What you need to know about Google core updates
Google, through their Webmaster Central Blog, have recently released some excellent advice about Google updates.
They confirm what we already know: daily, Google tweaks the algorithm in ways that may affect individual websites or have minor impacts on everyone, but are aimed at improving the user search experience.
Google usually releases one or more changes designed to improve our search results. Most aren’t noticeable but help us incrementally continue to improve.
They will sometimes make much trailed updates such as the Speed Update in July 2018, they will give months of advanced notice and advice (Using page speed in mobile search ranking).
Google also backed this up with several tools that helped Webmasters measure and improve speed:
- Chrome User Experience Report, a public dataset of key user experience metrics for popular destinations on the web, as experienced by Chrome users under real-world conditions.
- Lighthouse, an automated tool and a part of Chrome Developer Tools for auditing the quality (performance, accessibility, and more) of web pages.
- PageSpeed Insights, a tool that indicates how well a page performs on the Chrome UX Report and suggests performance optimizations.
Google core updates
Outside of the small tweaks and improvements, Google will make so-called core updates that may impact significantly the rankings of many websites.
These core updates are “designed to ensure that overall, we’re delivering on our mission to present relevant and authoritative content to searchers.”
If a Google core update does negatively impact your website, don’t view it as a personal affront to your hard won business or website. It should be taken as a sign that you need to improve or adapt your content to the needs of Google’s search users.
Some sites may note drops or gains during them. 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.
What to do if you have been badly affected
Focus on ensuring you’re offering the best content you can. That’s what the algorithms seek to reward.
These are the main areas:
- Content and quality questions
- Does the content provide original information, reporting, research or analysis?
- Does the content provide a substantial, complete or comprehensive description of the topic? Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious? etc
- Expertise questions
- Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page? etc
- Presentation and production questions
- Is the content free from spelling or stylistic issues?
- Was the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced? Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care? etc
- Comparative questions
- Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
- Does the content seem to be serving the genuine interests of visitors to the site or does it seem to exist solely by someone attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines? Etc
Google recommends website owners becoming familiar with Google E-A-T guidelines (search quality guidelines) which stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. Reading the guidelines may help you assess how your content is doing from an E-A-T perspective and improvements to consider.
You should also follow Google’s webmaster guidelines for announcements about new Google Core Updates and other advice.
Our own article on Google E-A-T is here: Google’s latest push for quality and authority in websites through E-A-T
Here are a few articles written by third-parties who share how they’ve used the guidelines as advice to follow:
E-A-T and SEO, from Marie Haynes
Leveraging E-A-T for SEO Success, presentation from Lily Ray
Why E-A-T & Core Updates Will Change Your Content Approach, from Fajr Muhammad