Change is inevitable. The only constant thing in this world is change. These are common phrases, but very few people often take them seriously. Nonetheless, Google, the world’s number one search engine, takes the phrases seriously.
Perhaps you’ve heard of Google updates or algorithm updates. How Google calculates these updates, nobody knows. However, SEO experts and webpreneurs across the world know how these updates affect them, their importance, and of course, what they need to do when these updates take effect.
After several months of extensive research, we have come up with a detailed guide on this subject, its history, and why it matters today. In this article, you will not only learn about the various Google updates that have taken place in the past, but also why you should be prepared for future updates.
Without further ado, let’s face the giant in the room. We start by answering the big question.
What are Google Algorithms?
These refer to a series of complex systems Google uses to retrieve data from the search index to deliver results of search queries. Thanks to Google’s robust systems, the reader can find answers to his/her queries instantly.
To deliver web pages that rank on certain queries, the search engine uses numerous ranking factors as well as a combination of algorithms. These results are often of topical relevance determined by the search engine results pages, often referred to as SERPs.
In the past, Google used to make a few updates a year. Today, Google makes hundreds, even thousands of updates each year. The funny part about most of these Google updates is that they are so slight that oftentimes, they go unnoticed.
However, that does not mean that all updates are hidden from the public. In some incidents, significant impact is felt immediately Google makes major updates. Google may decide to make announcements before making major updates.
Without any particular order, here are some of the major Google updates that have brought substantive changes in the SERPs:
⇢ Page Layout Algorithm
⇢ Exact Match Domain (EMD)
⇢ Intrusive Interstitials Update (IIU)
Now that you have an overview of how Google does its things, let’s continue to answer other important questions.
What is a Google Algorithm Update?
A Google Algorithm Update is a change or any change Google makes in its algorithms. The change or update is aimed at improving the general user experience, making it better than it was before the update.
One of the important things a Google algorithm update ensures is to provide the reader with the latest and most relevant search results that answer the user’s queries.
Webpreneurs across the world wish they knew when Google makes these changes. However, the world’s giant search engine decides to keep this information within its wings until the update is made (although at times it tells their clients in advance).
The other thing to know about Google updates is at times, the update can be minor yet important. With such updates, Google does not need to announce them before it rolls them out. On the other hand, there are major updates, which Google may decide to make announcements before the changes are effected.
Updates tend to address many things from the quality of content, new dimension, which Google feels content should be written, or just a site’s mobile-friendliness. Of course, Google algorithm updates are not limited to those three things but more.
While the subject of Google algorithm updates is broad, it is prudent to keep one important thing in mind. Google makes changes almost all the time. However, when it comes to core updates, Google does them several times a year.
As already mentioned, Google reserves the right to make changes within its system to improve user experience. The changes can be minor while others can be major or core. But you may still want to know the difference between the two.
What is a Google Core Update?
Simply put, Google Core Update refers to a significant change made within the ranking system. When done, the update affects a large number of sites especially indexed pages. On average, Google makes core updates once in a span of two to three months.
Experienced webpreneurs know about this and are always ready for a major Google update at least every 3 months a year. One of the major reasons for core updates is to shuffle search rankings is to ensure the user gets the latest, most relevant, and authentic search results.
While all core updates have the same aim – to provide the user with the best user experience while giving relevant and authentic answers, each core update tweaks the formula differently. In most cases, Google Core Updates ‘shock the mighty’ while they elevate the ‘little one’.
Web pages that ranked for a long time for their target keywords or key phrases may find themselves ranking low after the core update. On the other hand, web pages that for a long time ranked low on their main keywords may resurface and start to rank for those keywords after the core update.
