Core updates

Core updates
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A core update is when Google implements significant and often broad changes to its search engine algorithm. While there are some exceptions, these updates generally seek to improve the search experience for users by attempting to provide more relevant, valuable, and trustworthy content.

Most of these updates are pretty harmless and may go unnoticed by most. Some are more infamous as they have significantly changed how search engines operate. Some examples include Panda, RankBrain, Hummingbird, Pigeon, and Fred, and you can explore a full Google algorithm history on Search Engine Journal.

In 2022, Google released its list of Google Search ranking updates, making it easier than ever to confirm if an algorithm change has taken place while providing another helpful resource.

If You’ve Been Hit by an Algorithm Update

Should your website happen to be hit by a core update, I would recommend the following actions before doing anything drastic.

  1. Stay calm and monitor.
    • It often takes two weeks for these updates to roll out. If you’re hit by the update upon the initial rollout, chances are that if you’re abiding by the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, you should recover once the update has fully rolled out.
  2. Use data to identify content that needs improvement.
    • Always use data to back up your decisions, and don’t make any drastic and sweeping changes unless absolutely necessary.
  3. Look at your list of problem pages from a relevance point of view.
    • Is the content as relevant and trustworthy as it once was?
  4. Improve your content from an authority point of view.
    • If the decision is made to update content, do this with relevance in mind before considering other factors.
  5. Conduct a competitor analysis.
    • Is your website the only one to have been hit, or are others in your space also affected?
  6. Revisit your technical SEO basics.
    • Review your website against technical performance standards and look for any opportunities that need to be addressed.
  7. Offset your traffic loss by publishing new content.
    • Produce new, high-quality, and relevant content to help offset any traffic losses you may see, especially if none of the above actions have helped.

Core algorithm updates such as these happen every year, but an exceptionally high number took place during 2022. To help with this, the folks over at Oncrawl collated this into a handy list and infographic showing the main core updates of the year.

Since then, in 2024 especially, we have had a series of updates specifically targeting spam, which resulted in many site owners receiving manual actions.

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