Google’s March 2019 core algorithm update

Posted by Edith MacLeod on 19 Mar, 2019
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Google has confirmed that a broad core algorithm update was released last week. What do we know so far?

Google core algorithm update.

As always, huge interest accompanied the broad core algorithm update run by Google last week, starting on 12 March. Google confirmed the update in a tweet on 13th March:

Google confirmation.

And a day later even gave it a name:

Google names update.

However, beyond that, details are scant. Google has said previously that it releases broad core algorithms routinely several times a year. 

Was it a reversal of the August 2018 udpate?

The last core update - the Medic update - happened in August 2018 and affected YMYL sites and there has been speculation that this update was a reversal.

When asked by SearchEngineland whether this update was a reversal of the previous core updates, with reference to the August Medic update, Google did not confirm or deny, responding with a scripted comment:

“We’re constantly improving our algorithms and build forward to improve.”

SearchEnglineLand reported that many users who gained from the August update were negatively affected this time, while losers from last year saw gains.

Sistrix’s blog post also reports that many of those affected by 2018’s March and August core updates were affected this time too - 75% of winners and 70% of losers in the Sistrix sample.

“It appears that Google is, once again, working on the same parameters. Evaluation criteria and underlying data could be the same.”

RankRanger analysed the effects on the Travel, Home & Garden/Retail, Gambling, Finance and Health niches. Their table of winners and losers shows broadly similar characteristics.

RankRanger winners and losers.

How big was it?

While the March update was big, it doesn’t appear to be on the scale of some previous updates. Google told SearchEngineLand the March update was “far from being the biggest update Google has ever done”.

Rank Ranger’s analysis also concluded that that this update was not as big as August 2018:

“the increases in rank volatility seen during the Medic Update were far steeper than what was recorded during the March 2019 Core Update.”

What should you do?

This core update is the latest in a series of regular core updates. Google constantly works on updating and incrementally improving its algorithms so one update may be a corrective to a previous one.

As for what site owners should do, Google’s tweets relating to the current update refer back to their previous advice from March 2018:

“As with any update, some sites may note drops or gains. There’s nothing wrong with pages that may now perform less well. Instead, it’s that changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded....

There’s no “fix” for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.”

So, the advice is not to rush into hasty changes but to concentrate on continuing to build quality content. 

Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines are a useful read as they provide a clear view of what Google is looking for in terms of quality pages.

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