Some of Google’s core updates that brought substantive changes in the past include:
⇢ Florida Update — November 16, 2003
⇢ Jagger Update — September, and October 2005
⇢ Big Daddy Update — March 29, 2006
⇢ Vince Update — January 18, 2009
⇢ May Day Update — April 28, 2010
⇢ Caffeine Update — June 8, 2010
⇢ Panda Update — August 12, 2011
⇢ Penguin Update — April 24, 2012
⇢ Hummingbird Update — September 26, 2013
⇢ Mobilegeddon Update — April 21, 2015
⇢ RankBrain Update — October 26, 2015
⇢ Medic Update — August 1, 2018
⇢ BERT Update — October 22, 2019
⇢ Google January 2020 Core Update — January 13, 2020
⇢ Google May 2020 Core Update — May 4, 2020
⇢ Google December 2020 Core Update — December 3, 2020
⇢ Product Review Update – April 2021
⇢ MUM Update – May 2021
⇢ Summer Broad Update – June, July 2021
⇢ Link Spam Update – July 2021
⇢ Page Experience Update – June
⇢ November Core Update – November 2021
Why does Google Update its Algorithm?
Before we answer that question, it is important to know that since 1998 Google has become the most used search engine. One of the reasons why Google is the number one search engine is its accuracy. Yes, of all the search engines you know, Google tends to give accurate results.
Apart from giving accurate search results, Google tends to understand the user’s intent. As such, apart from providing accurate and on-point answers (usually on snippets), Google provides the user with additional information that it deems important.
Google chooses these search results using a set of complex computer programs that understand what the searcher needs. In the end, the rather complex computer program provides the searcher with the right answers.
You can, therefore, understand that to provide the searcher with the most accurate and relevant answer, Google needs to conduct regular updates. In the past, Google algorithm updates have been able to among other things:
⇢ Understand the searcher’s intent
⇢ Understand human language
⇢ Provide localized and more personalized results
⇢ Judge the quality and authenticity of content available on various webpages
⇢ Provides similar search suggestions, something that benefits the user
⇢ Gives additional features
How Does an Algorithm Update Impact SEO?
When they take effect, Google updates web pages. A few changes last longer while others don’t. While speaking of the impact Google algorithm updates have on websites, an SEO expert observed that Google updates will always be harsh and soft on websites on equal measure.
“Google will continue to refine its algorithm. The updates will always be good to some webmasters while they will be bitter to others. Still, some sites belonging to webmasters that have been hit hard by the updates will resurface and start to rank,” said the SEO expert.
The same SEO expert went on to say that, not all Google updates affect organic metrics adversely. However, he observed that certain Google updates may affect how a site performs, and how it remains within a SERP. The latter will have an impact on many performance facets including traffic and ranking.
Here is the thing: before a major update, your site could be ranking for certain search queries. However, depending on the type of Google algorithm update and the complex formula, your site will not be ranking for those search queries for several days following the update.
Simply, different updates can bring different changes to your site’s overall performance as well as affect SEO.
It is also good to mention that over the years, Google seems to retain one main pattern – rewarding sites that have solid SEO practices. In other words, if you do not want to find yourself on the wrong side after a major Google update, continue to employ proper and genuine SEO practices.
With that in mind, here are two major signs that Google core updates affected your site:
1. Decreased Rankings
The search engine results pages (SERPs) are often the first thing to be hit. When you check on your site’s rankings (the keywords that have been ranking), you are likely to know whether the update affected your site negatively or positively.
Of course, if there is a decrease or even a disappearance of some of your ranking keywords, then you know that the update affected you negatively. Before you conclude how the update affected your website, you might want to monitor your ranking for some time.
To check your rankings, you may want to use some of the basic or premium tools in the market, such as:
⇢ Google Search Console (GSC)
⇢ Google Search
When checking on your rankings, do not look for a few isolated keywords. Do a wholesome check. Look for those keywords that were ranking before the major update and others that may have different intents.
Apart from main or targeted keywords, also check for related, secondary, or semantic keywords. If you do, chances are you will have a comprehensive analysis of how the recent update affected your site.
