2023 Google Core Algorithm Updates

This year has been quite a rollercoaster in the world of SEO with several notable algorithm and system updates shaking up the SERP. Let’s dive into each of these updates below.

November 2023 Broad Core Update

This November 2nd, Google has begun to roll out the 4th broad core update of the year. These are different to specific system updates as they impact the algorithm as a whole, which is a group of specially selected systems, instead of one respected system. For example, an update on the freshness system (which specifically looks to show users the most up-to-date and relevant content) is used to generate those types of search results. This would make it easier to understand any changes in rankings/traffic and adjust accordingly.

This significant core algorithm change aims to provide the most relevant results and has been rolled out following one in March, August, September and October. That is quite a lot of updates in such a short amount of time, which is not historically standard for Google! However, don’t go adjusting things just yet, as it can take over 2 weeks for the full effects of an update to settle.

During November we also witnessed a review system update, however, Google has shared that they will no longer be announcing these. The best practice here is to ensure your reviews come from trustworthy sources and share important information such as dimensions along with visual assets where possible, as this makes them more beneficial to readers.

Noble suggests:

As always, place importance on creating the most relevant content that will be beneficial to your end user. If you witness drops after the rollout has been completed, review the affected pages and see if they can be updated pages with more relevant, and authoritative, information.

October 2023 Broad Core Update

We witnessed another update on October 5, 2023, which was completed on October 19, 2023. This update targeted all regions and languages online. While you may be wondering why this core update is happening back-to-back with the other ones experienced this year, Google has shared a statement giving us more insight as to why this is happening:

“We have different systems that are considered core to our ranking process; this month’s core update involves an improvement to a different core system than last month,” Google said in a statement. “However, our guidance about core updates is the same for both.”

As with all other core algorithm updates, this has been designed to improve the systems that assess content overall.

Noble suggests:

If you notice that your rankings or traffic has dropped after the completion date of Oct. 19th, then you can assess your site for the following:

Ensure your content is original and correct. If you are utilising sources, do you provide an insightful take or add additional value?

User experience and site speed are vital components. Test and optimise your mobile performance first.

Is your content helpful to the reader and your target audience? Does the content on the page match the intent and expectations tied to the primary keyword? Is it better than the competition that is currently ranking there?

Ensure your site is easy to crawl and limit cul-de-sacs or dead ends. This is important to users and crawlers alike.

October 2023 Spam Update

As of October 4, 2023, Google released a spam update that was made to improve its spam detection system. This update specifically targeted Turkish, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Hindi, and Chinese, along with other languages. If you have a multi-geographical site, this will be of importance to you!

This rollout ran parallel with the October Core update, but it targeted a specific system. It is nice that Google shared this information as it gives us a starting area to research if we saw a negative impact once the update had been completed.

Noble suggests:

If you feel that your site has been hit by the spam update, or you just want to ensure your content isn’t deemed as “spammy”, here are some recommendations. 

  • Ensure your content isn’t thin and repetitive. Each page should hold value. If it is, perhaps you can merge it elsewhere to make the other page more valuable.  
  • Write with Google’s EEAT (experience, expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness)  in mind. Share profiles of your writers, accreditations, and more information as to why you are the best source. 
  • Focus on building a healthy backlink portfolio. The more healthy sites that link to you, the more trustworthy you seem. However, please remember it is quality over quantity!  
  • Remove unhelpful content from your site. By removing thin pages that house no SEO value, you can clean up your content and direct users to the right places.

September 2023 Helpful Content Update

On September 14, 2023, Google released an update to the helpful content system. The rollout was completed on September 28, 2023.

Importantly, Google has updated their guidance around AI content! While Google used to strongly share its preference for human-generated content, they have slightly changed its perspective – adapting to the times. Instead, Google says is okay to use AI for content creation, as long as it is making something great for the user and aligning with EEAT. 

Another impact of this update includes the standards around third-party content. If your site hosts third-party content, you may have experienced a drop in rankings. Google now advises blocking third-party content from being indexed if it is unrelated to the main purpose and receives no direct oversight. 

Noble suggests:

Utilising AI in marketing is a great way to have a competitive edge, but there needs to be a balance, and you need to incorporate your expertise when reviewing the work that has been put together with these tools.  

As always, Google intends to provide users with people-first content, not pages that have been created to “trick” search engines. Always ask yourself “who, what, and why” when optimising existing pages, and creating new content. 

August 2023 Broad Core Update

On August 22, 2023, Google released a broad core update – the second adjustment this year. However, once reviewing rankings, we saw less volatility from this update when compared to the release in March.

Google has been sharing consistent advice since its Panda algorithm update in 2011. They want you to offer the best content you can, as seen by your audience. However, this specific update is about content relevance. So, review those primary keywords and ensure your content aligns with their intent and beats what the competition has to offer! 

Noble suggests:

Google is looking to lift the rankings of high-quality results, so you need to focus on offering the best content you can, not just turning out pages due to keywords having high search volume. 

It is important to note that this specific update is all about content relevance. So, review those primary keywords and ensure your content aligns with their intent and current SERP listing. And, as always, ensure your page beats what the competition has to offer! 

April 2023 Review Update

The April 2023 Review Update was launched on April 12, 2023, and is a significant algorithmic update regarding reviews across a massive range of industries, not just products. This is an exciting time for users, as they can find more reliable listings that match what they are looking for! 

Any business that relies on reviews should be monitoring its performance and emphasizing collecting high-quality user testimonials and reviews as we can tell that real customer experiences are becoming more and more important to our rankings. 

It is important to note that Google says: 

“The reviews system is designed to evaluate articles, blog posts, pages or similar first-party standalone content written with the purpose of providing a recommendation, giving an opinion, or providing analysis.”

Noble suggests:

Reviews can come from staff members, bloggers, or other sites. They must be detailed, share important things about the product service or place and use comparisons where possible. Perhaps you can offer an incentive to gain more reviews over a certain character count? Or ones that include imagery? Trustpilot is also a Google partner – they work together to help your rankings – however, Google gets the ultimate say as to how this data is utilised. 

March 2023 Broad Core Update

This Core Update was released on March 15, 2023. It impacts all sites, languages, and regions. However, the industries with the most impact were Entertainment, Shopping, Internet/Telecom, and Business/Industrial.

Site owners should focus on creating high-quality and high-value webpages with helpful content, good user experiences, and strong E-E-A-T signals (experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness).

Noble suggests:

If you have used methods in the past that are considered “spammy” such as buying backlinks, keyword stuffing, creating thin pages just to target keywords, or simply having a bad site experience, it’s time to audit and adapt. With each update, Google is getting better at targeting these poor pages and using this information to remove them from the SERP. 

Once you have a holistic idea of what needs to happen, tackle it by priority – getting the biggest things done first. 

February 2023 Product Reviews Update

The Google Product Reviews Update launched on February 21, 2023 and concluded on March 18, 2023. This update only affected e-commerce sites with specific products.  English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Russian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Polish were all impacted. 

Noble suggests:

If you currently sell products, it is very important to ensure you have reviews available on your site. Better yet, implementing review schema will ensure Google understands exactly what content is a review on your site. If you fail to do this, you may see more negative impacts in the future. 

Google’s Algorithm Updates & SEO

At Noble, we are always ahead of the game, ensuring that our content exceeds expectations. If you are ready to begin your SEO journey, please get in touch with us and we can see how we can elevate your performance and increase your organic traffic.