Avit Virdee
Avit Virdee 22 April 2024

Navigating Google Core Updates: A Comprehensive Guide to Recovery

Staying up-to-date with search engine algorithms, especially Google's core updates, is of utmost importance as they can have a significant impact on your website's rankings and traffic.

Approximately 99,000 search queries are processed by Google every second, resulting in about 8.5 billion searches daily and roughly 2 trillion global searches annually!

It's unsurprising that marketers need to keep on top of how Google updates make imnfluence their businesses search ranking. 

According to Conductor "The general aim of any update is always to improve the relevance and quality of the search results, with most changes focusing on one or more particular features, such as an optimization to fight search engine spam or to combat duplicate content."

What is a Google Core Update?

Google core updates are broad changes to the search algorithm that aim to improve the overall relevance and quality of search results.

Unlike regular algorithm updates that target specific issues, core updates are comprehensive and may affect a wide range of websites.

These updates are usually rolled out several times a year, each with the goal of refining Google's understanding of user intent and content relevance.

While these updates aim to enhance the overall search experience, they can sometimes lead to fluctuations in website rankings.

The Latest Google Core Update March 2024

Over the years, Google’s core updates have become more complex, with a big focus on content. The most recent core algorithm update with took place in March 2024 targeted four key elements:

  • New spam policies – Google is constantly updating their spam list and have added 3 new spam policies which include scaled content abuse, expired domain abuse and site reputation abuse.
  • Scaled content abuse – this is when you are generating pages with low value content to manipulate search engines. This includes using AI generated pages which add no value to users.
  • Expired domain abuse – this is where an expired domain name is purchased to manipulate search engines by hosting content which is of low value.
  • Site reputation abuse – another way of manipulating search engines where third-party pages are published with no first-party involvement.

As we can see, this update is mainly targeted at the content of the website. Content has become a very big focus for Google, making it very important to review your web content if you have noticed a drop in rankings and organic traffic.

I Think My Website Has Been Hit by A Core Update. What Do I Do?

Google core updates normally happen every few months and if your website’s traffic has plummeted within the first 24 hours of the update, there’s a chance that your website has been impacted.

Identifying whether your website has been impacted by a Google Core Update requires a thorough analysis of various metrics and performance indicators.

However, it is important to take other major considerations into account which might have impacted your website. The other factors you might want to consider are:

  • Did you update/redesign or migrate your website during or right before a core update?
  • Have you implemented major changes to your website, such as delete a bunch of pages before the core update?
  • Have your competitors upped their game and made major improvements to their SEO strategy?

All these are questions to ask yourself when you notice a sudden drop in traffic.

If there haven’t been any major implementations on your website, then there’s a high chance that your site has been hit by a core update.

So… How Can I Identify Whether My Website Has Been Hit By A Core Update?

It’s important to stay on top of Google announcements and know exactly when the roll outs will be happening.

If there's a confirmed update around the time of your traffic changes, it's more likely to be the cause.

Here are steps you can take to determine if your website has been affected:

Traffic fluctuations:

Google Analytics: Examine your website's traffic patterns. A sudden drop or spike in organic traffic around the time of a known Google Core Update may indicate an impact.

Compare periods: Use Google Analytics to compare traffic before and after the suspected update. Look for noticeable changes in the number of sessions, page views, and user engagement.

Evaluate the performance of individual pages. Identify any pages that experienced a significant decrease in traffic or rankings. This could help pinpoint specific content that may be affected.

Google Search Console insights

Performance report: Check the Performance report in Google Search Console. Look for changes in clicks, impressions, click-through rates (CTRs), and average position. Identify any significant deviations from the norm.

Look at the clicks and impressions data on queries & pages and identify the exact date when the drop occurred.

Gathering all this specific data will help identify exactly which parts of the website have been impacted most.

Keyword rankings

Rank tracking tools: Utilise SEO tools to monitor the rankings of your target keywords. Look for fluctuations or drops in rankings for key pages. A widespread change in keyword positions could be a sign of a core update impact.

User behaviour metrics:

Engagement Rates and Dwell Time: Analyse user behaviour metrics like engagement and dwell time. A sudden decrease in engagement rates or a decrease in dwell time may suggest that users are not finding your content as relevant or engaging.