2. Decreased Traffic
In most cases, major Google updates affect website traffic. This is due to shaken other webpage elements such as ranking keywords and search queries. Of all the traffic, organic traffic is the one affected most.
It is also good to note that if some of your keywords were ranking, you are bound to lose some amount of traffic (the first 5 positions often claim approximately 68% of all webpage clicks). Google Analytics can help you check your site traffic.
To get the most out of Google Analytics, you may want to compare your site traffic year after year, month after month, and week after week. Besides, you may want to look at individual page traffic.
Other performance metrics such as bounce rate may also help in you getting the best picture of your site before and after the update. Afterward, you may now want to take your time to improve your site by omitting or adding some things as you may deem fit.
Alternatively, you may want to hire an SEO expert who will conduct an in-depth SEO audit on your site.
The Most Important Google Algorithm Updates of All Time
Earlier, we talked of a long list of Google algorithm updates that have taken place since 2003. These updates have brought substantive change on how webmasters need to do their work. Those that have accepted the changes have reaped big with those ignoring finding themselves on the wrong side of Google.
But you ask, which is the biggest Google update of all times? Well, the answer is each Google update is different and seeks to change or improve specific parts within the search engine. Aware of this, let’s now delve into each of the Google core updates.
This time, we are not going to look at all the major updates that took place in the past. Rather, we’ll start with the August 12, 2011 core update.
Panda Update – August 12, 2011
On this day, Google made a huge announcement that it was going to roll out Panda Core Update worldwide. This update was significant such that it affected almost 9% of all search queries.
By the time Google was making the announcement, three languages were not affected namely Korean, Japanese, and Chinese. However, sites using these languages were also affected later.
Penguin Update — April 24, 2012
Also referred to as Webspam Algorithm Update was a major blog to some SEO experts who praised black-hat SEO. Sites that had ranked for many months even years thanks to black-hat SEO techniques like keyword stuffing and link schemes suffered a great deal.
To many people, this update was one of the fairest of all time. It penalized sites whose ranking depended on spammy links that were oftentimes bought in the ‘black market’. The good thing about this core update is it targeted those sites that used unscrupulous means to rank.
Therefore, it was reasonable that webmasters who used genuine means to get to the top were not affected. Generally, Penguin Update affected 3.1% of all Google searches.
Hummingbird Update — September 26, 2013
Like other previous Google algorithm updates, Hummingbird, which took effect on September 26, 2013, was aimed at providing the searchers with the best user experience. The name hummingbird was fitting because according to Google, the bird is fast.
Upon the effect of the core update, users would get fast search results that captured their intent. Those who were present during and after the update can agree that the Hummingbird was one of the biggest major updates since 2010’s Caffeine.
The goal of September 26, 2013, Google update was to offer fast answers to longer search queries. Before the update, it was difficult for the search engine to respond to longer and rather complex search queries.
At times, searchers were left wandering on the internet for several minutes before they get what seemed to be close to what they wanted. It was especially difficult for searchers who sort to get answers to complex subjects and long queries.
It should be remembered that in the fledgling days of using the internet, people could type one word. Yes, they would search for one word and they would get the answers to what they were looking for right away.
As many people began to use the internet, this changed. Now, people had to key in two or three words to get specific answered. Aware of how it was difficult it was for those with longer queries or complex subjects that needed answers, Google was forced to bring in Hummingbird Update.
For instance, before the year 2000, people would just type, ‘mechanic’ ‘barber’ or even ‘plumber’. However, thirteen years later, it was necessary to include more specific information. You’d probably add, ‘plumber for Los Angeles home’ or ‘electric scooter mechanic near Denver’.
According to Amit Singhal, the senior VP of search at Google, who made the announcement, said that the update would affect 90% of searches worldwide via Google.
In a separate blog post, Singhal said that the update would completely change how things used to be done before the update took effect.
