Google Core Updates 101: What, Why, and How?

Confused about Google core updates?

Let’s address that.

Google is known for releasing one or more update every day.

The intent is to improve the search results on the
most popular search engine in the world.

While, at times, you might notice an update….

There are occasions where the changes are more subtle in nature.

Google, however, likes to keep users
informed of noticeable updates.

As in the case of the Speed Update.

Google blogged about it in January last year,
before rolling out the update in July 2019.

What are Google core updates?

Simply put, these are broad changes to
its search algorithms and systems.

With these updates, Google wants to offer relevant and
authoritative content to searchers like you and me.

Now, it is quite obvious that some websites may see
positive changes because of the core updates.

And others take a hit (drops in rankings).

For instance, the June 2019 core update had some of the
top media companies in the UK lose substantial ranks overnight.

Content Diagnosis

It’s not abnormal to get frustrated when a core update
negatively affects certain web pages.

However, this does not necessarily imply that those pages
have violated Google webmaster guidelines.

A core update does not target specific pages or websites.

In fact, at times, a core update can reward a
previously under-performing set of pages.

Google gives an awesome analogy for this.

Think of the top 100 list of movies
you created a few years back.

Today, wouldn’t that list change?

After all, new and more awesome movies
must have released since then.

Now, the list you created will see a change.

Does it mean all your choices are bad?

Not at all.

New and better things will eventually replace
some of the older stuff.

Content Strategy

If you have taken a hit after a core update,
you need to evaluate your content.

Are you offering the best content?

Now that’s a simple question.

But do all of us really think that way?

Google suggests four categories of questions to assess your content:

  • Content and quality questions
  • Expertise questions
  • Presentation and production questions
  • Comparative questions

Let’s look into these, one at a time.

Content and Quality

Does your content offer original information,
reporting, research or analysis?

Are you confident that it offers a substantial, complete or
comprehensive description of the core topic?

Does your content provide insightful analysis or
interesting information that is beyond obvious?

If you have used other sources,
did you simply copy or rewrite?

Or did you provide substantial additional value and originality?

Does your headline/page title describe the content summary?

Would you bookmark your own web page?

Would a printed magazine, encyclopedia or
book reference your content?


Would someone trust the information given on your page?

This could include sourcing and
author background and expertise.

Would a reader take your site as well-trusted or
widely-recognized on the suggested topic?

Would you trust the web content if it was
about your own money and life?


Does your web content focus on spelling and stylistic issues?

Does the content demonstrate research,
or was it produced just for the sake of it?

Are there too many ads interfering with
user experience on the page?

And finally, does it render well on mobile devices?


Where does your content stand in terms of value when
compared with other pages in search results?

Did you blog for the purpose of ranking well, or did you genuinely
focus on addressing the needs of the site visitors?

It is natural that we might not like
negative feedback about our content.

It’s human. Don’t worry.

But you can always have someone else provide an
honest assessment of your web content.

Ideally, someone who is not affiliated to your site.

That way, there will be less bias.

Recovering from Google core updates

How long does it take to recover from an update?

Since broad core updates happen every few months, you can expect to recover when the next broad core update is released.

Google does not announce all of the smaller core updates.

However, these can help recover content.

Google says that there is no guarantee of recovery though.

Search Engines vs Human

The way you and I consume content is
way different from the way a search engine views it.

Google looks for signals about content, and see how those
correlate with how humans assess relevance.

For example, the way pages link to each other is a valid signal.

Google does not disclose all the signals.

How have the recent Google core updates affected your site?

Leave your comments below.

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