Tactics To Implement If You Have been Hit By A Core Update  

Whilst there is no specific timeline on how long it will take to recover from being hit by a core update, there are some best practice tactics you can implement. Recovering from a Google core update requires a multifaceted strategy that addresses content quality, E-E-A-T principles, and technical SEO. Here's a detailed breakdown:

Content creation and optimisation

Content creation plays such a big role in today’s world. As we know, Google has rolled out many updates around helpful content, with the latest core update focusing on AI generated content.

Focusing on the below areas and reviewing your content will help recovery if your site has been hit by an update:

  1. User-centric content: Prioritise creating content that genuinely serves the needs of your target audience. Understand user intent and develop content that aligns with their expectations.

    There have been several updates around Google’s Helpful Content and the guidelines focus on creating user-centric content where your target audience can resonate with.  
  2. Content quality audit: Conduct a thorough audit of your existing content. Identify and improve low-quality or outdated content. Focus on relevance, depth, and engagement.
  3. Diversify content formats: Experiment with various content formats such as video, infographics, and interactive elements to enhance user engagement and satisfaction.

E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness)

Expert content creation: Demonstrate expertise in your niche by creating content that showcases your knowledge. Consider involving industry experts, where possible, to contribute to your content.

Quality backlinks: Acquire high-quality, authoritative backlinks from reputable sources. This can enhance your site's perceived authority and trustworthiness.

Technical SEO

Mobile-friendly design: Ensure your website is mobile-friendly, as Google prioritises mobile-first indexing. A responsive design contributes to a positive user experience.

Page load speed: Optimise page loading speed by compressing images, leveraging browser caching, and utilising content delivery networks (CDNs).

Schema markup: Implement schema markup to provide additional context to search engines about your content. This can enhance the visibility of rich snippets in search results.

Recovery Timeline: Managing Expectations

The recovery timeline from a Google core update varies based on several factors, including the severity of the impact, the extent of changes made, and how quickly search engines reevaluate your site. While some sites may experience a relatively swift recovery, others might require more time.

It's crucial to monitor your site's performance regularly and make ongoing improvements based on feedback and data. Patience is key, and consistently applying best practices will contribute to long-term recovery.

Navigating the Evolving SEO Landscape

Recovering from a Google core update requires a holistic approach that combines content quality, E-E-A-T factors, and technical SEO. By proactively addressing issues and continually optimising your website, you can navigate core updates and position your site for long-term success in the ever-evolving landscape of search engine optimisation.

Avit Virdee is SEO Account Manager at The PHA Group

Please login or register to add a comment.

Contribute Now!

Loving our articles? Do you have an insightful post that you want to shout about? Well, you've come to the right place! We are always looking for fresh Doughnuts to be a part of our community.

Popular Articles

See all
How to Review a Website — A Guide for Beginners

How to Review a Website — A Guide for Beginners

A company website is crucial for any business's digital marketing strategy. To keep up with the changing trends and customer buying behaviors, it's important to review and make necessary changes regularly...

Digital Doughnut Contributor
Digital Doughnut Contributor 25 March 2024
Read more
The Impact of New Technology on Marketing

The Impact of New Technology on Marketing

Technology has impacted every part of our lives. From household chores to business disciplines and etiquette, there's a gadget or app for it. Marketing has changed dramatically over the years, but what is the...

Alex Lysak
Alex Lysak 3 April 2024
Read more
7 Reasons Why Social Media Marketing is Important For Your Business

7 Reasons Why Social Media Marketing is Important For Your Business

In the past two decades social media has become a crucial tool for marketers, enabling businesses to connect with potential customers. If your business has yet to embrace social media and you want to know why it is...

Sharron Nelson
Sharron Nelson 29 February 2024
Read more
10 Factors that Influence Customer Buying Behaviour Online

10 Factors that Influence Customer Buying Behaviour Online

Now is an era where customers take the center stags influencing business strategies across industries. No business can afford to overlook factors that could either break the customer experience or even pose a risk of...

Edward Roesch
Edward Roesch 4 June 2018
Read more
Mature Partnerships: The Revenue Stream You Need to Get to Know

Mature Partnerships: The Revenue Stream You Need to Get to Know

Discover how high-maturity partnership programmes are driving growth, with a Forrester survey showing companies with mature partnerships see up to 28% revenue increase. Insights reveal the importance of investing in...

Florian Gramshammer
Florian Gramshammer 19 March 2024
Read more