“Remember how it was like to search for 1998? You’d sit with your computer and type in some of your keyword(s) and within a few seconds, you’d see over 10 blue links pointing to websites that contain those keywords. Things are different now. Millions have come online and there are billions of websites. Now, you need to get more specific,” Singhal said.
Mobilegeddon Update — April 21, 2015
On this material date, Google rolled out what it called the biggest Google update that sort to help searchers using mobile devices benefit. After the update, mobile users across the world quickly labeled the move mobilepocalyse, mobocalypse, and monocalypse among other names.
However, even as people continued to create their names, the name that remained among many is Mobilegeddon, a name that remains in the history of Google’s updates to date. While they kept it brief, Google, which posted the update on the Webmaster Central Blog, praised the move.
To show the huge difference between what was then considered mobile-friendliness and the newer version of mobile-friendliness thanks to the update, the post had two pictures. The pictures had a search query.
It was evident that after the Mobilegeddon Update, people who use mobile devices would soon get proper search results that are presented in the best way possible. Two months before April 21, 2015, Mobilegeddon Update, Google had announced that in the future, a site’s mobile-friendliness would be used as one of the ranking factors.
On April 21, 2015, the day Mobilegeddon Update was announced, Google mentioned the three main areas the update would affect. The three are:
⇢ Search rankings and results on mobile devices.
⇢ Search results in all global languages.
⇢ It’ll affect individual pages instead of the entire website.
RankBrain Update — October 26, 2015
RankBrain Update that took effect soon after it was announced on October 25, 2015, did just what the name means. According to Google, this was perhaps the first time the search engine introduced the use of artificial intelligence (AI) into its algorithm.
The addition and introduction of machine learning made it easy for in-house experts to determine which websites deserve praise and which ones deserve a demotion. Thanks to this update, it was now easy and fast for Google’s robust machines to predict and even determine what the user’s intent is.
Upon the integration of AI technology into Google’s software, it was now easy for the search engine to guess what the user is looking for. In the past, Google’s guesses were clearly out of topic.
However, after the update, things started to become simpler. Whenever the user would type a query on the Google search bar, the correct answer would then follow upon finishing typing the query.
Medic Update — August 1, 2018
This is yet another update, which the giant search engine called Broad Core Algorithm Update or simply Medic Update. Although called this broad or core, the full impact on how the update could work started to be witnessed a week after it was rolled out.
As the word suggests, indeed this August 1, 2018 core update came to affect sites built on medical or health niches. Besides, the core update also affected Your Money, Your Life (YMYL) sites.
Over time, many other sites in different niches were also affected thus it would be improper to say that Medic Update touched on the health niche alone. In a broader view, through the update, Google passed a very clear message that no matter the niche, as a webmaster, you should always focus on the creation of quality and authentic content.
Besides, through the update, Google emphasized that sites with remarkable user experience would always be given priority.
BERT Update — October 22, 2019
There is some controversy surrounding this core update. Some say it was rolled out on October 22, 2019, while others believe it was released on October 25, 2019. However, it is believed that Google had rolled out BERT Update at an earlier date, possibly October 22, 2019, but made a full announcement on the same 3 days later.
Whichever the date, Google rolled out BERT Update in October 2019. BERT is an acronym that stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. According to Google, this is neutral network-based technology for the pre-training of natural language processing.
From that alone, it might be difficult to understand what the update is all about. However, there is no reason for panic. The terminologies are just a batch of technical jargon, which needs to be broken down.
Like most recent updates, BERT was intended to analyze the user’s search intent. In other words, rather than Google looking at every word the searcher types, the machines would try to understand the entire phrase.
That means any slight modification such as an additional letter or word would alter the whole process.
After the update, it was evident that Google was no longer going to focus on just primary keywords or focused key phrases. Rather, the search engine started to award sites that focused on topical or wholesome content.
As usual, sites that did not maintain proper writing skills saw their ranking and traffic drop significantly after the BERT update. Besides, those whose webmasters focused on just primary keywords or a few key phrases often found themselves on the wrong side.
