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What We’re Seeing From the June & July Core Updates [Case Study]

It has been a while since I published anything about an algorithm update.  I was starting to think a lot of the updates were becoming pretty similar and it was the same-old thing over and over. However, I’ve been spending a lot of time digging into this one client of ours and they are benefiting a ton from the last 2 updates so I thought I would share what I’ve been noticing.

This particular business is a personal injury lawyer in a very competitive market.  Earlier this year, they doubled their SEO budget and we put all the effort into content, onsite SEO, and link building. We have completely eliminated spam fighting as a tactic for them as we’re seeing it is no longer effective in their market/industry.

We saw a sizable spike in traffic after the June algorithm update that helped their organic ranking as well as their ranking in the local results (3-pack).

So far, we’re seeing impressive results from the July core algorithm update as well. The keywords they are getting the most traffic increases for are what we call “money keywords” because they are super high-intent keywords that follow the pattern of “main service + city”. All the big movers are keywords that contain the name of their city.

The majority of the traffic increases from the July core update are coming from their Google My Business listing for their main office.  We track this in Search Console by using UTM codes on the listing.

Their second office, which we don’t do much work on, took a hit.  The Google My Business (GMB) listing for that office dropped out of the 3-pack for a few of their main terms and was replaced by competitors who probably deserve to be there.  This location is not a high priority and only had 4 reviews. The firm that replaced them had 53.   The funny thing is that although the GMB listing took a hit, their organic ranking in this market had some great improvement.


For the SEO strategy, the main things we’ve been focusing on in the last 6 months are:

  • Content consolidation – We’ve been going through hundreds of their blogs and removing ones that don’t get traffic.  Depending on the topic, we either move the content to the main page about that service, or we delete it entirely (and redirect the URL).   This generally results in less pages overall.  The ones we leave up have tons of good, updated content on them, sorted with jumplinks/anchors on the page.
  • Optimizing pages that haven’t been touched in years.  We’re identifying pages that need work because they previously had some traffic.  We try to focus on onsite tactics that will help increase the click-through-rate when the page shows up in the search results.
  • Link building. We really value quality over quantity here.  In the last few months, these are the types of links we’ve built:
    • Niche (law-based) websites
    • Paid professional association memberships (related to the legal industry)
    • Earned media
    • Local Business Sites (not niche-specific)

I’ll be digging more into other things I’m seeing with core updates at the upcoming webinar I’m doing with Rio SEO.

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Joy Hawkins

Joy is the owner of the Local Search Forum, LocalU, and Sterling Sky, a Local SEO agency in Canada & the USA. She has been working in the industry since 2006, writes for publications such as Search Engine Land, and enjoys speaking regularly at marketing conferences such as MozCon, LocalU, Pubcon, SearchLove, and State of Search. You can find her on Twitter or volunteering as a Product Expert on the Google My Business Forum.

This Post Has 10 Comments

    1. John,

      We aren’t seeing many fake listings in this industry these days. If they exist, they aren’t ranking well. That’s not true of other industries.

    1. Exactly my thoughts. Glad to see content work being rewarded. I have always found using the city you are located works if done correctly.Have been in this game since 1996, have seen a lot and I mean alot. Haha

  1. Why did you decide to consolated the content and how did the client react when you approached them with that idea?

    1. Normally when we look at sites for SMBs we find a ton of their pages/posts get little-to-no traffic and the majority of the conversions come from a handful of pages. This particular company had a different SEO do content for them before we took it over and the majority of the pages were getting less than 5 visits in the last year so it wasn’t hard to convince him they should go.

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