When it comes to the Google algorithm, change is the only constant. The search engine is frequently updated, even more often than what’s typically documented. It can be a real challenge to keep up.
Even so, staying on top of the major rollouts can ensure your experience with organic search is a positive one. Once you’re familiar with the changes, you can determine whether you need to make any alterations to your strategy.
In this article, we’re going to cover the latest Google algorithm updates that may have a big impact on your organic search rankings. If you’ve noticed any fluctuations in your search traffic or rankings lately, these rollouts could be the reason.
The Latest Algorithm Updates From Google
Product Reviews Update
Launched 9/20/22, Completed 9/26/22
The fifth in a series of updates targeting low-quality reviews, the Product Reviews Update has the potential to cause a greater impact than previous iterations. That’s due to an earlier rollout called the Helpful Content Update (more on this below), an update that’s strengthened each time a new algorithm change is released.
Simply put, the Product Reviews Update impacts you if you publish product reviews on your website. If you don’t, then you won’t be affected.
Note this update only targets English-language product reviews.
September 2022 Core Update
Launched 9/12/22, Completed 9/26/22
The September release of the Core Update is like any other core update — as Google puts it, “One way to think of how a core update operates is to imagine you made a list of the top 100 movies in 2021. A few years later in 2024, you refresh the list. It's going to naturally change.”
In other words, if your website is affected by a core update, it doesn’t necessarily mean there is anything wrong with your pages. It also doesn’t mean you’ve been penalized. Rather, think of a core update as the Google algorithm ensuring content still meets the needs of humans. You may even be rewarded by these types of updates.
Helpful Content Update
Launched 8/25/22, Completed 9/9/22
Perhaps one of this year’s biggest amendments to the Google algorithm, the Helpful Content Update brought sweeping changes to organic search, including:
- A focus on helpful content – Content must be created for a specific audience, feature expertise, be trustworthy and credible, and meet the wants and needs of the reader.
- Prioritizing content written for humans – Penalties will be applied to websites with content written for search engines rather than people.
- Sitewide impacts – Rather than a page-by-page analysis that existed with previous algorithm changes, Google is applying this one sitewide.
- Long recovery time – If your site was impacted by this rollout, the search engine encourages you to make changes but says it could take months for you to see improvements in ranking.
While the Helpful Content Update may bring challenges for some websites, it does put a focus on creating better experiences for people — a move that ultimately helps brands and businesses with their own customers.
Google algorithm changes are not an equal opportunity experience. While one update may greatly impact one website, another website completely evades it. Some rollouts may even reward your website and web pages, rather than dealing them a devastating blow. It all depends on whether your website can be viewed as helpful or unhelpful (in the eyes of Google, of course) and if your website continues to deliver a satisfactory user experience.
If you want to learn more about how Google’s organic search works, check out our guide to how Google ranks websites.
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