Google January 2020 Core Update — January 13, 2020
In the morning of January 13, 2020, Google announced via a tweet that it was about to roll out what it called the January 2020 Core Update. True to their words, Google unleashed the bombshell later that day.
It appeared that this update was aimed at redefining how niche websites, especially those that thrived on affiliate commissions. Therefore, sites that did not disclose vividly that by clicking on certain links, the webmasters could earn a commission, were penalized.
In addition, thin, spammy, or even poorly-arranged content was hit hard. On what looked like a comprehensive overhaul of how things should be, Google also directed its attention to pet health sites.
To put things straight, Google said on its central blog that it is never against affiliate links. In fact, according to QRG, some sites survive via affiliate links. “We realize that without monetization and advertising, some of the web pages that are doing great today could be in existence,” Google observed.
The announcement further stated that it costs a lot of money to start and maintain a website. In Google’s view, there’s no harm in webmasters looking for ways to get the extra cash that would help them remain afloat.
In fact, in part, Google’s announcement read, “Sometimes, ads contribute to good user experience.” However, Google went on to say that product reviews whose primary intent is getting users to click on them so that web owners earn affiliate commissions are considered deceiving.
After the update, it was evident that Google wanted webmasters to be open and honest. One way they would do that is by placing a line on top of the page that some clickable links that direct people to make purchases would enable site owners to earn commissions.
Alternatively, labeling some ads ‘sponsored’ or placing banners such as ‘Buy from Amazon’ or Check price on eBay or any other store would tell the user that the product is not given free. That isn’t deceiving.
Google May 2020 Core Update — May 4, 2020
With core updates known to bring substantive changes to how people search on the web, there is no doubt that May 4, 2020, brought some sanity on the web. As usual, webmasters saw drops or rises in traffic and ranking.
Some lost terribly while others won big. While Google did not come out clearly on the intent of the update and whom it’d affect, it is clear that the update had something to do with the Covid-19 pandemic. Of course, not that Google wanted to penalize sites during these turbulent times but to balance things.
Generally, Google awarded sites that had the best user experience. In one of its blogs, following the roll-out of the May 4, 2020 update, Google mentioned something to do with Core Web Vitals.
In other words, it was about the time sites with the right speed, UX, and responsiveness benefited. In awarding these sites, Google looked across all devices (desktop, mobile, and even tablet).
The update also had something to do with confirming the importance as well the accuracy of E-A-T. Yes, Google was keen to observe that like journals or books, websites must be written by experts, have a high sense of authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
There was also the mention of SERPs especially those with multiple search intents. On this, Google outlined that marketers should strive to produce high-quality content, which is easy to read, well-structured, delivers answers that are raised in the title, and should be consistent.
Lastly, on May 4, 2020, Google Update talked about nofollow links. In the past, Google Bot did not consider nofollow links. But after the update, any link that was considered nofollow had significance and would be used as one of the many ranking factors.
Google December 2020 Core Update — December 3, 2020
A day after the December 3, 2020 core update, several sites built around health, government, law, and real estate niches started to feel the hit. Those in finance and travel were also affected especially on desktops.
Other niches that saw a shake in their ranking and traffic include education, pets, jobs, and animals in general. The interesting thing about this core update is that the major target was big sites. As you can imagine, governments, NGOs, education centers, and other big industries such as jobs and real estate were adversely affected.
According to one observer, 1 in 3 websites that started to experience drops in traffic were those sites with more than 10 million visitors every month. From that alone, it’s easy to see that Google wanted to divide traffic.
Among the winners, there were telecommunications sites, industrial, fitness, beauty, and business websites. Therefore, from the business point of view, the December 3, 2020 update was aimed at putting things in equilibrium.
With the update, Google sort to make things equal. Nonetheless, good content remains the biggest asset. Bigger sites that ensured they had quality content suffered the shock but not as much as those, that had poorly-written content.
