Google frequently rolls out new updates, introducing changes that aim to improve user experience by delivering high-quality content through web searches. With these changes, websites commonly notice an impact on their search rankings and analytics during and after the rollout.
A core algorithm update is one of the most significant updates Google makes to its algorithm. These updates are major changes to the search algorithm that can affect many websites and search queries.
Before you change all your content to please the Google gods, let’s look at what we know so far and our recommendations for tackling this core update.
In this blog, we'll take a closer look at Google's Core algorithm update, including what it is, how it works, and what website owners can do to stay ahead of the curve. We'll also explore some potential impacts of the latest update and offer tips on adapting your SEO strategy accordingly. Aimed at helping recruitment marketing managers build a plan of action, we’ll look specifically at how this update may impact SEO for recruitment agency websites.
What is the Google Core Algorithm Update?
The latest Google Core update began rolling out on the 15th of March, and SEO experts have been waiting with bated breath to see the impacts on their client's websites.
The rollout itself may take up to 2 weeks, resulting in a few weeks of fluctuation in your search rankings. As this is a broad core update, Google doesn’t reveal exactly what it has changed and how it may impact websites, as it did with the Helpful Content Update or the Core Web Vitals rollouts in 2022 and 2020.
This is the first major broad update of 2023, following a smaller product reviews update in February, and so we expect it to have an impact on websites that have not been updating their content since the Helpful Content Update in August 2022. With changes to AI content and ChatGPT rolling out in the same month, we believe this update will be Google’s attempt at staying a step ahead of AI-produced content by implementing rules in how the algorithm reads content and verifies its origins.
How will the Google Core Algorithm update affect your SEO strategy?
As with many Google updates, you may have a few weeks where rankings look slightly different while things stabilise. As we always say with any Google update, the key is not to panic. It's completely normal to see an initial impact in your analytics.
We recommend waiting around 2-3 weeks and monitoring this impact but don’t make any reactive, rash changes to your content before you’ve had time to monitor. This allows us to see how the website responds and make data-driven decisions to amend or update content and SEO principles on your site.
Our advice for marketing managers and junior SEOs is to stay informed. With Google updates occurring several times per year, website owners should strive to create high-quality, relevant content that meets the needs of their audience, regardless of any specific algorithm changes.
How to recover from the Google Core update
Over the years, Google has been rather cryptic about how to recover from a broad update such as this one, with the expectation of the Core Web Vitals update, which changed how Google ranks based on website experience.
With most updates, Google states that nothing needs fixing if your web pages drop rankings after an update. The assumption is that you always work on SEO, allowing your website to be prepared for any and all changes. However, various Google liaisons have provided tips on where to begin if your pages are negatively affected, as we all have experienced the update drop at least once!
Here is our checklist for getting through any Google Core Update:
1. Don’t panic - take your time to monitor changes in your organic traffic and Search Console performance for at least 2-3 weeks. Remember that Google takes a few weeks to roll out its update worldwide, and if you are impacted, you might not know about it immediately.
2. Use data to decide which pages need your attention - using Google Analytics, Search Console, and third-party keyword monitoring tools such as SEMrush to review performance.
3. Improve the relevancy of impacted landing pages - if you do notice organic traffic and keyword drops on any of your landing pages, review their content using the Helpful Content Update guidance.
4. Ensure your long-form content pieces are providing value and depth - the biggest change in Google’s view of content is the move towards highly-informational content, ensure you’re providing in-depth insight in your long-form pieces.
5. Optimise content so it’s written for humans not search engines - it seems counterintuitive, but if you’re optimising landing pages for SEO, do it with humans in mind! Use long-tail keywords and search queries to create content that answers their questions whilst also hitting those SEO keywords in a less obvious way.
6. Improve on and off-page authority - be mindful of where you link (and how!) and who links back to you. Spammy links and low-authority websites don’t help in improving authority.
7. Produce a technical SEO audit - tech SEO audits allow you to look under the hood to see not just how your organic traffic and keywords are performing but also page speed, UX//UI, or Core Web Vitals. Core updates often impact what Google expects in the website “performance” meaning your content might be brilliant but if your website is slow, Google will rank you down.
8. Create a new content strategy to build back your rankings and authority - if you’ve done all your checks and you can see that you are losing organic traffic and visibility, it’s time to build a plan to update your content and website performance one key area at a time.
The role of AI-generated content
By now, you’ve probably heard of, used or even mastered ChatGPT as a content tool to save you time with copywriting. ChatGPT is an AI chatbot that uses a natural language process to deliver human-like content as part of a dialogue with the user. Many marketers have quickly adopted ChatGPT into their daily life, but most people haven’t yet researched the impact of these AI tools on SEO success.
AI is here to stay, whether in how we use it to produce content or how it is read. Google has been using the Cloud Natural Language API for a while, developing Bard AI and other tools to improve how Google algorithms work.
It’s been common knowledge in the SEO community that Google is moving towards AI-generated searches, eventually replacing algorithms with an AI that would act as Google’s very own Jarvis answering your questions. And we believe ChatGPT has pushed Google to speed up its tests and start updating searches to be more and more AI-led.
So, where does ChatGPT fit into this? We believe it will become a strong supporting tool, particularly in marketing and short-form content such as meta descriptions and social media captions.
When it comes to SEO, it provides lots of data, but it still generates the same answers to a question asked the same way, which could lead to plagiarism. And not all answers are always correct (it likes to lie or give wrong answers occasionally!), and you still need to check its research sources and update the robotic tone of voice in longer content. We believe it can speed up long-form SEO, but it requires a seasoned pro to give the right prompts and reword the content.
There’s great potential in creating better and more optimised headings, meta details, and ideas for SEO-focused blog posts; we recommend everyone try it! Whatever you do, always verify those suggestions against your strategy and Google’s Keyword Planner to ensure you’re on track and that AI is proposing content with search volumes that will make it worth your time.
Need help with your SEO?
The March 2023 Core algorithm update is the latest in many search engine updates. As always, we want to stress the importance of staying informed and not rushing into decisions. Some businesses will see the initial impact on their rankings and want to quickly amend the content on their websites. However, this is not the best way forward. Using our guidance above, you’ll be able to face an update like this without fear, having a clear way forward for your SEO strategy.
Website owners must stay aware of these updates to build a competitive SEO strategy. By monitoring the impact and staying informed, website owners are given everything they need to optimise the user experience and technical website elements to satisfy Google.
With the update now rolling out, it’s time to review your site, content, and keyword ranking. This will help you identify which areas of your site need attention and how your SEO strategy should adapt moving forward.
If you find your site affected by this update or need some support from an SEO expert, speak to our SEO specialists today. For more information on SEO copywriting and content best practices, download our guide for SEO content.