How Did Google’s March 2019 Core Algorithm Update Affect SEO?

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If there is one thing certain in the search engine optimization (SEO) environment, it is this: nothing remains the same for long. Continual changes in how search engines behave, coupled with emerging techniques and strategies for improving search visibility, mean that SEO professionals must be ready to adapt. The same holds true in SEO for insurance agents; the tactics that worked last year are unlikely to produce the same results in the future. Google’s update to their core algorithm is the latest change SEO professionals have to face. In this guide, we’ll explore the March 2019 algorithm update with an eye on how it may affect SEO efforts in the near term.

Google’s Core Algorithm Update

In 2018, search engine giant Google rolled out three substantial updates to its core algorithm, the complex set of metrics and processes that ultimately generate search results for users. These three updates served to put SEO professionals on their toes; some websites performed better than expected in search results, while others plummeted in rankings.

In March 2019, Google again posted an update to its algorithm. While the company does not reveal full details about what is incorporated into its various updates, search professionals have been able to piece together certain details. The primary change is a seeming reversal of the August 2018 “Medic” update, which strongly influenced certain query sectors like healthcare, financial planning, and legal information. This update was designed to reward sites for adhering to Google page quality guidelines, which are often referred to as EAT or Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. In the Medic update, many websites saw a significant drop in search rankings; once the March update rolled out, those same websites saw a boost in rankings.

Google’s ability to process user-oriented signals and search intent is also a part of the March update. In general, sites that have higher page views per user visit, lower bounce rates, and higher time on site (TOS) have benefitted from the update, and their rankings moved up in search results. Again, Google is rewarding those websites that provide relevant and authoritative content to site visitors – the ultimate goal of every algorithm update.

What Site Categories Were Impacted by the Update?

Just like in the so-called Medic update, which rolled out in August 2018, Google’s March algorithm update influenced the rankings of certain user query categories. Unlike the Medic update, far more than health and wellness sites were affected. Some of the categories affected by the March update include:

  • Health information sites
  • Directory sites
  • E-commerce portals
  • Content-oriented sites
  • Software information sites
  • Agency sites

Numerous other categories were affected, with some seeing across-the-board ranking improvements while others dropped in rankings. SEO for insurance agents may have been affected – either positively or negatively — as that category straddles some of the others impacted by the algorithm update.

Improving SEO After the March Algorithm Update

As with every other Google algorithm update, SEO professionals immediately went to work to understand and to respond to the changes. After analyzing changes in website rankings, numerous techniques were evaluated to improve rankings. A major search engine information resource asked SEO professionals across the country what changes or strategies were used to make improvements. Surprisingly, a significant percentage of survey respondents indicated that they did nothing – opting to wait out any shifts in rankings. Others reported tactics like:

  • Improving technical SEO.
  • Reducing or eliminating ads, particularly sidebar and banner ads.
  • Improving website content – adding detail and authoritativeness to existing content on sites.
  • Removed links.
  • Added links, especially from authoritative sources like news media, government sites, and business directories.
  • Improving the user experience, such as navigation structure and overall site usability.

In simple terms, SEO professionals sought to improve the quality of sites, whether that meant adding on-page features and content or improving off-page SEO components. Google will continue to roll out new updates, and once again, the SEO community will respond to the changes in rankings those updates create. SEO for insurance agents is an ever-changing and dynamic playing field, requiring constant adaptation and the need for dedicated professionals able to harness its power in improving search visibility.

About Agency Tsunami

Agency Tsunami is the digital marketing division of Neilson Marketing Services, who has provided the insurance distribution sector with innovative marketing and communication solutions for over twenty-five years. With our Agency Tsunami program, we have implemented an integrated marketing strategy that includes optimized, professional websites supported by high-quality SEO and Social Media for hundreds of insurance retailers and wholesalers. Our goal is to help your insurance business perform and generate new opportunities. Give us a call at (800) 736-9741 to learn more about how we can do that for you.

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