The June 25 Google Update: What You Should Do Now by @beaupedraza

The June 25 Google Update: What You Should Do Now by @beaupedraza

A significant Google algorithm update happened on June 25. This update has had webmasters and SEOs buzzing all week about the significance of its effects on websites across the world.

Rather than succumbing to the information overload that comes with frequent “quality updates” from Google and forgetting about the other times that you saw the same problems, let’s cover the steps that turn a reactive or response into a proactive plan that can help your struggling online presence recover for good.

Google Algorithm Updates Will Only Continue Coming (As They Have for Years)

It’s no secret that Google updates its algorithm often, and based on what we’ve seen since 2000, it will likely continue to do so for years to come.

If you’re noticing the reduction of impressions in Google Search Console over the default view of 28 days, expand the range to 90 days.

If you’re examining site traffic in Google Analytics across the week, expand to a full historical view. If you have access to Google Analytics data that is filtered for your IP and your historical view doesn’t go back far enough, switch to the unfiltered master view.

If you were hit by Google’s algorithm update this week, there’s a chance you’ve been hit before. You may not even realize it.

Why Switch to an Unfiltered View?

Switching to an unfiltered view isn’t exactly the most scientific approach as it will show site visits by employees, webmasters, and those who provide digital support, which tends to be omitted in an IP filtered view when done properly. This will largely depend on your site’s general volume of traffic and weighed against how many daily and monthly visits you believe those visitors generate.

If your site receives tens of thousands of sessions a week and filtered sessions are in the single or double digits during the same time frame, the numbers won’t be exact, but you can still assess the historic damage with minimal variance.

What You Should Look For in Historic GA Data

In short, you’re looking to find evidence of other events similar to June 25 that may have been overlooked. A simple way to handle this includes:

  • In GA, navigate to Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium.
  • Extend the time frame from the default seven-day view to as far back as you can, preferably before 2015. I’ll explain later on.
  • Under the Source/Medium columns, select google/organic.
  • Look at the line chart in a Weekly or Monthly manner, especially if you’re working with years of data.

Let’s use a test site of mine to uncover what a long, slow decline looks like if left untreated:

Two-year organic performance on Google Search for a test site

From here, you should have a pretty good glimpse at how your site has performed on Google Search. Now, you’ll need to ask yourself a couple of questions:

  • Where are the dips in traffic? Any gains? When did the decline start?
  • Can those be explained by seasonal factors or poor tracking issues?
  • Are there any annotations that can provide a better understanding? Often these can answer questions that you may not have considered if they cover site maintenance and migrations. If you’re lucky, you may even have a digital record showing correlation between performance and Google’s algorithm updates.

Annotations in Google Analytics which note site and algorithmic events

At this point, you have a number of options. One of my favorite things to do after an algorithm rolls out involves looking at the site’s top landing page performance before and after an algorithmic event.

Glenn Gabe developed a timeless tutorial on identifying low-quality landing pages affected by the Panda algorithm update using GA and Excel magic which still works wonders today.

What Does Panda 4.2 Have to Do With Google’s June 25 Update?

In short, Google’s Panda 4.2 refresh began slowly rolling out on July 18, 2015, taking weeks to fully go into effect. At the time, Panda was the name for Google’s algorithm that targeted sites of “low quality” content and rewarded sites that adhered to the search engine’s site quality recommendations.

Many of the points that Google made regarding Panda’s intent in 2014 are still focused on in 2017, most notably, with the March 7 rollout of the “Fred” algorithm update.

Here is the same site’s organic performance on Google, comparing “Fred” to this week’s update on a daily basis:

Comparing the June 25th algo update to Fred

The Next Step is Admitting You Have an SEO Problem

Being able to accurately identify the root causes plaguing your website can seem like a scary proposition for some.

Using the scientific method can help you figure out whether you have a big SEO problem.

For those who have left their memories of childhood science fairs at the door of adulthood, here are the steps along with a general example for each situation:

Make an Observation

This is where many of us were at just a few days ago. For others, this might not have happened yet! One example of an observation I’ve seen across the web has generally followed the format of “My organic traffic on Google is down!”

Ask a Question

After identifying the downward trend, you may be asking yourself “Why did my organic traffic take a hit?” This is where most tend to stall, unsure of where to go or how to proceed. For SEOs, there’s a good reason for this…

Form a Hypothesis

The reason why many digital marketers and webmasters never reach this step is that when it comes to handling “The Google Dance”, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of ranking factors that come with the territory. However, by taking a step back and reviewing your site’s historic performance and comparing them to any changes that have been made on your site, you can make the case that “Turning hundreds of pages with thin content into ones that speak to the intent of each page will restore our site’s previous rankings.”

