Have you noticed any changes in your site’s search rankings since the March Google Algorithm Update? SEO experts detected significant tremors in mid-March, indicating another large-scale algorithm update by Google. The search giant confirmed the update’s completion on March 28, leaving website owners and SEO professionals to assess its impact on their online visibility.
As with any significant core algorithm update, the details – and the effects – haven’t been immediately evident. Generally, experts have indicated that this was a broad update, targeting all types of content rather than focusing on one particular area. Additionally, it’s believed that this update wasn’t necessarily a penalty but instead a promotion or reward for great web pages.
So, we dove into data from our Keyword Tracking Tool to answer the question: how did Carrot sites fare?
First, a little about the data…
Carrot’s Keyword Tracking tool has enabled thousands of our customers to track tens of thousands of keywords, resulting in a vast reservoir of SEO data that is one of the most comprehensive in the real estate industry. We can aggregate this data and paint a picture of what happened on our network before, during, and after these large-scale Google algorithm updates. This data lets us keep our finger on the pulse regarding what it takes to win with SEO in the real estate industry.
That said, this data represents precisely that – aggregate changes. It’s important to monitor your own sites to see how algorithm updates impact the pages and search phrases you care about most.
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Overall, a positive update for Carrot sites. Less volatility. More upside.
We wanted to look specifically at how Top 10 Rankings fared during and after this update finished rolling out. Of all URL/keyword combinations tracked through our Keyword Tracking Tool, a little over 40% sit in the Top 10 of Google Search Results. That’s a lot of first-page real estate being claimed by Carrot members!
And overall, there were more Top 10 Rankings following this update than there were prior to it. In other words, following Google’s algorithm update, even more of that first-page real estate is being claimed by Carrot sites.
% of Tracked Keywords in the Top 10
Unique URLs w/ Top 10 Rankings
After finding that there was a net positive in terms of sites and keywords now sitting in the Top 10, we want to paint a picture of how much volatility occurred. Were there many rankings turnovers, or are the same sites and keywords ranking in the Top 10 now as before?
Overall, this core algorithm update brought much less volatility and more upside than August’s Helpful Content Update.
To determine this, we put each URL/keyword combination into one of three groups:
- The “Maintained” Group – was in the Top 10 before the update and is still in the Top 10 following the update.
- The “Lost” group – these were in the Top 10 before the update but are no longer sitting in the Top 10 following the update.
- The “Gained” group – these moved into the Top 10 following the update.
A few things immediately stand out. First, there was much less turnover and volatility during this update. Nearly 63% of the keywords we looked at fell in the “maintained” group, compared with only 53% during the August Helpful Content Update.
When only looking at those in the Top 10 Rankings before the update, 78% of those keywords were still in the Top 10 following the update!
Next, significantly fewer keywords dropped out of the Top 10 following this update compared to August. And more keywords jumped into the Top 10 following this update as well. All that to say, there was a lot more good than bad – which is always a win following a large-scale update.
The overall impact is a net positive for Carrot sites – with more sites, URLs, and keywords in the Top 10 following the March Core Algorithm Update.
What ranking positions were most impacted?
Generally, we saw consolidation at the top of the search results page – meaning that more URLs and keywords improved their rankings within the Top 10 than those whose Top 10 rankings got knocked.
For positions 1 through 8, more keywords were ranking in that position following the update than before it. We see this especially play out in the Top 3 rankings results. The number of first-position keywords tracked through our Rank Tracker Tool grew to 1800+!
This wasn’t only true because more keywords jumped into the Top 10, either! The group of keywords already in the Top 10 before the update showed fairly significant positive growth toward the top of the search results page as well.
Overall, there was no rhyme or reason to which rankings positions were impacted. The spread of keywords that dropped out of the Top 10 was pretty evenly spread in terms of the position they sat prior to the update.
Similarly, the keywords that “jumped” into the Top 10 following the update were spread across the board. Instead of only barely cracking the Top 10, some skyrocketed to the top one to three slots.
Were any specific phrases impacted more than others?
The short answer is … not really.
We took all of the search phrases and keywords that we analyzed, stripped out location-specific information, and performed some topic modeling to get an idea of what general “types” of search phrases were either lost or gained during this update. There wasn’t a huge difference, but that may tell us even more about the details of this update!
Note: the phrases in the “theme” column in each of the following graphics aren’t the search phrases themselves. They’re just general topics representing many of the tracked keywords themselves.
Sell house fast
Buy and sell houses quickly
Cash buyers and reviews
Avoiding foreclosures and wholesale properties
Homes and properties in specific locations
Real estate solutions and investment group
Homes for rent and mobile homes
Real estate buyers and cash offers
Worth, homes, and properties in specific locations
Topic models for lost keywords – as to be expected, we see a lot relating to primary Motivated Seller phrases.
Sell house fast
Buy and sell houses quickly
Cash buyers and homes for sale
Houses for sale in specific locations
Real estate solutions and investment group
Inherited properties and selling homes
Houses for sale in Florida
Real estate buyers and foreclosures
Real estate buyers and home buying process
Real estate buyers and homes for sale in New Jersey
And similarly, the topic models for “gained” keywords. Overall, we see much of the same.
In theory, we shouldn’t expect a ton of difference in “lost” and “gained” keywords or search phrases during a Core Algorithm Update. That’s because these core updates aren’t focused on keywords themselves. Instead, they’re more broad-based and focus on website-based factors like E-E-A-T scores, high-quality backlinks, and good, relevant content all-around.
How should you respond to this update on your own site?
There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to a Google Core Algorithm update. Google certainly doesn’t reveal their “secret sauce.” But because we know that they are generally focused on website-based factors like E-E-A-T scores, it is always a good idea to take a look at these things if the March Update negatively impacted your site.
- Content Quality – Ensure your content is unique, valuable, and informative to users. Make sure it is up-to-date and in-depth. Also, make sure it’s still relevant to what the end user may be searching for. When it comes to SEO, you can never lose by taking another look at the quality of your content.
- Write with E-E-A-T in mind – E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. Especially in the real estate space, showcasing credibility and expertise is increasingly important to capture top-ranking spots. Build out your “About Us” page. Highlight some testimonials from past clients. Tell readers about how you are uniquely – and authoritatively – positioned to help them. This matters just like relevant content!
- Check your backlink health – Any spammy or low-quality links in your backlink profile? These could harm your site’s reputation and knock you down the search results page. Disavow any spammy or low-quality links and make a plan to acquire some high-quality ones.
We’ll call this round a win for Carrot.
In the never-ending battle to secure the top spots on the Google search results page, we call the March Algorithm Update an overall win for Carrot websites and customers.
More customers, more domains, and more keywords are ranking in the Top 10 after the update than prior to it. And even better, more keywords are in the #1 spot at the top of the page!
Be on the lookout for more reports like this as we put our first-class Ranking Tool – and the reservoir of data it creates – to use to keep you informed about what’s happening across the SEO landscape.
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