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Google Confirms March 7th Algorithm Update Was About Relevance, Not Quality

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Matt Southern
Matt Southern SEJ STAFF
Google Confirms March 7th Algorithm Update Was About Relevance, Not Quality

Google’s John Mueller has confirmed the March 7th algorithm update did not necessarily target low quality sites. Rather, it had more to do with content relevance.

Mueller revealed this information during a Google Webmaster Hangout held on April 6th. He was asked:

”If we have a site that was hit by the March 7th and 9th quality update that’s a legitimate site, it’s generating world-class quality content, getting lots of links — and it gets scraped. Now, after the update, the other scraper sites are ranking before us … what could we do to fix that?”

First, Mueller clears up some confusion by explaining that most of Google’s algorithm updates are focused on relevance. If rankings were affected by last month’s update, it’s not an indication that a site’s content is of low quality.

A lot of sites lose relevance over time, Mueller says, regardless of how high quality the content is. When it comes to figuring out how to make a site more relevant, Mueller suggests getting feedback from users about what you could be doing differently to improve the site overall.

Mueller’s full response can be seen in the video below, starting at the 11:33 mark.

”For the most part I think that can be kind of tricky because a lot of the updates that we make are more around relevance. Where we’re trying to figure out the relevance of certain queries, and not so much a matter of quality overall.

So that might be something where we don’t think your site is exactly relevant for those specific queries. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad site, it’s just not relevant for those specific queries. So that’s something that just happens to a lot of sites over times. They might be really high quality content but, over time, they’re just not seen as relevant in the overall picture of the web.

So I understand this is always kind of a tricky situation as a site owner because you want to figure out what you can do to get back into the previous situations.

Sometimes, especially when it comes to relevance, it’s not always the case that you did anything wrong that you need to change to get back. It’s just that things have changed.

So what I would recommend doing there is, on the one hand, try and get feedback from your users to figure out how they feel about your website and to try to really get objective feedback on what you could be doing differently or what you might want to target differently, or set up differently.

As always, with a lot of these changes in traffic, I also still recommend checking all of the technical details. Things like: Are we able to crawl all of your content? Are we able to index your content properly?

All of these things that could potentially change depending on these small changes that you sometimes make on a website. So really double check those as well.”

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Matt Southern

Matt Southern

Lead News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a degree in communications, Matt ... [Read full bio]

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