Over the past year, Google made a whopping 3,200 changes to its search system, amounting to an impressive 8 changes a day. It’s safe to say that this number is a far cry from the lowly one change a day initiated back in 2010. As SEO experts we also know that these changes often arrive unannounced and take their time to settle in and unpack their algorithms on the world wide web.
The full effects of Google’s algorithm updates on the search system is still unknown, leaving many of us in the dark. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. While some consequences include drops in traffic and shifts in positions on the SERP, those practicing ethical SEO strategies can adapt to these changes and still achieve high quality rankings. Remember that the ultimate aim of all Google algorithm updates is to create a high quality user experience and improve the understanding of search queries.
In understanding where and when these changes occur, industry professionals are able to account for certain side-effects to webpages in the update aftermath and devise the best strategy to neutralise them.
To keep you informed, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of all Google’s major algorithm updates in 2019 to date.
March 12th 2019, Google Core Algorithm Update
Touted as a ‘broad core update’, this change was a big one. The term ‘core’ indicates that Google was not targeting any particular website or quality, almost like an NHS health check. The underlying goal was to improve overall user satisfaction through the process of Neural Matching – an algorithm first introduced in 2018 that enables the generation of more diverse search results.
Winners and Losers
Interestingly, this algorithm update affected all search queries relating to sensitive topics in the legal, financial and most prominently health industries. Some have said that this update reversed the affects of the E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trust) update rolled out in August 2018 – otherwise known as the Medic Update – which also targeted webpages in the health arena. Everydayhealth.com and verywellhealth.com were among those hit the hardest.
However it has also been reported that other medical sites with a strong brand profile and topical focus experienced improvements in site visibility. A key factor known to account for these positive side-effects was the favouring of YMYL keywords. This acronym for, ‘your money or your life’ is what Google uses for webpages that impact the future of users’ happiness, i.e. health, financial stability etc. In laymen stems, webpages that could successfully answer user search queries relating to YMYL keywords went up in the world as they could provide a higher level of trust.
June 3rd 2019, Google Core Update
The June 2019 core algorithm update was the first update that Google announced ahead of its implementation – a stark indication that this would likely have major effects on the SEO ecosystem. It has been speculated that this update targeted news providers that offered low-value content to users.
Winners and Losers
The five-day roll out impacted a plethora of large digital publishers such as the Daily Mail (who saw a 50% drop in search traffic) and CNN, who still claim to be in recovery. On the flip side, others including the Mirror, the Sun and the Metro experienced positive spikes in search traffic. The underlying causes of why the Daily Mail saw such dismal results post-update are still unknown. Some blame the lack of user trust in their content, their political positioning and the volume of poor quality advertisements. What we do know, is that SEO analysis of the core update continues and has been made doubly as difficult to understand due to its overlap with the June Diversity update (see below.)
June 6th 2019, Google Diversity Update
Google’s diversity update was the antithesis of the March core algorithm update. Side-effects were minor and the change itself was narrowly targeted as a result of lesser known improvements made. The aim of the update was to limit SERPs from displaying various results from the same websites and to improve the assortment of options on offer for the user.
Winners and Losers
Some say that because this update overlapped with the June core update (which finished rolling out on the 8th June), that its affects on webpages were minimal. Users continue to demand a greater array of websites on the SERP, suggesting whether Google has done enough to address the issue of limited diversity? While there have been mostly positive results from this update, we have spotted a few discussions on Twitter that suggest otherwise. SEO industry professionals have predicted that we should expect to see more algorithm updates surrounding filtering out similar content on the SERP in the near future, so results may continue to improve in time.
Possible updates sighted in July 2019
On 11th – 13th July we spotted possible signs of an algorithm update. While this was unannounced, some have reported changes to YMYL sites, many health related. Prior to this around 1st – 9Th July, there were also spotting’s of a possible change to the June 3rd update. Again, information on this is in scarce supply and further highlights the importance of consistent site monitoring and metric analysis.
Winners and Losers
The unconfirmed July update has yet to expose those who benefited and those who suffered from the change. Some debate that the scale of the update was not momentous enough to impose significant damage, while others claim to have experienced rank fluctuations to the bottom half of the SERP across all markets.
August 16th 2019, Google Search Ranking Update
Over the weekend, there have been signs of an algorithm update, labelled the Google Search Ranking Algorithm Update, that begun on August 16th 2019. While we personally have not yet seen many changes to our clients’ websites (19th August 2019), there are ongoing discussions on Webmasterworld as well as Twitter.
We will keep you updated. Meanwhile, if you’d like to know how to protect your site from future Google updates, click here for our breakdown of Google’s blog, or get in touch today.
With thousands of changes rolling out each year and over 200 contributing factors to Google’s algorithm, navigating your website through a Google update minefield remains no easy task. However, in the event of a major update, those in the SEO community should take the time to scrutinise traffic and rankings in order to understand if a site has been hit at a given time and pinpoint if any other affecting factors have come into play.