Because this is a cause and effect relationship, be mindful of your variables – the aspects of your site that you’re changing. If you aren’t familiar with the site or if your experience in handling general website optimization efforts is minimal, you may want to control your other variables to ensure that any other changes outside of the ones stated in the hypothesis don’t turn your poor rankings into non-existing ones.

Make a Prediction

“I predict that if I turn my site’s thin pages into vibrant pages that people want to read, share, click, and convert on, then my rankings will return.” Easy enough, right?

Conduct an Experiment

Now, this is where we turn a good idea into action. For this example, identify site pages that you believe are the source of your traffic (and rankings) issues identified and also confirm that if those pages are to be updated, that other unaffected pages won’t be next as a result. It needs to be said that if you’re going to write great content, you should know how Google defines “great content”.

If all goes well, you stand to see your site return to its former glory or even better, have it reach newer heights!

If this doesn’t affect your site at all, you may have other issues at play such as over-optimized anchor text or poor mobile experience, which means you’ll need to return to the hypothesis drawing board.

Since you’ve produced content that marketers dream of, this shouldn’t be a detriment once you begin your next experiment.

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

One piece of advice I was given early in my professional career came from my first agency mentor, who recommended that I focus less on the algorithms and more on the path towards consistently improving on the smallest of every detail.

With Google’s algorithms, there are no easy fixes for a poor showing. SEO success takes effort.

Your website is a single entity composed of hundreds of interconnected parts and numerous off-site accessories that if focused on individually using a detailed plan of action backed by tested best practices and continuous research, will add up to success in the long run.

Image Credits

Screenshots by Beau Pedraza. Taken June 2016.

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Uber & Amazon Flex in California; the Land of Milk, Honey and the Working Poor

Uber & Amazon Flex in California; the Land of Milk, Honey and the Working Poor

I was feeling lazy and running a little late so rather than grabbing BART in San Francisco I grabbed an Uber to the airport today. As I typically do, I asked the driver how Uber was treating him given the recent firing of his boss… He grumbled and said they sucked and it was getting worse.

At first I thought it was just the standard line but he then said: “Amazon wasn’t too bad these days”.


Oh you work at Amazon?

Yes I am an Amazon Flex driver.


I am a contract worker for Amazon deliveries.

Oh. Amazon’s same day grocery service? Or their same day delivery service?

No, no regular packages coming into one of their warehouses. They have four warehouses in the area. These are just Prime, 2 day deliveries.1

Does Amazon cover any of your expenses?2

Hah, no but neither does Uber.

How well do they pay you?

As a contract worker, I sign up for 4 hour shifts and get $80. Sometimes, like on Pride Day, when there is a ton of traffic and no one wants to work I can get $120. Sometimes I can only get a 3 hour shift for $60. It’s not bad. I finished the run early and started on Uber. If another another Amazon time block is available I might grab it. It depends on the deliveries for the day.

How many packages did you deliver today?

Around 30 today. Yesterday I had almost 70 but still was able to finish a little early3. I had to take the Amazon job. I was working Uber and used to make $2000 a week but now, even with Amazon its down to about a $1000 a week. Uber keeps cutting us back. And if the new San Francisco rules go into affect it will be even worse.

Oh you get paid your four hours even if you get done early? And then you pick up some Uber hours before you go home? Where do you live?

Yes.. as soon as I get them delivered I can sign off4. I live in Fresno.

How far is Fresno from San Francisco?

Its about 2 and half, three hours?

You commute that far?

No, no. I sleep in my car.

Sleep in your car? Every night?

3 or 4 nights straight in a week before I go home.

Where do you find a safe place to sleep?

Oh, I have my spots. I really like Palo Alto, its really safe there. A lot of Uber drivers sleep in their cars. I’m not the only one. Not by a long shot.

And tonight, it’s Thursday, you heading home?

Nah, I am driving Uber till 2, 3 or 4 in the morning.

Why so late? You need the income?

I need the bonus.


If I get 41 more rides between now and end of day I can make my bonus5. It will be enough to pay for my gas.

But it almost 2 in the afternoon, will you make it? That’s 41 rides in 10-12 hours. That seems like a lot of rides.

It is. I hoped to get another Amazon shift but one hasn’t popped up. I don’t know if I will make the 41 trips but I have to get gas the money. The ends at 4:00 am tomorrow so I will keep at it as long as I can.

It really stresses me out. And that really stresses my wife out. She’s pregnant and I gotta do something.

