However, by understanding the basics of Google’s recent SEO updates, you can ensure your website is well-positioned to rank well in search results.

Google is constantly updating its search algorithm to improve the quality of its search results, making it difficult for website owners to keep up with the latest trends and best practices. 

However, by understanding the basics of Google’s recent SEO updates, you can ensure your website is well-positioned to rank well in search results.

In this blog post, I’ll update you on these recent SEO updates and why they are important.

You’ll also see the most recent SEO updates from Google, how these updates impact SEO, and what you, as a website owner and SEO professional, can do to adapt to these updates.

Types of major updates made by Google

Google makes several major and minor updates yearly, and Google has been able to categorize its major updates into these different types:

  • Core Updates help rank websites that are more relevant and helpful to users higher in search results. Google’s core updates are released more frequently and usually reflect some changes in ranking signals.
  • Spam Updates help remove spammy websites from search results. These updates are usually more targeted at specific spammy techniques that are becoming popular, like when link stuffing was rampant, and Google had to release a spam update to address it.
  • Helpful Content Updates are used to rank websites that produce high-quality content that is helpful to users higher in search results.
  • Product Reviews Update can help to rank product reviews that are more helpful and informative higher in search results.
  • Page Experience Update ranks websites with a good user experience, such as fast loading times and mobile-friendly design, higher in search results.

In addition to these major updates, Google makes many smaller changes to its search algorithm throughout the year. 

These minor changes are typically not announced publicly, but they can still significantly impact website rankings.

Why are SEO updates being made constantly?

As a blogger or SEO expert, these changes can become burdensome to the extent of asking what the purpose is.

  • To improve the quality of search results

Google aims to provide users with the most relevant and high-quality search results. By updating its algorithm, Google can improve the accuracy of its search results and make it easier for users to find the information they seek.

  • To keep up with the changing web

The web constantly evolves, and new websites and content are always created. Hence, Google updates its algorithm to ensure it can index and rank this new content effectively.

  • To combat spam

Spammers are constantly developing new techniques to manipulate Google’s search results. Google needs to update its algorithm to stay one step ahead of spammers and ensure that spammy websites do not pollute their results.

  • To improve the user experience

Google wants to provide users with the best possible search experience. By updating its algorithm, Google can improve the relevance of its search results, make it easier for users to find the information they seek, and reduce the time it takes for pages to load.

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Google’s recent SEO updates

November 2023 Core Update

This last core update is the fourth core update in 2023, and it closely follows the release in November, which is a rare thing for Google to do. 

The Google November 2023 Core Update is notable for its speed and volatility, with some websites seeing significant ranking fluctuations in a short period.

Like the other core updates, the November update aimed to improve the relevance and quality of search results. 

According to Google, the update is an improvement to a different core system than the October update, but the overall guidance for core updates remained the same.

Websites focusing on creating high-quality content were not negatively affected by the update. However, some websites that the October update had positively impacted experienced some negative effects.

If your website experienced some negative effects from the update, you should focus on improving its content and overall quality.

Glasses, reflection code and business man with software engineer information technology and coding research for web and html analytics. Hacker IT developer geek reading data for online system update
Photo by Kobus Louw on iStock

October 2023 Core Update

The October 2023 Core Update is the third core update of the year, following the March and August Core Updates. Google announced the update on October 5 and completed it within 13 days and 23 hours.

The October 2023 Core Update is expected to impact website rankings significantly, so SEO professionals must be aware of it and make any necessary website changes.

Google has not released any specific information about the October 2023 Core Update, but based on previous core updates, we can expect it to focus on the following areas:

  • Content quality: 

Google will continue prioritizing websites with high-quality, informative, and relevant content for users’ search queries.

  • User experience: 

Google will also prioritize websites that provide a good user experience, including page loading speed, mobile-friendliness, and security.

  • Relevance: 

Google will keep prioritizing websites that are relevant to users’ search queries. This means websites should focus on creating content targeted to their specific audience that addresses their users’ needs.

Google has only disclosed a little. However, some general trends have been observed. 

For example, websites that provide high-quality, informative content and a good user experience seem to have performed well in the update.

SEO professionals can focus on the following to improve their website’s performance in the October 2023 Core Update and future core updates:

  • Create high-quality, informative content that is relevant to users’ search queries.
  • Improve the user experience on their website, including factors like page loading speed, mobile-friendliness, and security.
  • Avoid spammy practices, such as keyword stuffing and link-building schemes.
  • Review your previous content and re-optimize.

October 2023 Spam Update

The October 2023 Spam Update was a significant algorithm update designed to target and remove spammy websites from search results. Google announced this update on October 4, 2023, and began rolling it out on the same day. Google completed the rollout on October 10, 2023.

The October 2023 Spam Update targeted a wide range of spammy tactics, including:

  • Cloaking: Cloaking is a technique where a website presents different content to users and search engines. For example, a website might cloak low-quality content to search engines to rank higher in search results.
  • Hacked content: Hacked content is content that has been added to a website without the owner’s knowledge or consent. Hackers often add spammy links or content to hacked websites to redirect users to malicious websites or promote their products or services.
  • Auto-generated content: Auto-generated content is content created using software algorithms. Auto-generated content is often low-quality and uninformative and often used to spam search results.
  • Scraped content: Scraped content is content that has been copied from another website without permission. Scraped content is often low-quality and unoriginal and often used to spam search results.

The October 2023 Spam Update also targeted spammy behavior in specific languages, including Turkish, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Hindi, Chinese, and others.

The October 2023 Spam Update had a significant impact on many websites. Some websites using spammy tactics saw their rankings drop significantly due to the update. 

Other websites that followed Google’s guidelines saw their rankings improve.

