May 31, 2022

minutes read

New Google Core Update – 20 Ways To Recover If Your Site Has Been Hit.

By Graham Hansell

May 31, 2022

Search Console, SEO

Google finally announced the release of the first Broad Core Algorithm update this year on Wednesday, the 25th of May 2022. This has led to many site owners scrambling to try and figure out if their website SEO traffic has been damaged in this Google Broad Core Update. If you have seen a sudden drop in traffic or conversions since the update, don’t worry – you’re not alone. In this blog post, we will discuss how to detect if the Google Broad Core Update has hit your website and how to fix the issues.

What is a Google Core update?

Google has a history spanning over 20 years of search for information — which means the algorithm is constantly updated with new data from the company. Google introduced new search features to its search engine in the May 2022 core update. And Google announced that they’re releasing core updates to Google’s website. Google’s core system is being updated for a significant overhaul of its search algorithms. While most launches are ignored, a broad core update needs attention because search engines see its influence. Continue reading to learn more about Google’s core algorithms updates, including examples.

What Is A Google Broad Core Update

Broad Core Updates are when an algorithm update is designed to improve search results’ quality by ensuring that relevant and authoritative content is being ranked highly. During the Broad Core Algorithm Update rollout, the update affects all languages and countries over the following two weeks.

These updates have caused significant changes in Google search rankings for many websites “caught” in the changes to the algorithm and therefore tend to have the most significant impacts. Of course, that doesn’t mean your site will be affected, but we will show you how to check and find out below.

Google uses an analogy of “a top 100 movies list”

Google describes updating a top movie list:

  • you made a list of the top 100 movies in 2015
  • A few years later, in 2019, you refresh the list. It’s going to change naturally.
  • Some new and wonderful movies that never existed before will now be candidates for inclusion.
  • You might also reassess some films and realize they deserved a higher place on the list than before.
  • The list will change, and films previously higher on the list that move down aren’t bad. There are simply more deserving films that are coming before them.
Google's top movie list analogy
Google uses an analogy of “a top 100 movies list”

When Was The last Google Core Update?

Danny Sullivan
Google Search Liaison

That was the 25th of May 2022, when Danny Sullivan, the official public search liaison for Google, announced it in an official blog post, “May 2022 core update”.

Danny noted that it would take “1-2 weeks to fully roll out” in his post, so with up to two weeks, there might not be an immediate “hit” on Google Organic Traffic to your sites.

However, in the SEO communities, there were posts within 24 hours of sites taking hits from the new Broad Core Update.

Google confirmed this algorithm update as they have started to do over the last few years (especially since Danny Sullivan has taken up his role). Still, in the past, there were many times a change noted in the SEO community was not an unconfirmed update by Google. So instead, it has been down to the Webmaster & SEO community to share experiences and tell if a likely Algorithm update has happened.

It is noted that the rollout started at 11:30 ET. This means that depending on where your site is in the world (and which timezone your analytics is set in), your site might start seeing traffic drops from these times (please note 24 hour clock and bold shows the next day):

Has Your Site Been Hit?

Do You Need SEO Help To Recover?

If your site is suffering since the Google Broad Core Update, please get in touch by the form

or click Live Chat.

  • New Zealand – 3:30 2022/05/26
  • Australia – 1:30 2022/05/26
  • China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Western Australia, Brunei, Irkutsk, Central Indonesia, Philippines & Mongolia – 23:30 2022/05/25
  • The Middle East, including Lebanon, Israel, Iran, Palestine, Suadi Arabia, United Arab Emirates – 17:30 to 19:30 2022/05/25
  • Europe including Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom – 16:30 to 17:30 2022/05/25
  • Canada, Central America, South America, and the United States – 11:30 to 8:30 2022/05/25

So check your Google Analytics (Universal or Google Analytics 4) to Google Organic traffic drops from these times onwards.