Giant websites may have suffered a blow, but those with quality content reenergized shortly afterward. Small sites that had put all things in play such as quality and structured content that answers users’ intent in an easy-to-read manner were awarded.
Product Review Update – April 2021
With the April 2021 Product Review Update, Google was able to cause a stir among website owners especially those with websites that depend on product reviews to earn a living.
According to Google, many websites were offering shallow or low-quality product reviews.The update aimed to make webmasters aware of the mistakes they have been doing for decades.
As such, Google was clear on what it called best practice. For instance, the giant search engine recommended two main things, which it called ‘best practices’, a similar update expected eight months later.
Webmasters to add more multimedia to their product reviews. These would support the expert opinion given on the products as well as showcase the site’s authenticity.
Provide links to more than one seller. According to Google, this best practice will give readers a chance to choose the seller with the best offer.
The Impact on Thin Content
Although the update was a bitter pill for webmasters to swallow, it promoted good work. A few weeks after the update, thin content that had been ranking for months even years was pushed back. Ranking priority was given to rich product reviews that matched Google’s standards.
MUM Update – May 2021
MUM, which stands for Multitask Unified Model, was an update Google announced on May 2021 but took nearly a month to be effective. This update aimed to help users find answers to their ‘complicated’ queries.
During the announcement, Google said that for months, the search engine’s sophisticated algorithms have tried to understand the human language to provide holistic yet efficient solutions.
Like BERT that was achieved a few years earlier, Google sort to use MUM as a means to help searchers who may have technical questions find the right answers fast. In other words, through MUM, Google told internet users that no matter their queries, Google’s algorithm software was ready to help them.
One of the unique things about the May 2021 Update is that it can capture and understand queries from 75 different languages. Besides, MUM can understand and comprehend images and texts.
Now that MUM is in place, webmasters are no longer worried of BERT.
Page Experience Update – June 2021
Google Page Experience Update takes into account several signals that aim at creating the best user experience. To be able to give pages the best score, Google looks into every signal including page speed, content, media and text before it gauges different websites.
To help site owners know how their websites fair, Google delivers a candid report on the Search Console. The pages speed report is updated regularly. To achieve a comprehensive page experience score, Google considers the following among other things:
⇢ Mobile usability
⇢ Core Web Vitals
⇢ Security issues
⇢ Ad experience
⇢ HTTPS usage
In addition to these, Google also expands the usage of non-AMP type of content to Google News and the removal of AMP badge from various search results.
Summer Broad Update – June, July 2021
The Summer Broad Update, which came in two parts – first in June and another one in July meant that Google was keen on making modifications on site SEO ranking and traffic. In other words, sites that enjoyed a monopoly of taking position one or the first few top positions on page one could see a drop in their positions after the two updates were effective.
When making the update, Google mentioned two important things – Core Web Vitals and Page Experience Signal. Although some people argue that the two core updates were separate and distinctive, Google says they complement each other.
The most important thing about these two updates is they will enable the searcher to have exclusive and unique page experience. In other words, through the updates, Google vowed to give searchers real answers to their search queries in the most effective manner.
As it would deem fit, Google would provide some searchers answers in form of YouTube videos, images, or texts. According to one SEO strategist, there was fluctuation in terms of ranking and traffic across all websites.
First, thin-content sites saw a decline in traffic. This was followed by large websites with many pages. They too saw a decline in traffic after the first update that took place in June.
Link Spam Update – July 2021
This update took effect on July 26, 2021. According to Google, Link Spam Update aimed to identify and assess afresh sites that have been ranking thanks to link building. With this update, sites that for a long time have outranked others would not be penalized directly.
Instead, the B2B websites would lose the value of those links that they have paid so dearly to get. During the announcement, Google also made it clear that it was looking at some of the clumsy SEO practices.