SEO professionals should be aware of the October 2023 Spam Update and should take steps to avoid using spammy tactics on their websites. 

If your website was affected by the spam update, Google recommends reviewing its spam policies to ensure you have not violated any.

September 2023 Helpful Content Update

The September 2023 Helpful Content Update is a significant algorithm update from Google designed to reward websites with high-quality content that is helpful and informative to users. 

This update aims to make it easier for users to find the information they seek by promoting websites that are providing value to users rather than websites that are simply trying to rank well in search results.

Google has identified several factors it considers when determining whether or not a website is producing helpful content; these factors include:

  • The quality and expertise of the content: Google wants to see content written by experts based on factual information.
  • The originality of the content: Google wants unique content, not a copy of what other websites have.
  • The usefulness of the content: Google wants to see helpful and informative content that will benefit users.
  • The purpose of the content: Google also wants content created to help users rather than content created primarily for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.

Websites that produce helpful content are more likely to rank higher in search results. Conversely, websites that are found to be creating unhelpful content may see their rankings decline.

August 2023 Broad Core Update

The August 2023 Broad Core Update was a major algorithm update from Google that impacted websites across all niches. It was the second broad core update of the year, following the May 2023 Core Update.

Google did not release specific details about what changed in the August 2023 Broad Core Update, but SEO professionals reported seeing a wide range of ranking movements. Some websites saw their rankings improve significantly, while others saw their rankings decline.

The August 2023 Broad Core Update has been focused on improving the quality of search results for medical and health-related queries. However, it is important to note that this update potentially impacted all websites.

April 2023 Reviews Update

The April 2023 Reviews Update was a significant update to Google’s algorithm focused on improving the quality of reviews in search results. 

The update affected websites that publish reviews of products, services, destinations, media, and other topics.

Google also announced that the April 2023 Reviews Update would incorporate the extra “E” into the acronym for its quality guidelines, which is now “E-E-A-T” (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness). 

This means Google now considers the reviewer’s experience when evaluating the quality of a review.

Google released that this update utilizes some signals to evaluate and determine if what is being reviewed has been handled, tested, and used.

These signals include:

  • Visual evidence: This signal includes images or videos that show the reviewer is using the product.
  • Audio: This signal might not apply to all products besides those requiring audio as a sign of authenticity.
  • Links to evidence of experience: This implies having links to prove an experience with the product if needed.
  • Quantitative measurements: This concerns the performance measurement of what is being reviewed.

The April 2023 Reviews Update significantly impacted many websites that publish reviews.

March 2023 Core Update

The March 2023 Core Update was a major algorithm update from Google released on March 15, 2023. It was the first broad core update of the year and the first one in over six months.

Core updates are Google’s largest and most comprehensive algorithm updates. They are designed to improve the overall quality of search results by rewarding websites that are high-quality, informative, and relevant to users’ search queries.

The March 2023 Core Update was reported to be one of the more volatile core updates in recent memory, with many websites experiencing significant ranking fluctuations. 

However, as with all core updates, the overall goal of the update was to improve the quality of search results and provide a better user experience.

  • Google is still prioritizing E-E-A-T. 

E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. Google has long stated that E-E-A-T is a critical factor in its ranking algorithm, and the March 2023 Core Update further emphasized its importance.

  • High-quality content is still king. 

Google will always prioritize websites with high-quality content. 

  • User experience matters. 

Google wants to provide users with the best possible search experience. This includes factors such as page loading speed, mobile-friendliness, and ease of use. The update rewarded websites that provided a good user experience.

  • Spammy websites were penalized. 

Google is constantly working to improve its ability to detect and penalize spammy websites. Websites that engaged in spammy practices were penalized by the update.

Overall, the March 2023 Core Update was a significant algorithm update that impacted many websites.

February 2023 Product Reviews Update

The February 2023 Product Reviews Update was a broad core update to Google’s search algorithm specifically focused on improving the quality of product reviews in search results. 

The update was released on February 21, 2023, and took approximately two weeks to roll out fully.

Google’s definition of a high-quality product review includes the following factors:

  • Expertise: The reviewer should have expertise in the product or the category they are reviewing.
  • Trustworthiness: The reviewer should be trustworthy and unbiased.
  • Completeness: The review should be comprehensive and informative.
  • Originality: The review should be original and not copied.

Google also updated its guidance on product reviews. The guidance now has new ranking signals that will be used to evaluate product review content. 

These ranking signals include:

  • The reviewer’s expertise: 

Google will consider the reviewer’s expertise in the product or category of products that they are reviewing. This can be determined by factors such as the reviewer’s education, experience, and reputation.

  • Trustworthiness:

Google will consider the trustworthiness of the reviewer and the review itself. Factors such as the reviewer’s disclosure of any conflicts of interest, the accuracy of the information in the review, and the reviewer’s overall reputation play a huge role.

  • The quality of the content: 

Google will consider the quality of the review content itself determined by factors like the completeness of the review, the originality of the content, and the helpfulness of the review to users.

However, you should consider an observation made by Mordy Oberstein in an article where he noticed a pattern in some individual performances on Google’s SERP after this update was rolled out.

According to him, Google prioritized reviews where the reviewer had experienced the product first-hand rather than those who wrote their reviews in generic tones.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Google’s recent SEO updates have focused on improving search results’ quality and rewarding websites that provide helpful content to users. 

If you want your website to stay competitive in search, follow these updates closely and focus on creating high-quality content relevant to your target audience.

In addition, follow industry experts to ensure you’re always aware of the latest changes to Google’s SEO algorithms and how they may impact your website.

If you want to stay up-to-date on the latest Google SEO updates, I recommend following the Google Search Central blog and the Google Search Central Twitter account.

How do you currently keep up-to-date with industry news and SEO updates?

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