What the Latest Google Core Update Means For Local Business

For the past few weeks, we’ve discussed what it means to start a new business in 2021. This led to a discussion of local SEO trends, and what they mean for your startup.

Today, we’ll take a step back to examine some of the changes Google made to its core algorithm in the past few years, including a large update during the first week of December.

Have you ever heard of the “butterfly effect”? No, not the cult-classic thriller from 2004 starring Ashton Kutcher, but the philosophical theory.

The butterfly effect postulates that a tiny change in the starting conditions of a system can drastically change the end conditions. In other words, a butterfly flaps its wings in one part of the world, causing a chain of events that lead to a storm on the other side of the planet. 

Here’s one real-world application of the butterfly effect: small changes to search engine results cause new businesses to fail.

The king of search engines is Google, which commands well over 80% of the market for search engines in the United States. When they make a change, it affects millions of business from large to small. 

For the past few years, their changes came in the form of “core updates,” and this most recent update on December 3rd was the second biggest update since 2018.

A core update changes the way websites rank on Google searches, which drastically affects their traffic. The inner workings of the algorithm are secret, but the results are plain to see. This change affected business more than any other update, right in time for the holiday season.

Why This Update Matters

A core update can literally double traffic to your website. But it’s a double-edged sword. The update can also cut traffic to your website in half, depending on your ranking for certain search terms. Those are the most extreme cases. The median business can expect something closer to a 30% gain or loss in traffic, all because of a change to this algorithm.

This is important of course, because page two of Google results is where businesses die. Very few of us click on anything beyond the top five results for our searches. Fewer still scroll to the bottom of the page and hit “next.” Most will change their terms of search and start over before that.

If you don’t have a strong and relevant web presence, you’ll close your business off to most prospects (yes, even local customers).

And of course, as more people see your business’ offer, more people will say yes to it. 

So, engineers at Google, making tweaks to search engine calculations, affect the revenue of  construction businesses on Maui. You could call it a “butterfly effect.”

For more information about how this could affect your business, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

The Biggest Takeaways For Your Business

Industries experience different effects because of the update, but everyone feels it. The changes seem to be in line with Google’s stated philosophy: They want quality, original content to rank higher than clickbait and stacked-up keywords. And the searches now reflect it. 

Here are a few ways to ride this “wave” and capture more conversions, regardless of your specific business:

  • You Need Relevant Digital Marketing

Digital marketing used to be a niche in the wider world of marketing. Now, it is firmly on top of the rest.

The world has gone digital … and it’s not going back. Last year, we saw an explosion in transactions conducted online. Stock in digital products like Netflix and Zoom went through the roof. Companies that knew how to market themselves online succeeded, even if they were a brick-and-mortar shop.

The winners in 2021 will adjust to this change and renew their focus on digital marketing.

  • You Need a Wider View of Your Web Presence.

The strategy for your web presence has to change along with the updates.

In the past, a founder could hang their shingle, make a quick landing page for their company, and call it good.

Now, the highest-ranked websites have a wider approach. There are landing pages, discovery pages, individual services, portfolios/testimonials, about and contact pages, and more. 

There is a difference between loosely-connected web pages and a purposeful exposition of who you are and what you do. Search engines can now tell the difference.

  • Long-form Content Marketing Remains Essential

The biggest winners in this core update have original, trustworthy, and helpful content on their websites. Whether you can access it directly from their home page or not, you can certainly access it from a Google search. This drives traffic to them, establishes credibility for the business, and acts as a crucial step in the buyer’s journey.

Almost every top business has a “Blog” or “Articles” page, or a separate content marketing website you can find through a quick Google search. Even Google

If you don’t have a content marketing approach, developing one will help you climb the ranks on Google. Even if it requires hiring a writer or editor, the investment pays off.

If you do have a content marketing strategy, ask yourself a few important questions about your content. Do you have fresh, original content? Are there spelling and grammar mistakes? Do you shy away from shocking, clickbait-style titles?

Google wants long-form, quality content to take up the all-important page one real estate. Here’s a free guide on how to get started with your content marketing strategy.

As core updates continue, a strong web presence with digital and content marketing will lead to higher traffic on your site. If you want help formulating your new approach, give us a call.




Photos by Benjamin Dada and Kai Wenzel on Unsplash

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