SEMRush Sensor shows a large number of changes (9.4 out of 10) on 26th May 2022

Google Broad Core Update Rollout Now Confirmed As Complete

Google Broad Core Update is now rolled out

How Do You Know A Update Has Been Released If Google Doesn’t Confirm It?

There are a whole group of SEO tools providing free of charge “weather reports” on what is happening in the Search Engine Results Pages, but that doesn’t mean it is a definite Algorithm change.

SEO “Weather Report” Tools

What Is The Latest Google Algorithm Update 2022?

For 2022 the update in May 2022 is the latest and only Google Core Update so far.

There has been one other update, and that was in March 2022 with the Product Reviews Update.

The Product Reviews Update (March 2022) had Google announce an update to their product reviews algorithm. This update was focused on Google surfacing high-quality and trustworthy product reviews from the multitude of affiliate-driven product review sites.

It was noted again at the time that it would take a “few weeks” to roll out fully. In addition, it built on the work of the two prior product review updates. Like those, this update is meant to help Google to identify high-quality product reviews and reward them with better rankings.

In this update, there were 3 new bits of advice from Google for the Product Reviews Update:

  • ranked lists
  • recommendations of “best” products
  • creating reviews for multiple vs. individual products

How Many Broad Core Algorithm Updates Does Google Release Per Year?

Sitelynx has analyzed the Google Search Algorithm updates as recorded by Search Engine Journal, but we have analyzed the last ten years specifically to answer this question.

Here is the table of results for all updates (search, local, etc.) as well as Core Updates.

So to answer the question “How Many Board Core Algorithm Updates Does Google Release Per Year?” – in the last ten years (2012 to 2022), there have been 79 updates so far. But out of those 79 updates, only 16 of them have been Google Core Updates.

So there have been less than 2 Broad Core Updates by Google per year (an average of 1.6) in the last decade.

Less than 2 broad core updates per year on average in the last decade

How Often Are Google Core Updates?

When we look at the Google Core Algorithm update schedule over time, some trends emerge.

The busiest year for Core Updates was 2018, with 4 Core Updates. Then from 2019 to 2021, there have been 3 core updates per year, and then back in 2016 (when Google started calling them “Core Updates” officially), there were 2.

In the last 10 years there have only been 16 Google Core Updates with 2018 the busiest year

Graham Hansell May 2022

This year in 2022, there has been one so far with the 25th May 2022 release, which is now rolling out.

Which Were The Busiest Years For Google Search Updates?

If we zoom out and look at all Search Algorithm updates (Web Search, Local Search, Images, etc.), 2012 was the busiest year with 21 updates.

The second busiest year was the last year, 2021, with 13 updates. So it seems the rise in Web usage during the COVID-19 Pandemic showed the need for more changes to Google Search than in previous years.

The Month With The Most Core Updates?

The most “SEO dangerous” month for Core Updates is January, with a total of 4 since 2012. So it looks like the Google Search Engineering Team waits for the seasonal peak in consumer shopping in November and December (Singles Day, Black Friday, Holidays) to be over, then drops a new algorithm update in the New Year.

January is the most common month for Core Alogrithm Releases

For any Webmaster or SEO, enjoy the Winter holidays but be back for January!

Graham Hansell May 2022

As a side note, you can have a look at getting a Google Engineering job with them here.

How Do You Check If A Core Update Has Hit Your Site?

How To Check That Changes Are Due To The Core Update and Not Something Else

Here at Sitelynx, after diagnosing SEO problems for over 25 years, we have developed a practical framework for the process.

This framework is known as DAARTS, which focuses on six stages of data to review. Following each step, it shows you if a new broad core update has impacted your site or which is possibly just a coincidence. 

Below we show each stage with some free tools anyone can use to check themselves:

DAARTS Measurement Framework

(C) Sitelynx Ltd 2016

To provide data on each stage of the DAARTS measurement framework, below you can see each stage and some free Google tools to measure the data.

