Follow the advice in this post to help you navigate the potential storm caused by Google’s latest update.
If you’ve spent any time browsing SEO topics on social media over the last few days, you’ve likely encountered ripples of Google’s latest March 2023 Core Update, such as algorithm trackers sharing graphs showing fluctuations or backlash against drastic changes in the SERPs from stressed marketing teams and frustrated site owners.
Here is the official announcement on Twitter:
Today we released the March 2023 core update. We’ll update our ranking release history page when the rollout is complete: https://t.co/sQ5COfdNcb— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) March 15, 2023
Like previous algorithm updates, this one has grabbed the attention of excellent SEO resources like Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Roundtable as well as the wider SEO community.
If you feel at a loss or lack confidence when confronted by your boss about what impact the update has had or will have or how you’re “fixing it”, you’re not alone. So let’s walk through common gut reactions and what you need to know to stay calm over the next few weeks and prepared for any questions that may come your way.
It’s important to remember: a core update is not an attack on your website or your individual actions.
The March 2023 Broad Core Update is a classic “broad core update” – a global update not specific to any region, language, or website category. Not you specifically. The goal behind updates like these is that Google gets better at assessing content and determining what pages serve the best answers to searchers’ queries. These changes may result in boosting pages that were previously under-rewarded, which means some websites may face drops while others will experience gains in their traffic.
“What have I done wrong?”
In a word: nothing. We can’t stress this enough.
Wasting time looking for a major technical issue is a common mistake. If you’re seeing a decline in organic traffic it’s not because your website has serious SEO issues but is simply the result of Google finding better results for those search queries.
Google has a history of rolling out broad core updates that better understand factors like user intent, what web pages are about and how those pages are relevant to search queries. For example, if Google determines that searchers want ideas and information on a topic, then that will negatively impact sites that only offer transactional pages with little information.
ME: Oh there’s been a core update. I wonder what insight SEO twitter has?— Andrew Isidoro 🚀 (@Andrew_Isidoro) December 4, 2020
“Quick! How do I fix it before it gets worse?”
Avoid acting too quickly.
During the initial days of a core update, algorithm trackers may start showing significant fluctuations. This is an indication that a lot of websites are seeing huge increases and decreases in their organic ranking positions, which often leads to marketing teams having panic attacks. However, rather than panic, it’s best to wait for the update to fully roll out across Google’s data centres and to settle. This usually takes between 10-14 days.
What commonly happens after those first few days is a period of relative calm that is then interrupted when Google engineers make adjustments or reversals. This is why jumping to conclusions or making drastic changes is not recommended – anything can change.
Wait until the full update is done rolling out before making any significant decisions about changing your entire website – that is, unless you are doing something that violates Google guidelines and you need to fix it. Stay vigilant and monitor your rankings and organic traffic until the 29th March 2023 and go from there.
“For the love of link juice, how did that site get there?”
Monitor what is happening.
Watch for websites that are winning rankings and try to understand why those sites have succeeded. Look for patterns and compare this with those that have seen drops. Core Updates are quality updates, so in particular, review the content and overall quality of any website you look at.
“Is the site too slow? Is it not mobile-friendly enough?”
Sometimes, Google will make changes targeting specific tactics, such as to reward page speed and mobile-friendliness or fight webspam and low-quality content. However, broad updates, like the March 2023 update, it’s designed to ensure that overall, the search engine is delivering on its mission to present relevant and authoritative content to searchers.
Me at 9am to a client: “Well, we’re probably due a core update soon so we need to keep a closer eye on performance.”— Tom Etherington (@Tom_Etherington) May 25, 2022
Me at 5pm: https://t.co/gZiQ4pSvBJ pic.twitter.com/sBI7hlTgrt
“When will this happen again?”
Google is constantly working to improve the quality of its search results. In fact, they release one or more changes every day. However, those changes usually aren’t noticeable. This is the first update of 2023. The last core update was September 2022, while the ones before that were: May 2022, November 2022, June & July 2021, December 2020, May 2020, January 2020 and September 2019.
“Well, what should I be doing?”
Google doesn’t give out the details of its routine updates. Instead, advises content creators to focus on quality content. It is often recommended to step back from it all, take a broader view of your overall website and see what you can do to improve the site overall. It’s best to view the changes through the lens of how a site best addresses the search intent. Here are key activities you can do to help:
Analyse Google Search console and site traffic in analytics over the following weeks to further see the impact of this core update
Improve the quality of the content and its authority. Google’s mantra has always been that there is not much you can do about an algorithm update and changes in rankings except to keep improving your content quality
Evaluate whether or not your content is authoritative, helpful to users and formatted in a way to help search engines and users
Make sure existing SEO mistakes are fixed and avoided
Provide original information, reporting, research, or analysis, along with a comprehensive description of the topic
Strive to make your content the most holistic resource on the web for a user’s specific query
“Do I need an SEO agency to recover from this?”
SEO specialists can’t pick up a magic wand and make your website magically reappear if you’ve lost rankings and traffic, especially when it comes to the core updates.
Core updates are about the relevance of the website overall. Anybody can take a website and rewrite the content to make it more relevant, therefore you don’t need to be a professional SEO to recover.
With SEO experts, we often know what is happening, why that has happened and what search engines might be looking for. But essentially, anybody can update a website and make it better.
If Google’s March 2023 Core Update has impacted your business and you want to speak to somebody at Good Signals about SEO, contact email@example.com. Learn more →
Following these answers, you should be on your way to silencing the panicked internal questioning that the update has brought. Be patient and focus on the quality of your content during this time and you’ll be well on your way to the top of the rankings, not to mention ready for any questions your boss might throw your way.
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