Some of the manipulative link-building schemes Google warned about during the Link Spam Update include:
⇢ Mutual backlinking
⇢ Closed link networks
⇢ Link wheels
November Core Update – November 2021
The November 17, 2021 Google Update is among those that shocked many because it took several days before its wrath was felt fully. For thirteen days, the November 2021 Update brought changes across all websites.
Changes were felt in SEO, ranking, as well as page experience. Unlike most other updates that Google made in the year, the search engine gave out some insights on how to recover. The advice Google gave this time is similar to what it gave in 2011 during the Panda algorithm.
Here are some of the suggestions Google gave out to those whose sites were affected:
⇢ Provide original content
⇢ Report on research that can be confirmed
⇢ Give substantial, complete as well as comprehensive description of the subject at hand
⇢ Provide insightful analysis in an interesting manner that makes it unique than competitors
⇢ Write descriptive and helpful headlines
⇢ Provide readers with summaries that help them know what the content talks about
⇢ Do not copy and paste or rewrite other people’s content
⇢ Write content that can be bookmarked or shared with friends and relatives via social media and other models
⇢ Content must be authentic, one that can be referenced, printed or even be made into a book or a movie
Brief History of All the Google Updates (2000 – 2021)
From the Google Toolbar Update that took effect on December 1, 2000, to the latest update on November 17, 2021, a lot has been witnessed. There have been cries and jubilations in equal measure.
Whenever changes take effect, Google says overall user experience is given priority. True to that, the ultimate winner is always the searcher who gets direct answers fast. In the above section, I have tried to talk about some of the core updates that Google has done in the past.
From my experience, we can learn several things including:
1. Great Content Wins
That is true. Although some of the updates, such as December 3, 2020, Core Update did not necessarily touch on content, sites with quality and organized content emerge winners at the end of the day.
2. Wholesome Writing
Sites that talk about topics rather than a query will always be considered winners. Gone are the days when the search engine favored sites that addressed a single question, leaving out sites that addressed the whole issue.
Arguably, a person may require a specific answer. However, that may not be necessarily the only problem. As usual, there may be other related issues. With that in mind, Google will always deal favorably with websites that tend to incorporate many other related queries other than the one query a search may have had in mind.
From the updates, especially the Google January 2020 Core Update — January 13, 2020, and the April 8, 2021 Product Reviews Update, it is clear that Google wants owners to be honest.
First, it was January 13, 2020, Core Update about affiliate disclosure that shed light on what Google wanted to be done. While Google retaliated that advertisements are key to maintaining an online business, it warned that those who engage in the business must be honest.
Google told webmasters to disclose that some clickable links on their sites led users to where they would be required to spend money. In its view, Google wanted site owners to vividly tell users that by clicking some links, they will spend their money. In the end, the site owners may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost.
On what looked like revisiting unfinished business, The April 8, 2021 Product Reviews Update emphasized that site owners should be ready to tell the user the pros and cons of the product based on proper research.
Besides, Google encouraged webmasters to properly describe the product’s physical features, compare similar products, and explain how the user will benefit from the product.
How to Check If Your Website Has Been Affected By Google Update?
The fact that you are a site owner does not mean you know everything. There may be a lot that you do not know. You must be alert all the time because Google keeps making changes. This is how you check if your site has been affected by a recent update:
⇢ Confirm there was indeed an update.
⇢ Give it time to settle (usually a few weeks).
⇢ Check your analytics.
⇢ Use Google search to see whether your keywords are ranking as they were before the update.
⇢ Check your backlink profile.
How to Recover From Google Update
If after a thorough SEO audit, you discover that your site was negatively impacted by a recent update, you may want to find solutions. Yes, you may want to take action. Here is where many people get lost. They simply do not know what they can do to recover from a recent major update.
Assuming that you know what the update was and when it happened, here are some of the practical steps you can take to recover from a recent core update:
Review Google’s Quality Guidelines
Before you start to implement any changes on your site, it would be prudent to read Google’s rater guidelines. In the guidelines, Google usually gives a detailed report on what it requires websites to have.