StageMeasuresTool
DemandSearch Topic Search TrendsGoogle Trends
AwarenessBrand searchesGoogle Trends
AttentionSearch Query and Landing Page impressionsGoogle Search Console
ResponseClicks & Click Through Rate (CTR)
Google Search Console
TransactionsUsers give time engaging with content, giving personal lead data through forms, emails, or phone calls, and finally giving financial transactions in the form of eCommerce sales or Sales Leads,Google Universal Analytics or now Google Analytics 4
ServiceWhere users have had an experience where they will provide feedback in the form of referral links, social shares, and social reviews.Google Analytics
Google Alerts
(C) Sitelynx Ltd 2016

By following these levels in turn and looking either week on week or month on month at the reports, you should be able to see changes that can lead to specific insights as to the cause.

What To Look For In Your Reports To Show Core Updates?

Below we go through each of these data sources and show where you can see Core Update impacts.

  • Demand: Drops here in Google Trends show that your Audience’s Search Queries and Intent are down. Nothing to do with Core Updates
  • Awareness: Falls in Brand Search Queries is probably an ongoing Brand Awareness issue. Nothing to do with a Core Update.
  • Attention: Here you are looking for Google Search Console Landing Pages Impressions drops trailing by drops in positions. If your pages show less in search results to users, this will show quickly. Then this could be showing a Core Update has hit your site’s pages.
  • Response: Look for drops in Clicks aligned with the decline in Impressions & Positions (Attention above). This is potentially a Core Update impact.
  • Transactions: If you see less Attention and Response above, your transactions will typically fall along with them. This is due to fewer users arriving at your site and less opportunity to convert. However, if there is a ConversionsRate Optimization project at the same time, coincidentally, less traffic may lead to the same or more conversions. Therefore this needs to be cross-checked to determine if anything has been done to improve CRO recently (within the last few months).
  • Service – changes in referral links, social sharing, and reviews will only be a trailing measure following weeks of less traffic to the site. However, there are many other reasons for these drops which need investigating. Therefore this can’t usually be seen as a reliable indicator of a Core Site Update impact.

What To Look For In Google Search Console Performance Reports Following Broad Core Update

We have pulled some real examples of sites we are working with to show what you could see in your own Google Search Console Reports.

As a rule, we have seen no impacts or small improvements however below we wanted to show where we believe we are seeing impacts.

Some Real Google Search Console > Performance Reports Showing Core Update Impacts

B2B Tech Lead Gen Site – Possible Hit Need Another Week Of Data
Established Small Insurance Site – Potential Hit by Core Update Impact
Example Site hit by Core Update in Google Search Console
B2B Business Services Which Looks Hit By Latest Core Update

Here in addition is a YouTube video of a Dutch site owner talking about his experience with the Google Broad Core Update, which is a 30% drop in traffic for his English Language Accessory site.

One comment on this video is that we at Sitelynx, don’t agree with this person’s opinion about the “Google Snippet Ban”, as Google has denied it and Sitelynx has been winning Featured Snippets in 2022.

What Was The Overall Impact Of Google May 2022 Broad Core Update

According to SEMRush.com, there was a change where 17% of URLs in the top 20 were new.

Which Sectors Were Hit Most In May 2022 Update?

All sectors were impacted with only Travel (8.4) seeing fewer changes than the average (9.4).

Real Estate was impacted much more than in November 2021 update.

So it looks like this update was not targeting specific sectors like the Medic Update (August 2018) with its focus on “Your Money Or Your Life” (Health & Finance). It has hit nearly all sectors by the same amount.

SEMRush Peak Volatility By Sectors Graph

DAARTS Analysis of the Google Broad Core Algorithm Update Shows My Site Has Been Impacted – Now What

OK, sorry to hear that, but there are steps to take in turn, and we will walk you through them in the rest of this post:

  1. Don’t Panic! You will make assumptions if you get scared at this point which can lead to, at best, wasted time, at worst more damage.
  2. Walk away for 15 minutes, grab your favorite drink, get your energy back and return.
  3. Now, look at the pages and devices that have been impacted shown in Google Search Console.
  4. Is it just some types of pages on your site, e.g., blog posts, product pages, category pages, or another group
  5. Is it just a type of device, e.g., mobile

OK, I Can See My Site Has Been Blasted By A Broad Core Algorithm Update – Now What Can I Do?

