Notice a Drop in Rankings? How Google's Core Update Affects Your Site + How To Recover

Notice a Drop in Rankings? How Google's Core Update Affects Your Site + How To Recover

Has your website recently changed rank since the March Google core update? You're not alone.

Every few months, Google updates the algorithm that determines which pages reach the top, and the bottom, of the search engine results pages (SERP). Google is on a righteous mission to downgrade unhelpful pages while uplifting organic and valuable content in their search results. However, with every change, there is a chance that your legitimate and valuable business website will also experience a change in ranking. Some will be lifted, but it is also possible to experience a drop in page ranking due to a simple balance change in the system.

No matter how perfectly fine-tuned your SEO strategy may be, it is necessary to rebalance the algorithm, which can affect everyone across the board. It's not unusual for good websites to lose page ranking as a result of these little tweaks in the algorithm. So businesses must stay on their toes to maintain a top position.

This article will explain the intricacies of Google core updates, how they impact your page ranking, and how to stay competitive each time the algorithm is adjusted. 

What Are Google Core Updates?

When Google changes the automatic algorithm used to assess and rank search results, this is known as a core update. Major core updates are often announced and occur every few years. However, minor core updates are quite frequent. It is common for core updates to be released every few months.

This means that any website's SERP position may change based on slight variations in how sites are assessed and ranked from one month to the next. In 2024, the March Google core update has had a larger impact than most anticipated. Some sites are experiencing a drop in ranking that was not expected due to the significant changes in website ranking protocols.

The Purpose of Core Updates

Each of Google's core updates is focused on improving the quality and relevance of Google search results while breaking up any false ranking earned by manipulating the system. The goals are always the same, to promote high-quality, highly relevant, and expertly sourced information while devaluing pages that are written for search engines instead of human searchers. The methods used to achieve this goal grow more sophisticated over time, and changing the rules frequently makes them harder to manipulate.

The Impact of Core Updates

The side-effect is that many legitimate business and personal websites may experience unexpected changes in rank, either up or down. Because SEO is a technical endeavor, getting your strategy and website settings "just right" may change from one core update to the next, making it necessary to update your website as often as Google updates the algorithm to stay on top. 

A Breakdown of Google's March 2024 Update

What changes were implemented in Google's March 2024 core update? Understanding what has changed will also help you adapt your SEO strategy and maybe even make it possible to increase your page ranks higher than they were before.

Improved Quality Ranking

Google has enhanced the automated algorithm of the core ranking system. The goal is to reveal and promote the most helpful information while penalizing unoriginal, low-value, and scale-created content that provides little real information. One of the primary examples Google gives is its desire to detect and downgrade websites designed for search engine rank rather than user experience.

The expected impact is a 40 % reduction in low-quality content so that more relevant and original work can rise to the top.

New And Improved Spam Policies

Google is once again cracking down on SPAM content in new and innovative ways. The update seeks to combat the ever-evolving SPAM tactics that have recently adapted to previous algorithm updates. Google aims to prevent low-quality and duplicate/unoriginal content such as:

  • Scaled content - Human or AI-created content en masse, which provides many words for little value
  • Site Reputation Abuse - Posting low-value content from third parties on high-reputation websites like self-published articles on platforms like Medium or LinkedIn where users can publish their content on a high-value domain.
  • Expired Domain Abuse - Spammers buy an expired, once-legitimate domain and populate the website with spam and misleading content.

Each of these examples will be penalized, downgraded, or disappear from the index when detected.

Reduce Low-Quality, Unoriginal Results

Unoriginal content has become a real problem, as competitors and scale content producers continue to make close copies if not identical copy-pasting of original work. AI and similar human writing have also been producing a large mass of low-quality content so that word count is no longer a qualifying factor.

Google seeks to refine the core ranking system to target unhelpful content. For example, pages made to match search queries without providing a complete and useful answer will be penalized. The goal is to increase traffic to legitimately helpful, expertly backed, and high-quality websites that provide real answers for search engine users. 

How Long Does It Take To Recover From a Google Core Update?

Google Core updates are released every few months. This means that your website may experience a drop in ranking with one update, but then recover after the next. Legitimate websites that provide real value will not need to worry about being penalized. However, as the fine-tuned rules of SERP ranking change several times a year, no position is completely stable.

The March Google core update makes major changes in the way unhelpful content is handled.

Improvements Do Not Guarantee Recovery

These steady quality-focused changes also mean that minor improvements to your web pages or content do not guarantee restoration to your previous page ranking. When Google changes the way it prioritizes page value, you may need to update your strategy and only newer pages may see the benefit. If Google finds content out there that they consider better, they will prioritize that content.

This poses a challenge for sites looking to stay on top, but sticking to Google's core values of high-quality content and rewarding user experiences will help you avoid losing too much rank with each new core update.

How To Check the Impact of a Google Core Update on My Website

How do you know if your website has been impacted by a Google core update? How do you know if you have recovered from a post-update loss in rankings? The key to how to recover from a Google core update is to check the impact and adapt your SEO strategy with each major update that is announced.

Changes in Search Rankings and Visibility

Using Google Search Console and other third-party tracking tools, you can check the potential fluctuations of your site's ranking after each core update. You can also implement manual and automated SERP monitoring. 

User Experience Considerations

Keep track of your user experience metrics. Bounce rate, time on page, time on site, and heatmaps can all tell you how your website visitors are experiencing each page. You can see engagement levels, where they linger, where they click, and when they "bounce". Page speed and mobile friendliness also make an important difference.

Remember, you may be developing the website on a PC, but over 50% of web browsing now takes place on phones.

Traffic Fluctuations and Patterns

You will also want to keep track of your website traffic patterns after each update. Watch organic traffic, referral traffic, and overall web traffic to see if the patterns change or fluctuate when Google changes the core algorithm. Use tools like Google Analytics, traffic segmentation, and trend analysis to see this useful data.

Analyzing the Impact

Know the right tools to analyze the impact of each Google core update.

  • Google Search Console - Use performance reports for impressions, clicks, and position changes.
  • Third-party Tools - Use SEMrush, Moz, and Ahrefs for keyword rankings.
  • Manual SERP Monitoring - Observe ranking changes directly in search results.
  • Comparative Analysis - Compare pre and post-update metrics for insights. 

Rising to the Top After Google Core Updates

If you are noticing a drop in ranking and want to recover from a Google Core update, the key is to master the constant flow of core update changes. Each update has the potential to change your page ranking, but the right strategy of high-quality content and adaptive SEO techniques can help keep your site visible and productive with each new update.

Begin by understanding and adapting to these updates with the goal of sustained success. Steel Croissant can help by applying our vast and diverse team of experts to improve your website's performance, SEO strategy, and user experience so your site stays on top no matter how Google changes the rules.

Steel Croissant is made up of a team of experts in UX, Web Development, and SEO, which will help you navigate each new core update effectively. We understand the challenges of SEO and Google updates and are ready to help you adapt dynamically to maintain your hard-earned ranking. The Steel Croissant team is committed to providing tailored solutions for B2B businesses to thrive in the digital landscape. Reach out for assistance managing your website's performance after each Google core update.

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