As part of their way of salvaging the situation, Google gives suggestions on how webmasters can improve on their sites. It’d be remarkable on your part to understand what the Google engine wants. Otherwise, you will have no choice but to comply.
Because rater guidelines might be many, you had better take notes as you read along. That way, it’ll be easy to refer to the pointers when it is the right time to implement.
Assess Your Content
Content is key. Yes, in most cases, changes on Google updates affect content (written copy). Look at your most valuable web pages. The web pages may be those that you know have been ranking or are still ranking. See if they need some adjustments to make them even better.
Depending on the size of your site, you may want to look at all of your content (web pages that were affected and those that were not). When assessing your content, you may want to ask yourself these four important questions:
⇢ What is the quality of my content?
⇢ Do I present my content as an expert?
⇢ How is the production/presentation?
⇢ Is the content comparative?
On the first question, what you seek to answer is whether the content is original. While your content may not provide a completely new thing to the mind of the reader, quality content should always bring fresh ideas to the mind of the reader. The content must provide and remind the reader of a new angle or direction he/she never thought existed.
Besides, you mind want to look at the headline. See if it is as descriptive, inviting, interesting, and helpful as possible. If it’s not, you can tweak it a little.
As for the second question, see whether the content that you’ve given your readers for a long time has factual errors. If for instance, you are talking about financial tips, does your content help people save money or lose money in the end?
If you were the reader, would you trust the ‘financial’ or ‘health’ tips from this webpage? Would you bookmark the page for further reference? It is also good to ask yourself this question: does the content look like it was written by an expert in the field of the subject or topic enthusiast. If not, then you might want to adjust it to read as one.
On matters of presentation, quality content should always be error-free. The grammar should always be top-notch. It is extremely bad when a reader goes through content and he or she feels as if an amateur wrote it because it is full of grammar and spelling mistakes.
The other thing that affects the presentation of content is if it’s too sloppy, has excessive ads, or doesn’t display well on mobile devices.
Regarding the last question, you might want to check your content if it offers value compared to your competitors’. If the content doesn’t serve the interest of your reader, then it won’t rank longer.
Your honest answers to these questions will stand between your quick recovery from the recent core update and your site losing it all from the search engine.
Give Your Readers the Best Content Possible
Now that you’ve answered all the four questions honestly, start to make improvements to your content whenever necessary. To be productive on this endeavor, start with the most important page to the least important. Nonetheless, prioritize on pages that do not require a lot of work.
If your site has a product or service page that has been affected, you might want to adjust this first. Besides, if the page is offering valuable tips on how to deal with a current problem yet it has issues of displaying on certain gadgets, you need to give it a priority as well.
In other words, make your website as appealing as possible and 10x better than it was before the Google core update struck.
Build Powerful Backlinks
Without a doubt, backlinks are one of the surest ways of ranking. Let no one lie to you. Backlinks play a pivotal role in your site’s ranking. After a thorough audit, you might want to see which sites link to your site.
You have the liberty to increase or reduce the number of backlinks. After all, you may want to link to authority websites that matter to you and are good for business. Linking to a site or page that has been penalized by Google, the same search engine whose recent core updates you want to recover from is fatal.
Google updates whether minor or major will always be there. Whenever they come, they create tension among industries the core update affects. Those that are not affected rise to replace industries that have been dominating for months even years.
As a webmaster, you do not have the power to stop Google from rolling out an update. However, you can prepare for an update by doing a proper SEO audit, structuring your site, making it more user-friendly, writing quality content, and being as honest as possible.
If your site has been hit by an update, it’s not the end of the road. A few months following the core update, your site is likely to recover. You can expedite the recovery by doing a few yet important things.
Some of the things that have helped some webmasters recover after a Google update affected their site include understanding the update, providing quality content, and following Google’s suggestions.
If you do these things, you will not fear any Google update that will come your way, whether minor or major.