Google’s core algorithm updates used to be shrouded in mystery but recently the search engine has made efforts to be more transparent. The June update was announced in advance, with confirmation when fully rolled out.
A core algorithm update usually produces discernible effects and winners and losers, with those whose rankings have been hit looking for answers to try and regain their positions.
Now Google has published a blog post on what webmasters should know about core updates.
Google says there’s nothing wrong with pages that have seen a drop, and core updates don’t in fact target specific pages or sites.
The changes aim to improve content assessment across the board, so “may cause some pages that were previously under-rewarded to do better”. The ranking order will change and some pages will simply be pushed down, replaced by more deserving ones.
Google reiterates its advice to webmasters not to try and fix the wrong things,
“We know those with sites that experience drops will be looking for a fix, and we want to ensure they don’t try to fix the wrong things. Moreover, there might not be anything to fix at all.”
but to focus on continuing to provide the best possible content.
Assess your content
Google’s advice remains to focus on providing the best possible content. Guidance in the form of a set of questions you should ask about your content falls into four broad categories:
- Content and quality: is it original, substantial, insightful, helpful and adding value?
- Expertise: is it well-researched, authoritative, accurate and by a trusted authority?
- Presentation: is it well written and error-free, does it display well on various devices?
- Comparative: does it provide value compared to other similar content, and serve the genuine interest of visitors?
Google advises webmasters to carry out an audit of drops, assessing pages affected against these questions.
See Google’s blog post for the full list of questions.
“If you understand how raters learn to assess good content, that might help you improve your own content. In turn, you might perhaps do better in Search…. Reading the guidelines may help you assess how your content is doing from an E-A-T perspective and improvements to consider.”
Broad core updates happen every few months and a common question is how long it will take for a site to recover.
Google says - assuming improvements made - it might not be until the next core update rolls out. However, “if improvements warrant” content can also recover following one of the smaller core updates which are constantly being released.
Google notes that improvements made by webmasters don’t guarantee a recovery and pages will be outranked by more deserving content.
Is this useful?
Yes. Although Google’s advice broadly corresponds to what it has said before, this is a helpful and focused guide and checklist which webmasters can consult when the next core update comes rolling out.