We’re no stranger to Google core updates, and they seem to be happening on a quarterly basis these days. The last one we heard about was in June, but in September, Google pre-announced that a new core update was rolling out.
In keeping with their promise to make things easier for SEOs and webmasters, this is the second update they announced before the fact, with the previous one being the June Core Update.
On September 24th, Google announced on Twitter that it was releasing the September 2019 core update later that day. Now that we’ve moved out from the update, it’s a good time to take a look at the impact of the update.
What is a Core Update?
As a refresher, Google core updates affect how the search engine ranks websites and how it determines what is the most relevant web page for specific queries. Remember, If your website is hit as a result of one of these core updates, there is often nothing you can do to fix your site after one of these updates.
Google says, “We know those with sites that experience drops will be looking for a fix and we want to ensure they don’t try to fix the wrong things. Moreover, there may not be anything to fix it all. There’s nothing wrong with pages that may perform less well in a core update.”
What Changed in the September 2019 Update?
With any Google update, whether it is a core update, changes to the user interface, or quality update, we see a change in the search results. Some of these changes result in sites ranking higher for their primary keywords, while others see a drop in position and still some see no change at all. Also, click-through rates may be affected by updates and you may notice more or less traffic after any of these updates.
Google has made more than 3,000 changes to the algorithm over the last year alone. Core search algorithm changes happen several times a year, but larger core search algorithms happen around once every three months.
Using the data available from various SEO toolset providers, once aggregated, we see that this update was not as strong or as impactful as the June core update. Overall, they September for update appears to have had a stronger impact on the “your money, your life” (YMYL) category websites.
According to RankRanger, the health and finance niches, as is typically seen with these core updates, took the brunt of it. Volatility increases at positions 1 through 3 during the June update were much higher than what we saw with the September update.
Sistrix said their initial Impressions were that medical, media, and travel domains were included from a global perspective. In the United States, there were clear winners. And when it comes to losers, there were no significant examples to share. Looking at the data, the September core update shows less of an impact when compared to the June update.
The DailyMail, which suffered greatly in the June update, saw a nice recovery. Their data indicated that other big winners were AdditionCenter.com, AutoGuide.com and BiologyDictionary.net.
According to SEMrush, their research center showed an average level of volatility for September 25th as 4.7. Volatility in some categories such as news and sports is higher, but these categories are likely to have higher changes throughout the day. There was not a strong pattern for winners or losers in this update.
As stated by SEMRush, the biggest winners were DailyMail, eBackPage.com, MarionSchool.net and LSAD.org. The Australian version of the Royal Caribbean site along with BraidingClub.com, Monks.org, TheFourMusic.com and PascoLibraries.org were among the biggest losers.
Overall, the SEO community seems to agree that there was little impact. It seems that a fairly even number of people saw an increase in rankings and a decrease in rankings. About half the people polled said they saw no change yet. Many people who suffered a large drop in June saw a decent recovery as a result of the September update.
What Can You Do?
Because there’s nothing specific to fix, Google has given a little bit of advice to help those who have suffered a drop in traffic. Their advice is similar to the advice they gave around the Panda update in 2011. Google says to focus on ensuring your offering the best content you can because that’s what their algorithms seek to reward.
Google provided this list of questions to consider when evaluating your content:
- Does the content provider original information, research, analysis, or reporting?
- Does the content provide a comprehensive, complete, or substantial description of the topic?
- Would you expect to see this content referenced by or inside a printed magazine, book or encyclopedia?
- If the content draws on other sources, does it avoid copying or rewriting those sources and instead provide additional value and originality?
- Is this the kind of content that you’d want to share with a friend, recommend or bookmark?
- Does the content present information in a way that makes you trust it?
- If you were researching the site producing the content, would you leave with the impression that it is well trusted or recognized as an authority on the topic?
- Would you feel comfortable trusting this content for issues related to your money or your life?
- Is the content free from spelling or style issues?
- Does the contents play well for mobile devices?
- Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in the search results?
For the best chance of pleasing Google, you need to make sure you can answer “yes” on all of them. If you can’t, make adjustments to that particular area quality and expertise. This helps ensure that your audience will be happy with the content they consume on your website. When you make your users happy, Google will be happy, too.