What Google Updates Mean for Your Website

google updates graphic
What Google Updates Mean For Your Website

As with all technology, updates are an expected and necessary part of life. There are software updates to add features, and security updates that patch discovered flaws, and many others.

When it comes to Google search, updates are also something that is necessary to provide an effective search experience. It should also be expected that Google updates its search engine algorithm.

It should also be expected that your website content and formatting should be checked regularly to help ensure it is performing well as Google performs updates and makes changes.

Let’s take a look at some of the recent Google updates now and see what they were about, what Google said they addressed, and what impact they had.

Recent Updates: October 2022 Spam Update | Google Helpful Content Update | September 2022 Core Update | Product Reviews Update

google updates graphic

The October 2022 Spam Update

Google Spam Update HTML

What it Was About

On October 19th, 2022, almost one year since the previous spam update, Google released the October 2022 spam update. Google said “This update is global and affects all languages. The update could take several days to complete.”

Google uses automated systems to detect search spam and, periodically, will update those systems. When they do, a Google Spam Update is usually announced.

What it Addressed

The intent of this update is to address clear offenders of Google’s spam policies and invoke penalties on those sites. You should consider the full write up of those spam policies in the link, but here are some of the spam techniques that are listed for an example:

  • Hacked content
  • Doorways
  • Hidden text and links
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Machine-generated traffic

While these and others are specifically listed, Google will act on any forms of spam its systems detect.

What Impact it Had

The direct impact of this update will be better understood once it completes, but typically, sites that are impacted by Google’s spam updates are hit hard. We will continue to monitor the results of this update as it continues to roll out.

Additionally, webmasters should expect it to take months to recover if a site is impacted by this update.

If you believe your site is impacted by a Google spam update, the first thing you should do is contact your webmaster or hosting agency. A careful and thorough review of Google’s spam policies needs to be done. Then, confirm a manual action has not been taken by consulting the manual actions report.

The Google Helpful Content Update

google helpful content
Source: blog.google

What it Was About

On August 25th, 2022, Google rolled out the August 2022 helpful content update. The rollout completed as of September 9, 2022.

This update was intended to focus on providing search results for content that made visitors feel they had a satisfying experience. In other words, content that met the searchers intent and provided them with helpful information from a trusted source would perform better than content that doesn’t.

What it Addressed

The Google Helpful Content update addressed content that was written “for search engines” rather than users in mind. Unfortunately, some SEO “experts” or self-proclaimed “gurus” made a practice of writing content that fell just short of black-hat practices, but clearly was written to cater to computers rather than humans.

This update also addressed the AI written content that recently became popular. Some sites and blogs would use extensive automation to flood their site with content. Along with that, just a dense amount of content even organically written by a person that just tries to summarize topics in hopes to appear in more search results won’t work for you after this update either.

Additionally, for content to truly be helpful, it needs to come from someone with established authority on the subject. For example, a website primarily for hairstyles would probably not be an authoritative source for the best long-term dividend stocks to invest in.

And Google finally addressed the long-held gospel of SEO “experts” that no, there is no particular word count that the algorithm prefers. So, if you get some offer for blog posts from an agency saying that they meet some word count, that it is some best practice of Google’s, it isn’t! They don’t know what they are talking about so, steer clear!

What Impact it Had

Sites that provided helpful, “user first” content experienced a nice boost in rankings. Just check out an example of one of our own:

google helpful content update
One example of a website we manage with an over 100% increase due to the helpful content update

For sites that did provide content that met the criteria mentioned above however, saw large drops in impressions and ranking on search results. This is also important to note that it impacted entire sites, not just the offending page or post.

The September 2022 Core Update

google core updates

What it Was About

Google rolled out a core update on September 12th, 2022, and it was finished on September 26th, 2022.

While Google has minor updates that happen constantly, throughout the year, they will have updates they refer to as “core updates”. These core updates are announced ahead of time, whereas the other, less noticeable updates are not.

This is because the core updates make broader changes that are certainly going to impact the algorithms that influence search rankings for websites. The goal of these updates is to provide relevant and authoritative content, and to refresh the results users see.

For example, you may have a favorite band and a list of your favorite albums or songs. Well as the band writes new music, that list is likely to change. The idea is similar when Google makes a core update. By keeping the SERPs fresh and re-examining the content that is available, users should get a better experience.

What it Addressed

Core updates, like discussed above, aren’t really about any one particular facet of search. It’s about refreshing what users can find and presenting them with the best available content.

What Impact it Had

Overall, this particular core update seemed to have less of an impact than previous updates. Of course, that doesn’t matter if your site was impacted! This is why it is important to track your site with analytics to see what a core update might have done to affect your site.

The Product Reviews Update

google product review update

What it Was About

To make matters worse, while a core update was going on, Google released a product reviews update on September 20th, 2022. This update finished and was completed on September 26th, 2022 alongside the core update.

This was the fifth revision of the product reviews algorithm. These updates are focused on pages that have reviews of products (obviously), to ensure shoppers find the best information and make the best decision before purchasing a product.

What it Addressed

Google has a list of best practices they expect your product reviews to adhere to. You can check the full list out here. But essentially some of what your review pages should focus on is:

  • Show you are an expert on the product you are reviewing
  • Provide evidence like visuals, audio, or other links of your own experience with the product
  • Explain what makes this product different than its competitors
  • Discuss the pros and cons of a particular product, based on your own personal experience
  • Explain why you consider that product the best, with first-hand supporting evidence
  • Always form your review and writeup from the user’s perspective

What Impact it Had

Google Product Reviews are typically very impactful and usually cause a lot of movement for the sites it hits. Much like their Core Updates, Product Review updates might hit just one post or just the blog on the site, but it will subsequently impact the entire site.

It is worth noting too, that if a site does lose ranking and positions, it may not necessarily be because it did anything wrong. It may simply be because other sites gain positive traction from the update.

This then makes it very difficult to pinpoint what the actual impact was. However, as Google and any actual SEO expert will tell you, if you follow best practices and stop trying to write content for a search engine, but rather for humans to benefit from, you will organically perform better.

We can help you stay up to date as SEO processes change and make your content stay relevant. Contact us today.