The techies at Google are constantly refining their search algorithm with the end goal of providing most relevant and high-quality search results. That said, every time they tinker, it makes waves in the SEO world. The most significant of these ‘waves’ comes by way of the core updates; October of this year marking the third core update.
Core updates are not uncommon, but in order to stay on top of your SEO, being aware of these core updates (and what each one entails) is critical. Let’s dive into what we can expect from the latest core update – and Google’s overall direction.
What Is a Core Update?
Core updates are substantial adjustments to Google’s search algorithm, ostensibly designed to enhance the quality and relevance of search results.
Typically, they represent changes both major and minor to what the algorithm prioritizes. Some past changes have, for instance, put more of an emphasis on site speed, links, authority, etc.
Google typically releases several core updates throughout the year, and each one can have a significant impact on website rankings and search results. Being aware of these updates is critical to adjusting your SEO strategy to reflect what Google is interested in.
The October 2023 Update
The new update is set to complete in the next few days (as of October 18).
The core update includes enhanced spam detection for a variety of languages (not English).
The last update in August prioritized high-quality content (more on that below).
Generally, the real effects of an update tend to be discovered a couple weeks after all the dust is settled – we’ll release any findings to help our fellow SEO navigators out there learn how to handle the changing tides.
What Users Can Expect
During a core update like the one in October 2023, users can anticipate several changes in their search experience:
1. Changes in Search Rankings
One of the most noticeable effects is a shakeup in search rankings. Some websites may see their rankings improve, while others might experience a drop. Determining why this change happened and addressing it (replicating good, eliminating bad) is the key to success.
2. Enhanced Relevance
Core updates aim to provide users with more relevant search results. This means better matching of search queries with informative and authoritative content. The golden rule of SEO is that you can never go wrong creating strong, authoritative, well-researched, and unique content.
3. Improved User Experience
Google always prioritizes UI. Core updates often lead to faster-loading pages, better mobile-friendliness, and improvements in technical and user experience factors. That’s one thing to note – do not neglect mobile. A site that runs great on desktop but sputters on a phone can lead to a drop in ranking on all platforms.
4. Changes in Featured Snippets and Rich Results
Core updates can influence the presentation of search results, including featured snippets and rich results. Users may notice alterations in the format and content of these featured results, providing more relevant and useful information. In the past, we’ve seen a preference for FAQs and other informative content that provides users with direct answers to specific questions.
5. Adaptation to Search Trends
Core updates reflect changes in search trends and user behavior. As user preferences and interests evolve, Google’s algorithms adapt to ensure that search results remain aligned with what users are looking for.
What Users Can Do
If you’ve noticed changes in your rankings after the October 2023 core update, here are some steps to navigate these adjustments:
1. Stay Informed
Keep an eye on industry news and updates related to Google’s algorithm changes. Understanding how these updates work can help you navigate the evolving search landscape more effectively. As time goes on and us SEO nerds have time to play around with the new algorithm, we tend to figure out pretty quickly what works and what doesn’t.
2. Implement ‘Evergreen’ SEO Improvements
Generally speaking, Google’s algorithm is consistently moving towards a specific direction: high value content on fast websites. Ensuring your site loads quickly on both desktop and mobile and has high-quality content never hurts – and might even help you rise faster than normal during an update.
3. Check Backlinks
Backlinking is critical to good SEO – but not all backlinks are created equal. Toxic backlinks, for instance, can actually hurt your rankings. What’s considered toxic changes periodically, and sometimes those changes occur during a core update. Be sure to perform the occasional backlink audit to make sure that your links are high quality – and when they aren’t, that’s what Google’s disavow tool is for.
4. Don’t Panic!
You may experience ranking fluctuations – in fact, you most likely will! Previously solidified keywords might totally fall off the map. But that’s okay. In fact, it happens all the time. More often than not, this adjustment period (the first few weeks following an update) has a lot of wacky jumps both up and down. The key is not to panic, maintain SEO best practices, and adapt to the changes accordingly (once it’s determined what the new algorithm update prioritizes). You can also expect to see, most of the time, your rankings return to about normal after a few days or weeks.
EEAT – What Is It, Why It’s Important
Expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness – or EAT – is Google’s cardinal rule for SEO.
But going into 2023 it got another ‘E’ thrown on there – experience.
Content, in other words, should be produced by experienced parties that understand/have firsthand knowledge of what they’re talking about.
Here’s an example straight from Google:
“. . . if you’re looking for information on how to correctly fill out your tax returns, that’s probably a situation where you want to see content produced by an expert in the field of accounting. But if you’re looking for reviews of a tax preparation software, you might be looking for a different kind of information – maybe it’s a forum discussion from people who have experience with different services.”
Prioritizing content by subject matter experts is more critical than ever – and likely will only grow in importance as more SEO updates are released.
Where Do We Go from Here
Adapting to Google’s constantly evolving algorithm is critical to staying on top of your SEO game – and in turn generating leads to your business.
But if you want to get the most out of your SEO, you’re best off talking to experts . . . like the ones here at Growth Engine. Get in touch and we can begin building you an SEO strategy that will continue to generate leads for your business throughout Google’s changes.