What Does Google Say To Do Following Page Drop After A Core Update?

Google on their Google Search Central > What site owners should know about Google’s core updates say

“pages that drop after a core update doesn’t have anything wrong to fix.”

They also say “previously under rewarded” can get a boost.

This seems counterintuitive to the “one week up next week down” experience you are facing.

Google uses an analogy of “a top 100 movies list” as follows:

  • you made a list of the top 100 movies in 2015
  • A few years later, in 2019, you refresh the list. It’s going to change naturally.
  • Some new and wonderful movies that never existed before will now be candidates for inclusion.
  • You might also reassess some films and realize they deserved a higher place on the list than before.
  • The list will change, and films previously higher on the list that move down aren’t bad. There are simply more deserving films that are coming before them.

So if we look at what they are saying with this analogy, your pages were considered high up in this top 100 list, but now, others are placed higher with the revised and updated judging system.

And this is why a Broad Core Algorithm Update is an SEO challenge and not a SEF problem – meaning it’s about the competitive space your pages exist in and not just “problems on your website.”

But That Seems To Be Googling Saying There Is Nothing To Be Done To Recover From A Broad Core Update?

That is how it is reported across the web, but when you read further into the advice on the process, it is to look at your content in the context of the competition and user intent, not your site.

Google says “Focus on content,” which is broken down into these sections:

  1. Content and quality
  2. Expertise
  3. Presentation and production
  4. Comparative 

They also mention the E-A-T and rater guidelines; E-A-T means Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, and the Rater guidelines are discussed below.

What is E-A-T?

There has been much good discussion around this topic with E-A-T, and these links are a great starting point.

What Are Quality Rater Guidelines?

These are guidelines for how Google wants its reviewers (Quality Raters) to judge the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) they are testing. So the essential element here is – this is how Google decided the SERPs should work (Best Quality), not how they work (Signals + Search Algorithm).

Google describes it as “we use them as a restaurant might get feedback cards from diners. The feedback helps us know if our systems seem to be working.”

So you can see that these guidelines should not be seen as a list of Signals for the Algorithm. Instead, this is a way a Search Engine Results Page should be judged when it is being tested and rated.

But What Does Quality Rater’s Guidelines Mean For My Site’s Change In The Core Algorithm Update?

They explain what the “perfect world” would look like for google’s search results.

These Quality Rater Guidelines (this is a 172 page PDF that is issued to the reviewers for you to read if you want to) are how Google wants its SERPs to work, so don’t be surprised that a Broad Core Update comes along to improve the SERPs to get them closer to what Google wants them to be.

They aren’t the rules but a picture of what Google wants its search results produced by the search engine algorithm to be.

So if your landing page doesn’t align with these guidelines, then in any one of Google’s core updates, your page would be judged worse than those around you in the SERP.

Google’s Core Updates Have Wasted My Site Traffic – How Do I Fix This Horrible SEO Problem?

Sorry to seem pedantic. This isn’t a problem to fix; it’s a challenge to overcome. As humans, we have Problems in the short term view, but challenges are medium to long term. The difference means it’s not just “correct this one thing” but instead “review everything” with the “lens” of what is working in your competitor set post update.

Time For The Best Model For SEO, DECLUTTER To Step In

Sitelynx has a trademarked framework called DECLUTTER SEO, which we use for our SEO training and practical SEO solutions.

The Parts most relevant to Google Core Web Updates are the following:

How To Improve Following A Core Search Algorithm Update

For Starters – remember what we said above. This isn’t a problem to fix; this is a challenge to improve how your pages are judged. So there will be work to do and not just a quick fix. We say that as it sets an expectation for what we cover below.

