Google has been busy.
As you likely already know, Google is always shifting things around internally given the company’s large scale and wide reach across the web, business and society as a whole. Recently, though, Google has been up to a lot of updates that have affected many sectors of the Google landscape across many industries.
Google Helpful Content Update
The flurry of Google Algorithm Updates began in late August when it was announced Google would be overhauling how it ranks sites and webpages based on their content. Over time, as Google’s AI crawling bots have gotten smarter and better and interpreting what humans react to well, rather than a hard and fast set of factors, Google’s guidelines for content to rank well have also changed.
The Helpful Content Update, rolled out from August 25 to September 9, was a wholesale shift in Google’s ranking of pages with regards to their content. Now, pages that were previously solely optimized towards Google’s bots and not necessarily content that is helpful to users would be looked over in favor of sites that present well structured content that is user-friendly and relevant to the purpose of the site. While this was frowned upon in the industry before, this is a blow to sites that were “optimized” via keyword stuffing into pages and hitting word-count benchmarks without much thought to whether the content would make sense or be relevant to someone trying to get service on your website.
Google Product Reviews Update
While some have described this update as a core update, it isn’t that widespread. The Google Product Reviews Update for September 2022 began on September 20 and is solely targeting reviews for products purchased that get highlighted on Google search.
As you may know, it can be pretty easy to get fake reviews. It’s been commonplace to see nonsense or even fake reviews on Google for a long time to falsely represent a product or service. It’s important to have unique, authentic and helpful reviews for your business’s products online. This update is cracking down on those bad quality or spammy reviews to promote insightful reviews further instead. It primarily is rewarding those better quality reviews rather than those of worse quality. Therefore, products with more good quality reviews will be featured more prominently on Google for various related searches.
Google Core Algorithm Update
This update was the most significant in recent memory. Google’s Core Algorithm Update began rolling out on September 12. While not much is certainly known about this update, as Google likes to remain quiet on topics like this, we know it rolled out over a period of roughly two weeks. Also, Google will announce updates it deems large enough to be noticeable to a large volume of stakeholders, i.e. businesses, users and SEOs online everywhere.
The effect of this update can be seen in businesses all over the web — regardless of industry — with ranking fluctuations and reshuffling taking place as Google begins to crawl and read these sites with a slightly altered perspective. These fluctuations can even hit the most optimized site, keeping SEOs (including us at DigitalParc) on their toes on how to return these sites to the rankings they had before the updates.
Early signs point to this core update not being as volatile as those earlier in 2022, but still extremely significant for site optimization going forward to the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023.
Google Local Search Ranking
Early in September, Google had indicated there was a potential update into the Local Search Rankings. This turned out to be something worse than an update, but even a bug that tanked some sites’ local rankings that month. The good news is that Google began rectifying the issue to the bug near the end of September to fix the local rankings for these sites that were wrongly affected.
The local rankings matter for many businesses, especially small ones that provide local services. What’s more, users click on results in the local rankings and local pack at a much higher rate than organic ranking positions and even advertising positions. Users click on the local pack 44% of the time, more often than the organic and paid positions. These local results are invaluable for some businesses and having Google rectify this bug is music to many sites’ ears.
As you can see, Google is always tinkering with its algorithm, and it takes a lot to stay caught up. Contact DigitalParc today if your website is looking for a new strategic SEO direction.