What the new Google update means for your business
It’s been a rollercoaster year for Google’s algorithm updates, with three major ones having landed in March, August, and September. And now, the fourth and latest update of the year is already here in October! If your website has been impacted by a fluctuation in ranking positions – don’t panic just yet. Let’s first take a moment to fully assess what’s going on and how this might be affecting your position.
So grab a cup of tea or coffee, and let’s unpack everything that’s been going on in the world of SEO…
SEO specialists and businesses have been taken by surprise by the series of updates that Google has been rolling out in quick succession. These updates have led to significant ranking fluctuations, leaving many wondering if the changes are due to Google re-settling or if there are other factors at play. If this is you, don’t worry, we’ve got the answers you’re looking for. However, before we delve into the issue, let’s take a closer look at each of the updates that have been released in 2023 so far for some context.
The March 2023 Core Update
March 2023 saw a significant shift in website rankings following Google’s Core Update, causing more ups and downs than the previous update in September 2022. The update was somewhat unpredictable, resulting in significant changes in website rankings. While some websites experienced minor shifts, it also led to new websites appearing in the top search results. This update generated a sense of uncertainty in the SEO world, with some questioning its accuracy. Consequently, businesses had to adjust their SEO strategies to cope effectively.
The August 2023 Core Update
Everyone in SEO expects a couple of Google updates a year – it’s standard practice. So when the August update rolled in, no one was surprised; that was until the update brought about significant changes in search rankings. Unlike previous updates, this one lacked the traditional spike in rank volatility. However, the severity of ranking shifts was more pronounced than before, with URLs moving up or down three positions on average – making this update miles more impactful than the March update. What’s more, a significant number of URLs previously ranking beyond position 20 made it to the top 10 results! This showed substantial ranking changes, and despite the challenge in assessing its impact, this update highlighted the nuanced nature of such changes and their influence on businesses’ online visibility.
The September 2023 Helpful Content Update
With just seven (yes seven) days reprieve after the chaos of the August Core Update, Google decided it was time for their latest Helpful Content Update, which began rolling out on the 14th September 2023. This update caused a significant shift in its content guidelines, with the focus of this being to ensure website owners prioritise user-centric content over content that’s created solely for search engines. As a result, Google has made fundamental changes, including adjustments to machine-generated content guidelines, revised rules for hosting third-party content, and new advice for websites that experience traffic loss after the update.
One of the most notable and perhaps interesting changes is Google’s softened stance on AI-generated content, indicating a more favourable view. The update advises against hosting unrelated third-party content on a website’s domain and provides guidelines for identifying and replacing unhelpful content.
This update is a testament to Google’s commitment to improving search quality, and it requires website owners and SEO experts to adapt to maintain optimal search rankings. The changes brought about by the update highlight the importance of creating content that serves the user’s needs rather than solely focusing on search engine optimisation. Which, generally speaking, is a good thing!
And after three updates in six months, SEO specialists thought that would be it for 2023 updates, but nope, much to the surprise of everyone, Google announced it would be rolling out another Core Update, starting the 4th of October.
The October 2023 Core Update
Which brings us up to date. As it stands right now, Google has officially launched its October 2023 Core Algorithm Update, marking the third core update of the year following those in March and August. As the update rolls out over the course of the next couple weeks, it’s important to keep in mind that fluctuations in search rankings are to be expected during this period.
And as stressful as it can be, these updates are part of Google’s ongoing efforts to enhance search quality and combat attempts to manipulate its systems. To stay ahead of the game, website owners and SEO professionals are being advised by Google to closely monitor rankings and website performances, and place a special focus on improving content quality and relevance for the users. SEO is an ongoing effort, and staying informed about industry trends and aligning strategies with Google’s guidelines are key to maintaining competitiveness in search rankings.
So, what does all this mean for your business?
Our team at 21Digital has been closely monitoring the situation, and let’s just say it’s been interesting to say the least. Keyword rankings are fluctuating – some by just a few positions and others by as many as 30 positions! And we understand why this could be cause for concern for many business owners. Still we’re optimistic that things will stabilise soon, especially with the Christmas season creeping up on us.
When it comes to handling the impact of the Google updates, it’s crucial to keep a cool head and take an analytical approach. Did your traffic or rankings take a massive hit overnight, or did you only drop a few spots? Depending on the severity of the drop, you’ll need to assess what’s fallen, compare it to what’s ranking well, and draw some conclusions on how to improve your pages.
Don’t panic, though! A competitor or two has likely upped their game if it’s just a slight dip, leaving you a step behind – which is easily rectified. Or it could even just be the metaphorical Google dust needing to settle again after what is the fourth update of the year.
In either case, it’s always a good idea to take a look at what your competitors are doing, even if it’s just to see how you rank against them. If they’re sitting higher than you, what are they doing that you aren’t that Google now deems better? Figure it out and use that knowledge to your advantage!
How can 21Digital help?
Has your business’s website rankings been affected due to these seemingly never-ending updates, and do you need help figuring out where to go from here? Well, you’re in the right place! If you’d like the support of our experts here at 21Digital, don’t hesitate to get in touch!
We’re a multi-award-winning agency specialising in lead generation and e-commerce. We provide a range of digital marketing services, including web design and web development skills to help your business grow. Our services also encompass technical SEO, Google Ads, digital consultancy, social media marketing and email marketing. We have the team and the know-how to help you get your website back ranking where it’s supposed to be – and then some. Want to find out more about what we can do for you? Give us a call on 01254 660 560, and let’s have a chat!