Now a bit of background; Sitelynx has been focused on SEO since before Google existed (don’t believe us? Here is the web archive link to sitelynx.com December 1996 – Wow, that is vintage). In that time, we have built simple (because simple tends to change things when everything is complex) approaches to breaking down any of these situations.

DAARTS Measurement Reports

As described above, the Sitelynx DAARTS measurement framework allows you quickly identify where the problems lie.

However, it is best not to focus on collecting more and more data but instead focus on the DRIA process to establish what about that data is useful

  • Data – what data can we get on the situation
  • Report – present that data in a simple method
  • Insight – what matters in the report
  • Action – what can we do about it?

DECLUTTER SEO Methodology

Second is our SEO framework to keep everything that matters “in sight” and not lost in the details.

So we will show you that approach below to Google’s advice to help you change the outcome of the broad core update. We are also trying to show you which signals have positive boosts to your pages and negative or drag factors.

Content

Here we have broken down the Google Search Central guide to “What site owners should know about Google’s core updates” but added our Insights and Actions you can take to all of these elements to make them actionable.

Just to remind you what these are, Google (Danny Sullivan, Public Liaison for Search) has broken them down as (links take you to the post):

content and quality (+)

expertise (+)

presentation and production (-)

Comparative (+)

We have marked up the difference questions groups to show in our estimations where these are positive weighed signals (+) meaning the more you get these right, the more your page score goes up it’s (not that simple, but you get the idea), and where they are negatively weighted signals (-), these signals drag down your page in a broad search core update.

Content & Quality Questions To Ask Of Your Pages (+)

Does the content provide original information, reporting, research, or analysis?

One yellow light bulb standing out from blue bulbs - showing originality in content

SEO Insights for “Does the content provide original information, reporting, research, or analysis?”

One significant point here is duplication, with anywhere online which is indexed. For example, Google has hundreds of billions of pages in its index. Does your page copy any of them? Thus might not be intentionally or intentional (e.g., copying and pasting from a Wikipedia page found in the serp you are targeting), but still, are you producing primal (first to publish ) content?

SEO Actions for Does the content provide original information, reporting, research, or analysis?

Run your pages through a Duplication checker.

There are many out there, but here are a few we at Sitelynx use:

Does the content provide a substantial, complete, or comprehensive description of the topic?

Last piece of a puzzle to complete a topic

SEO Insight for “Does the content provide a substantial, complete, or comprehensive description of the topic?”

If all your page covers are one small aspect of the “sub-topic” of a broader topic, you will find that page for a niche set of search queries. So instead, have long-form posts (hub) with sub-topic (edge) pages that cross-link.

SEO Actions for “Does the content provide a substantial, complete, or comprehensive description of the topic?”

Have you a hub page on your target topic?

This page should cover all the significant questions people search for (use Auto Suggest, Related Searches, and People Also Asked).

Length 1,000 plus words (DO NOT take this as a fixed number; it depends on your competing pages in your Topic Search), original images, diagrams, videos

Do you have edge posts on sub-topics?

These are groups of questions that link to a broad topic, and each has its related focus.

Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?

A man obviously saying a piece of wood is a piece of wood

SEO Insight for “Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?”

What does your page add to the overall topic? Something New? Something valuable not found elsewhere?

SEO Actions for “Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?”

Produce your own report on a data source, add your insights, and don’t copy. See below.

For this post, we analyzed our data found in the Search Engine Journal but reported that data in a new way for the first time online.

If the content draws on other sources, does it avoid simply copying or rewriting those sources and instead provide substantial additional value and originality?

Two people copying another person's work - seo content needs to add value

SEO Insight for “If the content draws on other sources, does it avoid simply copying or rewriting those sources and instead provide substantial additional value and originality?”

As with above, there can be an original source, but what does your page bring to the topic that can’t already be found?

