Google updates its search algorithms several times a year. These updates referred to as core updates will have an impact on the ranking of websites in Google Search. Google informs about the updates, but their impact and how to navigate them remain subjects of concern for many. Did you get hit?
Understanding Google's Core Updates
Core updates don't target specific websites or pages. These changes are broad and aimed at improving Google's ability to evaluate and rank content more effectively.
If you notice a drop in your website's ranking after an update, it is not being penalized directly nor is a sign of rule violation.
In Google's own words: "One way to think of how a core update operates is to imagine you made a list of the top 100 movies in 2021. A few years later in 2024, you refresh the list. It's going to naturally change. Some new and wonderful movies that never existed before will now be candidates for inclusion. You might also reassess some films and realize they deserved a higher place on the list than they had before."
Evaluating Your Content
Although a drop in rankings isn't a result of a technical problem, a violation, or a direct penalty, you are of course not happy with the drop in traffic and rank. Since Google's algorithms aim to reward quality content that is helpful and reliable, the best you can do is to review your content and content strategy.
Here's how to assess your content:
Audit your website: Identify which pages saw a drop in rankings and in what contexts.
Quality Assessment: Evaluate these pages against the guidelines for creating helpful and reliable content. Google provides a set of questions for self-assessment. These questions are also at the bottom of this blog.
Third-Party Evaluation: Seek an unbiased review of your content from people unaffiliated with your website.
Keep in mind, however, that making improvements to your site does not guarantee a recovery in rankings. If other websites offer better content, they will rank higher.
To conclude, Google's core updates aim to refine the search experience for their users by ranking quality, relevant content. A dip in rankings after an update is your nudge to reassess and improve your content.
Here are the questions that Google provides as a guideline for self-assessment:
- 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 the obvious?
- If the content draws on other sources, does it avoid simply copying or rewriting those sources, and instead provide substantial additional value and originality?
- Does the main heading or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?
- Does the main heading or page title avoid exaggerating or being shocking in nature?
- Is this the sort of page you'd want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
- Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia, or book?
- Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
- Does the content have any spelling or stylistic issues?
- Is 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?
- Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, and background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site's About page?
- If someone researched the site producing the content, would they come away with the impression that it is well-trusted or widely recognized as an authority on its topic?
- Is this content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?
- Does the content have any easily verified factual errors?
- Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?
- Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?
- Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
- After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they've learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
- Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they've had a satisfying experience?
- Is the content primarily made to attract visits from search engines?
- Are you producing lots of content on many different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?
- Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?
- Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
- Are you writing about things simply because they seem trending and not because you'd write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
- Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?
- Are you writing to a particular word count because you've heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (No, we don't.)
- Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you'd get search traffic?
- Does your content promise to answer a question that actually has no answer, such as suggesting there's a release date for a product, movie, or TV show when one isn't confirmed?
David Aleksandersen is Chief Revenue Officer at Amesto Growth. He has over 20 years of experience in sales, marketing, and management, both nationally and internationally. David has a Computer Science degree from Østfold University College and is studying Digital Transformation at Oslo Met. Before joining Amesto Growth, he worked as a business advisor at MarkedsPartner, marketing manager at Dataton AB, and as CEO at Smart Simulation AS.