What to do if You’ve Been Hit by an Algorithm Update

What to do if you've been hit by an Algorithm Update

Google frequently updates its search engine algorithms, which can significantly impact rankings. How your SEO agency or SEO consultant responds to them can be a crucial litmus test of their expertise.

If your SEO agency or consultant panics every time a core algorithm update is released, it’s probably time to move to a different supplier.

Navigating Changing Algorithms

If your website is built on a foundation that adheres to Google’s guidelines, chances are you shouldn’t be affected too severely by most core algorithm updates.

These updates are designed to reward websites that provide a better user experience and more relevant content.

However, it’s essential to acknowledge that there are exceptions to this rule. Not all core updates are created equal.

Some updates, like the Helpful Content Update (HCU) that rolled out in September 2023, or core updates like the October 2023 Core Update, can have a more profound impact on specific niches or industries.

The HCU update, in particular, appeared to affect websites that diligently followed SEO best practices, and it didn’t make sense to most people to see these sites affected. As a result of this, it is generally believed that the October Core Update was released so soon after in an attempt to “undo” some of the damage that was done by the HCU. 

A Strategic Approach During Updates

During an algorithm update, the best course of action is often patience. Resist the urge to make rash changes or impulsive reactions in response to immediate fluctuations. 

Instead, I recommend waiting until Google has fully rolled out the changes. Take the time to assess its impact on your website’s performance, and carefully plan your next steps.

Take time to study your data, understand the nature of the update (as best as possible), and make informed decisions.

Avoid Sweeping Changes

Do not make any sudden on the back of an update. Making sweeping changes during this time may have a more detrimental impact on your website’s performance.

It’s crucial to proceed with caution and base your actions on data and analysis rather than impulsive reactions.

Knowing what to do if you've been hit by an Algorithm Update

With this in mind, I put together this playbook image (below) to help determine the best course of action on the back of an algorithm update.

You’ll notice that, in most cases, the best reaction is to do nothing. Where action is requested, I suggest nothing too drastic and either creating a new piece of content or optimising existing content.

Hit by Algo Update
What should you do if you've been hit by an algorithm update?
Click the image to expand.

While core algorithm updates can be unsettling, they are also an integral part of the SEO landscape; Google updates their algorithms many times per year. 

So, remember to analyse your performance carefully, monitor the Search Status Dashboard and plan any next steps carefully and strategically – do not make any panicked or sudden changes.

An experienced SEO agency or SEO consultant will be able to navigate algorithm updates with composure, prioritise adherence to Google’s guidelines, and make data-driven decisions in your SEO strategy.  


Subscribe To Tech SEO Tips Newsletter

The latest news from the SEO industry, plus tips and discussions on improving your tech SEO performance.