Google core updates are launched constantly in its system and algorithms to improve user experience. These updates are aimed at improving the search results – providing more authentic and related results to its users. Google wants to provide the best research results against any query, and it wants to do it fast. These updates allow Google to adapt and evolve according to new trends and search preferences of the users.
These changes are sometimes times big, while other times, they are just minor. However, all these changes and updates have one aim: to improve Google search results. These updates mean different things for different people.
For general users, it means that their searches will yield better results. For tech experts and analysts, it means that they get a chance to review and comment upon these changes and also predict where the company might be heading in the future (though no one knows that for sure). Finally, for websites and business owners, every update brings changes to their rankings and fluctuation in organic traffic – some see their ranking improve, while others see it plummet. So, for them, any new update means that they have to adapt so that their content keeps getting ranked higher.
Why does Google update its algorithms?
How the Google search system works is common knowledge. When we enter a query, the Google algorithm searches the entire index and show us the best results against our query. Thus, algorithms are the most vital cog in Google’s search machine.
To stay relevant to the changing trends and to provide the most accurate results, Google routinely updates its algorithms. The number of these updates – big and small – varies each year. For example, in 2018, Google made 3200 updates in 2018. While minor updates don’t make a noticeable difference, – other than improving the algorithms – major updates result in visible SERP changes; like change in website rankings, variance in organic traffic for the period before, and after the update, etc.
Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, Pigeon, etc. are the major algorithm updates that Google released in the past.
What are the Google core updates?
The significant changes that Google makes to its algorithms every year are called core updates. According to Google, these core updates are designed to ensure that Google presents relevant and authoritative content to searchers. Unlike minor updates, the release of a core update is announced by Google’s Search Liason.
The few core updates announced by Google in the near past were in January 2020, September 2019, June 2019, and so on. The most recent announcement about the release of a core update was made on May 4.
These core updates usually take a week or two to roll out fully. Once out, they produce visible changes. New core updates can be boon or bane for your website, depending upon how it has impacted your SERP rankings.
How core updates affect the rankings of your web pages?
First of all, Google has made it clear that core updates do not target specific pages. These updates improve the overall search results. However, it has been noted that after core updates, several websites see a dip in their rankings. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they have done anything wrong or have violated any google webmaster guidelines. Any change in the ranking is due to the relevancy of the content against a keyword or query. If there was a webpage that had more authentic and quality content for a search query and was ranking lower before the core update, it is possible that after the update, it rises on the SERP.
What to do about it?
If you have witnessed that your website ranking has felled after a core update, then understand that it is not because your website has any serious SEO issues or Google has penalized you. The simple reason is that the algorithms found much better and more authentic results to rank higher for that keyword.
Google specifically prohibits making any drastic changes in your website if your rankings dropped as a result of an update. However, it does recommend an evaluation of your content to find out how it can be improved to make it more relevant and authentic.
- Analyze your website’s content
Google has provided a set of questions to analyze your content. They have broadly identified a few parameters that can help to improve the quality of your content.
- The original information in your content, and how well you have reported or analyzed it
- The comprehensive nature and the substantiality of your content
- The novel insights and interesting information in your content that is beyond obvious
- The sourcing on your information and the additional value it is providing to the topic
- The description of the topic in your headline and title and the summary provided
- The ability of your content to be republished, reproduced or referenced by someone else
Beyond these general parameters, there are some specific standards on which you should evaluate your content:
- The information should be provided in your content in a way that enhances its trustworthiness. The sourcing of information should be clear, and the author should be an expert in the concerned field.
- The site from which you’re quoting the information should be well-trusted or widely-recognized as an authority on the topic.
- Your content should be free from factual errors, spelling mistakes, and stylistic aberrations
- It must not appear sloppy or hastily produced.
- The content should not have excessive ads to distract readers
- The content should be displayed well when viewed on mobile devices.
- Your content should serve the genuine interests of visitors, instead of merely being an attempt to rank higher in search engines.
- Compare your content with your competition
If the ranking of your pages against any keyword has dropped and the rankings of your competitor’s pages have risen then, it is prudent to see how their content looks like. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they did everything right, and you got everything wrong. It only means that, according to Google, their content in more relevant, insightful, and is providing more value to the users. Thus, an analysis of your competitor’s website will give you finer details on how their content differs from yours.
We are not recommending to copy-paste their work. We’re just suggesting to keep both contents in the front of you and then analyze them. See how well they have described the topic on hand, or how enticing is their headline as compared to yours. Have they used more authentic backlinks to substantiate their arguments? How they have optimized their content for relevant keywords, and how well they have used tags? It will give you an idea about how you can make your content more relevant and Google-friendly.
- Follow E-A-T guidelines
According to Google’s Search Quality Guidelines, the quality of a page is determined by a number of factors. One of those factors is the E-A-T of the page. In the language of SEO, E-A-T stands for:
Having content that adheres to E-A-T guidelines is important for every website. It becomes even more important if you have a medical, legal, or financial site. Any of these websites with content that is low on E-A-T is considered low-quality.
E-A-T is one of the factors that Google’s Quality Raters see when analyzing the algorithm changes made by Google. The quality raters are the individuals who analyze the search results to see if they are providing the best available results. They only give feedback on these changes. They have no bearing on how content might rank.
Expertise, authority, and trustworthiness are “very important” quality factors for Google. The value of any content goes higher based on the higher degree of E-A-T in.
So, what exactly is an E-A-T content?
It is a content that is written by an individual who is an expert on the topic (Thus, the ‘E’). The creator of the content and the website itself is the authority on the topic (Thus, the ‘A’). The creator of the content, as well as the website, is trustworthy (Thus, the ‘T’).
So, in simple words, if your website is an authority on a topic and the content on your website is written by someone who is an expert in the field; commands significant authority over the subject under discussion, and is a trusted name in the field; the E-A-T of your content will be higher. Since Google’s quest is to show authoritative content, any content that is higher on E-A-T naturally ranks higher in the SERP rankings. So, keep E-A-T-ing.
- Ask experts in your field to assess the content on your website
One way a high E-A-T content differs from any other content is that an expert writes it, and not any content writer. If the author’s name on your webpage links Google’s crawlers to a website on which their credentials can be verified, it naturally makes your content and content creator trustworthy. So, if your website has a lot of content that is not written by authoritative figures, then you can at least try to get them to check your content. For example, if you’re a fashion website, then you can ask a reputed fashion designer to revise your content to improve its authenticity. When you get an expert to write content for your website, make sure to mention their authority. It can be done by adding a link to their LinkedIn profile or blog, or anything that can tell Google that these people are genuine experts on the topic.
How long does your ranking take to recover after being affected by core updates?
Google says that there is no fixed time for a website to recover its ranking after it being impacted by the core update. Even if you have made significant changes in your content, it might not improve the rankings. However, if you have improved the quality of your content, it might result in increased traffic on your website. Any changes to the rankings may not happen until the next core update is rolled out. The thing to remember is that excellent content would always rate above mediocre content. So, if you have improved your content, it might result in improved ranking when the next update is released. Thus, the only way to recover is by making your content more authentic.
If the ranking of your website has plummeted after the May 4 core algorithm update, and you’re unable to figure out the reason, you can reach out to us in the comments section. We will be more than happy to help.