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How Google’s Back-to-back Core Updates May Effect Your Ranking

Posted on 06/11/2021 at 09:55 AM

Getting found on Google just got a bit easier... in a complicated way.

Did you Google something today? What about yesterday? Think you’ll Google something tomorrow? You probably will… and Google wants to be ready for whatever you may ask.

“Google now processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide.”

 

- Internet Live Stats

How often does Google update the algorithms?

As part of an ongoing quest to organize all of the internet’s information, Google uses advanced AI machine learning to determine search intent so that it can direct traffic to the best website the first time, every time. This typically means half a dozen changes to a few algorithms (collectively known as “The Algorithm” per day, most of which Google doesn’t announce publicly because you will never notice them and likely have no major lasting impact. 

Historically, every quarter or so, Google announces a big update. These are known as “Core Updates” and can have big impacts on what shows up on page 1 of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). 

What you need to know about the latest Core Algorithm Updates

Google says…
“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.”

Basically, (broadly speaking) these updates are not meant to “punish” websites for bad content, rather to promote and reward sites that go above and beyond to provide the best user experiences and add value to the internet. 

Illustration by Global Reach to promote a blog about landing on the first page of Google

If you notice an overnight drop or sustained spike in website traffic that is rather dramatic, a Google Core Update may be the reason. Keep in mind the following:

1. Changes aren't permanent

Google’s desire to provide the best experience means that if you update the content of your website, it will be reindexed. The fresher, more valuable content is what gets found. In other words, if you lost traffic and ranking, you may want to do some competitive analysis and see what other sites beating you organically have that you don’t.

Keep in mind, simply updating your content may (or may not) be enough. Google will always reward sites with the highest quality content so which sites rank on page 1 of a SERP will change over time.

2. Mobile-first matters and speed is critical

The May 2021 Core Update rolled out some interesting changes revolving around user experience. Since most internet traffic is accessed through a phone or other mobile device, Google’s algorithm was updated (officially) to reward websites that adapt to the screen size they are being displayed on.

Also as part of the May update, a new focus was put on load speed. How fast does it take for something meaningful to display when your webpage loads on mobile? If more than 3 seconds, your rank will likely suffer. 

Basically, May 2021’s updates focused on technical quality.

3. June and July 2021 - a focus on quality content

Remember how we said that Core Updates are typically rolled out once a quarter or so? 

2021 has been an interesting year for updates. The aforementioned May Update focused on mobile-first, fast loading, high-quality content. Google says that June and July will see a slow rollout of sweeping core updates, across the world and in all languages. These updates will put a very strong focus on back quality content based on machine learning and secure interactions.

Quality is not subjective 

For as long as content has been king, content creators have focused on SEO.Google has been clear about what it considers valuable content that will rank well: E-A-T. In fact, Google actually employs human quality testers to review various websites and make sure the ranking algorithms are aligned to search for and promote “quality websites.” These Quality Raters are trained to look for websites that demonstrate Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) and follow strict Search Quality Rater Guidelines.

Expertise

Does the page demonstrate your knowledge, experience, and expertise to add value to the general knowledge of the internet? It is not enough to quote smart people, you need to add value through expertise. If you want to know if your website is offering quality expertise, consider the following: 

  • Do you demonstrate your knowledge of the subject matter well enough to come across as an authority or expert? If not, what can you add?
  • Is the content free of easily verified factual errors and mistakes?
  • Does the content contain interesting information or insightful analysis that is unique to your perspective?
  • Does the headline, page title, and meta description provide a descriptive and helpful summary of the content?

Authoritativeness

Does the content demonstrate that the writer or company presenting the information is an authority on the subject? Do they cite their sources properly? A few more questions that help illustrate both Expertise and Authoritativeness include:

  • Are there any grammatical, punctuation, or spelling errors?
  • Is the content unique to this page or mass-produced and replicated across the internet?
  • Does the content provide value when compared to other pages about the subject?
  • Is the content authentically trying to serve the best interest of the reader and not just appease the Google bot with keyword stuffing?
  • Is this the kind of content that a reader would share with others or bookmark for later?
  • Is it evergreen? In other words, if any of the information became outdated, could you easily come back and update the content?

Trustworthiness

Search engines do not understand and read content like humans. Instead, they look for specific “signals” to understand how the content may be relevant to queries submitted by humans. Red flags start to fly when a website makes many unsubstantiated claims, doesn’t cite sources, and has little or no internal/external cross-links to related content. 

If you are unsure of the trustworthiness of your content, consider the following:

  • Does the content come across to the reader as trustworthy? In other words, have you linked back to your sources, provided background about the original author and what makes them an authority? Often this can be done simply by linking back to your source.
  • Could this content be referenced in a printed publication or on a trusted news website?

If you answered “no” to either of the above, it may be time for a rewrite, or at the very least, a few edits. When all else fails, remember...

Transparency = Trustworthiness 

search engine optimization

At the mercy of Google

In the end, the best thing that content creators, copywriters, businesses, and bloggers can do is try to put out the best quality content possible. The algorithm changes are there for a reason. Even the mighty Google doesn’t get it right the first time. Google takes feedback, tests, tests some more, and keeps working to improve the results of their ranking systems.

You may be wondering how long it takes for a site to recover after a core update. That depends on many factors, not the least of which is quality of content. If your content is chocked full of ads that distract from the message, has click-bait titles without real substance and value or lacks any kind of interactive features such as a video or images, you may want to make some serious changes. 

Google often says that the most deserving content will always rank highest.

We recommend you start by enjoying a free SEO Copywriting Masterclass so you can begin to create purposeful content that will provide value and grab the attention of the Google crawlers.

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