Google’s core search ranking algorithm is one of the most important factors guiding how people engage with the internet today. As the internet itself continues to develop and complexify, Google has periodically updated its algorithm to ensure optimal search results. The last such update occurred on September 24, 2019.
The ramifications of that update are now being felt across the web, and especially within the SEO and marketing sectors. Yet many professionals still don’t understand exactly what the core update is, or how it may affect their websites’ performance. This article provides a useful overview of the recent Google core update, as well as its impacts so far.
Google Core Search Engine Ranking Algorithm
Google’s core search engine ranking algorithm is responsible for structuring the results that an individual sees when conducting a Google search. Without this structure, it would be virtually impossible for an internet user to find what they needed. Each time you conduct a Google search, the core algorithm sorts through billions of web pages to present the most useful and relevant results.
The core search engine ranking algorithm actually consists of many different algorithms. These algorithms are designed to analyze numerous factors, including:
- the words in your search query
- relevance of web pages
- usability of web pages
- expertise of sources
- searcher’s location and settings
All of this processing takes place in a fraction of a second, and ultimately determines the particular order in which your search results appear.
Google Core Updates
Internet content continues to proliferate at a rapid rate. In order to continue delivering the best search results, Google must be constantly updating its search protocols. Google itself has admitted that it makes as many as 3,200 changes per year to its search systems. Of course, most of those changes are relatively minor, and don’t necessarily alter the search rankings.
Changes to the core search engine ranking algorithm occur less frequently — about four times a year, on average. Yet these changes tend to have far more noticeable effects. Sites may suddenly begin ranking higher — or lower — for their prime keywords. Web traffic often increases or decreases proportionally to these ranking changes.
The September 2019 Core Update
Google announced its September 2019 Core Update via Twitter on September 24. This was the second consecutive time that Google has chosen to pre-announce a core update, following the June 2019 update. The roll-out began later on the 24th, with the expectation that it would take a “few days” to fully complete.
In the first few days, professionals were not able to gauge the scope of the changes. By now, however, the changes have finished proliferating across the web, and industry experts have been able to start collecting data about how the core update has affected global search indexes.
Impact of the September 2019 Update
One way to measure the changes caused by a core update is in terms of volatility. Volatility measures the percentage of changes in search results rankings. Certain sectors tend to experience more volatility than others. According to the company RankRanger, the Health and Finance sectors took the brunt of the September 2019 core update.
For instance, the Finance sector experienced a 21 percent volatility increase in the first ranking position, and a 37 percent increase in the second ranking position. At first glance, the Health sector may not seem to have suffered as great a hit, with only 5 and 7 percent volatilities in the first and second ranking positions, respectively.
Yet when you look at the volatility of the top ten search results, the Health sector experienced a 92 percent volatility increase, as compared to 85 percent for the Finance sector. Of course, the more results you include in an analysis, the greater the volatility will be. Still, the top ten numbers for Health and Finance were almost double those of Retail and Travel, which came in at 59 and 55 percent, respectively.
Fortunately, the September 2019 core update did not prove quite as disruptive as the June 2019 core update. The website Sistrix.com, which tracks how core updates affect individual websites, has confirmed this optimistic viewpoint. In a recent article they reported that, while the changes resulted in some “clear winners,” there were no significant examples of losers.
Response to the September 2019 Update
Although the overall impact of the September 2019 update seems to be relatively mild, individual websites may still experience changes in their visibility. A visibility decrease, in particular, can prove especially stressful for companies. In the wake of such a ranking hit, it is natural to wonder if you have done something for which the core update is now punishing you.
After years of silence about how companies should respond to core updates, Google finally issued a statement in August 2019. In that document, Google stressed that webmasters should be careful about how they react if their sites drop in the rankings. Fixing the wrong things may only hurt your search ranking further. More importantly, you may not need to change anything at all.
Google also stressed that the best thing you can do to ensure optimal search rankings is focus on delivering quality content on your website. Ultimately, the changes that Google makes to its core algorithm are designed to reward websites that deliver top-notch content. In particular, Google made clear that their search algorithms attempt to prioritize websites with the following qualities, among others:
- Originality of information, reporting, research and analysis
- Depth of information and analysis
- Correct spelling and styling
- Trustworthy presentation of information
- Factually accurate content
- Ease of viewing on mobile devices
- Content geared towards genuine visitors
In a nutshell, Google’s search algorithms want to make it harder for websites to “game” their search rankings by including poor quality filler content. Ultimately, these changes work in the best interest of reputable businesses, who should already have a strong vested interest in populating their sites with high-quality content.
If you find yourself worried or confused about how Google’s September 2019 Core Update may affect your website, you’re not alone. Fortunately, the experts at BWS Technology keep up with all of the changes to Google’s search algorithms, and can help you determine the best way to optimize your search rankings. For more information, please don’t hesitate to reach out today.