You can’t find work in Fresno?

Nothing has turned up but this can’t go on. My wife is working part time but soon she’ll have to quit.

What did you do “before”?

I was a manager at a chain restaurant. My boss asked me to take on a second location with no extra pay and I couldn’t do it… it would have meant another 4 or 5 hours a day and no raise. I had to quit.

My wife and I are looking for a place. We have two kids and our third is on the way and we have a 2 bedroom apartment for only $950 a month. California is too expensive and it’s killing me. But we had to move down there to get a rent we could afford.

But we don’t have family nearby. I could be up here when my wife goes into labor.

Have you thought about moving out of state to someplace less expensive?

Can’t. Not for a long time. My wife’s children are from her previous marriage, there are custody issues and her husband is a real….

You car looks new. What is that costing you?

About $500 a month. Gas another $1400. Almost $2K a month right there. 6

And insurance?

Insurance is another $250 a month, and repairs last month were a $1000. They usually run less but I needed brake work. Have to take it back as they are making noises again. Dam mechanic.


We arrived at the airport. I tipped him7 and we said good bye.

Some thoughts.

1 – Amazon Flex zipped by me and I hadn’t realized that Amazon was staking out the last mile of their logistics network. Using piece workers and flexible scheduling they have created a real world Mechanical Turk and managed to reduce their delivery costs for the last mile. Apparently the program has been rolling out over the past 8 months. And is starting to get Uber like driver complaints as well.

2- Stupid question really. I didn’t think that they would pay expenses but I thought I would ask. No capital requirements needed, no pesky health insurance, no vacation pay… just some unemployed workers with a car. The reserve pool of labor comes in handy.

3- Even though Amazon books a driver for 4 hours, they really are just concerned about managing costs, controlling the per package costs and removing any profit from the delivery. Depending on the situation it ranged from a high of $2.50 per package to as little as just over $1. It seems like it will be hard for UPS to compete with this cost and exploitation structure. While I doubt that UPS drivers will want to use their own cars for delivery, Walmart is doing a pilot where employees are doing deliveries on the way home. Hmm.

4- Once Amazon figures out that folks are finishing early there will be the temptation to pull an Uber on them and start pulling back on the pay rate. Or the hours. Or both.

5- Uber may think of this as gamefication and psychology. This fellow thinks of it as a very heavy ball and chain and necessary action for brute survival. Hmm it all depends on your point of view.

6-You have to love headlines like this: How You Can Earn $18 to $25 an Hour With Amazon Flex. Ooops… neglected a few expenses in my calculation… Oh did I mention that you have to 15% for FICA? $80 becomes $68 at tax time and once you subtract the car costs you are once again barely over minimum with Amazon. And remember he likes it more than Uber.

7- I tipped not because he had done a great job. Although he had. But as an act of charity. Charity? How does that help. In fact in aggregate it only will make matters worse. Ultimately its up to Amazon and the government to establish a wage that doesn’t drive these souls into the working poor house. Tipping ends up just being another cost that Uber can externalize. It doesn’t solve the core issues.

Sharing economy my ass. This guy was smart and hard working. He managed to work himself right into a corner. I am not sure that he and his are going to find their way out.

But spin this story in the future but a short distance and it becomes very dystopian indeed. Not only do you see the collapse of retailers and malls and  a complete rearrangement of the building landscape, you see more national companies (think Amazon/Whole Foods, Uber and who knows who else) achieving scale at a local level using these techniques. Local stalwarts like UPS, FedEx would be swept up in the change. These business models will be driving whole new waves of change, disruption and likely more drastic outcomes than we are seeing now.

Companies like Uber and Amazon don’t see themselves as cab company or as a book seller. They see themselves as marketplaces and logistic companies. There is no need to profit from the widget or service itself that they are providing but from the delivery of the transaction or the transportation of the product itself. They want a slice of all business and are thus motivated to drive the actual pricing as low as possible to attract consumers .

In this scenario contract workers are but a temporary inconvenience pending the arrival of more automated, less troublesome solutions for the last mile. And every business service or product that is provided in the local market at scale is a target for their involvement.

But the future isn’t linear. These first and second order levels of change don’t necessarily need to be negative. We watched over the past 70 years as we let our shared spaces and workers (i.e. us) be controlled by market forces. The outcome was  suburban sprawl of the worst order, traffic jams, smog and global warming and many low skilled workers on the edge of desperation.

If we can see this new, radical outcome heading our way we can make choices and implement policies that leave the members of our society whole and the landscape in which we live habitable.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.

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