What are the latest updates from Google I should know about?
Here at StuLane.com, we’re keen that our clients should be noticed by and rank highly with the key search engines, and we work hard to make that possible. A key part of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is staying across the latest updates from industry juggernauts such as Google – which we do so you don’t have to! But, equally, we’re keen for our clients to understand these changes and their implications.
Google has become well known over the years for its long history of algorithmic alterations, search index changes and refreshes, and it tweaks what it does all the time. In 2020 alone, there were 4,500 alterations, including updates to its ranking system, user interface and more. In fact, one statistic from a respected industry website reports an average of a dozen such shifts daily.
This is the first in a new series of blogs in which we summarise recent key Google updates.
December 5: Changes to the helpful content system
Google’s ‘helpful content system’ generates a signal via its automated ranking systems to better ensure people see the most original, useful content in the search results. The idea is to reward content where web users feel they’ve had a good experience, while at the same time not ranking content which fails to meet expectations.
The signifier runs continuously, monitoring both new and current sites. Google regularly refines how it detects unhelpful content. The latest change launched on December 5 and will take a couple of weeks to complete. It improves the classifier, and works across all content globally, plus all languages. While there are no specific details, new signals or adjustments to previous ones are potentially included.
If the last update to the helpful content system, released in August, hit your website, the December update could see your rankings rise.
October 19: Spam update
Google released its latest search ranking algorithm adjustment targeting the ‘spammier’ side of search results. Again this is a global update, affecting all languages. The previous such update was in November 2021.
In a statement, Google said:
“Our automated systems to detect search spam are constantly operating, (and) we occasionally make improvements to how they work. We refer to this as a spam update. Sites that see a change after a spam update should review our spam policies to ensure (compliance). Sites that violate our policies may rank lower in results or not appear at all.”
So if you notice traffic changes from the organic Google search results, this update may have affected you. Google hasn’t specified whether by ‘spam’ it meant links, content or anything else.
September 20: Product review update
The fifth in a string of updates targeting poor-quality product reviews began towards the end of September, later than initially announced. This adjustment will only affect you if you run product reviews on your website. Essentially, the algorithm update rewards product reviews which are of high quality and which share detailed research, rather than thin content which could just as easily be found on the manufacturer’s website. Ideally, reviews are written by those who have tested and experimented with the product in question, and will include photos, videos, benefits and flaws of the product, market comparisons and similar first-hand thoughts.
This doesn’t include customer reviews, but only long-form product review articles, such as Tom’s Guide or Wirecutter.
September 12: Google core update
Every few months, Google makes broad, far-reaching updates to its systems and search algorithms, called core updates. Some are so small Google barely announces them. They’re designed to show that, overall, the engine is providing searchers with dependable, relevant results. The idea is not to target particular sites or pages, but overall improvement of the way systems assess content. Some pages may perform better in the rankings as a result.
Think of it, advises Google, like a list of ‘top 100’ films you created last year. A year or two later, you’ll probably want to change it.
To do well when these updates happen, offer consistently strong content. Assess what pages are not being viewed so often, or what kind of searches have dipped, and try to learn why.
This September’s core update was completed over two weeks, and was this year’s second such change. Industry insiders report it being weaker than previous core changes. However, inevitably some sites have been affected. So it’s worth studying your analytics to see if any of your pages have lost visibility or rankings and, if so, where. Work out an action plan to improve things and claw back any lost rankings. (We can help you with this.)
In the months ahead, we’ll keep you abreast of future Google updates. And with those mentioned above, there’s really nothing to worry about. However, if you have any questions, do be in touch.