL's via the Search Console. That will make it easier to decide what needs to be reorganized and prevent those unnecessary pages from remaining indexed.

Slow Page Loading

This is harder to quantify, but know that Maccabees will definitely lower your rankings if the pages take too long to load. The problem could be the way the pages are coded. Perhaps you are using graphics that only load quickly on the fastest of connections. Many end users still rely on slightly slower connections; they may abandon your pages because of the slow load time. Google notices and will rank your pages accordingly.

Too Many Ads

Are your pages basically composed of two parts ads and one part original content? That isn't flying today. One of the things that Maccabees frowns upon is sites with a single paragraph of content surrounded by banner and other ads. If you are using this approach, more is not necessarily better when it comes to ads. Trim them back and add more relevant content. You'll recapture some of that lost love.

Staying on top of what Google is doing is in your best interests. Use the tools available to day to keep tabs on how your pages are doing. When necessary, make changes that are in compliance with what Google expects today. In the long run, your traffic will grow rather than shrink.