SEO Actions for “If the content draws on other sources, does it avoid simply copying or rewriting those sources and instead provide substantial additional value and originality?

Review the topic in the SERP but think about what new angle, aspect, or information you can add to the topic (corpus). Then, go and create that content and add that to the landing page that has got hit.

Does the headline and/or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?

Helpful Page headline and descriptive TITLE tag

Does the headline and/or page title avoid being exaggerating or shocking in nature?

We have grouped these together as they are inversely related.

SEO Insight for “Does the headline and/or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?

These two suggestions are about making a page search engine friendly—nothing new here.

SEO Actions for “Does the headline and/or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?”

Review How do the landing pages that have been hit show up in the SERP? What do the other pages listed above say? Is your page less clearly described and less likely to be clicked (CTR)?

Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?

One person of color sharing a website with another on their phone

SEO Insight for “Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?”

Again these two are essential SEO advice – a page that has links to it (like citations as per the original Page Rank paper) is more popular than others that don’t. The difference is now in what we see as Service metrics: public social shares, social reviews, and inbound referral links.

SEO Actions for “Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?”

Check your landing pages using the methods described above (LINK); what are the baseline metrics.

Promote the page to your audiences. If you don’t increase real users to the page, you aren’t improving your signals. Don’t build links for SEO; build them to get your audience!

Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia, or book?

Adult Students in a library looking up specific information in books

SEO Insight for “Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia, or book?”

Much like above, this shows that the advice is to get authority links from popular, trusted websites. Again, this is essential SEO advice – a page with links to it (like citations as per the original Page Rank paper) is more popular than others that don’t. The difference is now in what we see as Service metrics: public social shares, social reviews, and inbound referral links.

SEO Actions on “Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia, or book?”

To repeat the advice above, check your landing pages using the methods described above (LINK); what are the baseline metrics.

Promote the page to journalists, influencers and authorities. This time look to push out your PR using a Press Release, include it in your influencer campaigns and reach out to your industry authority contacts to make them aware of the page. This standard content distribution method can easily be forgotten from older evergreen pages.

Expertise Questions To Ask Of Your Pages (+)

Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page?

SEO Experts and Authority

SEO Insight for “Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page?”

This is all covered in the E-A-T links earlier.

SEO Actions for “Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page?”

Add pubic linking to other web-based sources that are mentioned in the content. Also, show your author knows their subject and can prove they do by links to other web pages that associate them with the topic. Finally, all the search index has (on a simplistic level) are URLs, pages, and links between pages. So Google builds a link graph between that author’s pages and their reference sources, establishing they do (or do not) have evidence of expertise.

If you researched the site producing the content, would you come away with an impression that it is well-trusted or widely recognized as an authority on its topic?

SEO Insights for “If you researched the site producing the content, would you come away with an impression that it is well-trusted or widely recognized as an authority on its topic?”

Look at the “webfoot” print of your site. Does it look like a real organization with a history and a future?

SEO Actions for If you researched the site producing the content, would you come away with an impression that it is well-trusted or widely recognized as an authority on its topic?

This can be as simple as looking at the Google SERP for your organization’s name – does it show references and links from other sites. Does it show you are a “live organization” with connections to related institutions (company or firm listings for Companies or Non-Profit listings for that type of organization)? If it doesn’t look right, Google a competitor’s particular site appearing above your site in the Google Search Results and see where they are getting their mentions. What organizations or trade associations are they registered with. That then becomes your target list. Don’t think of this as “link building” (we have said don’t do that); instead, focus on “credibility establishment”.

Is this content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?

SEO Insights for “Is this content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?

As we say in the SEO Insight above, “Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page?” this is all covered in the E-A-T links LINK above.

Does the content have any easily-verified factual errors?

SEO Insights for “Does the content have any easily-verified factual errors?”

Now, this is interesting and potentially related to AI content production. With many comments and our own experience with AI content tools using GPT-3, we see more and more “factually inaccurate” content produced by these tools. Of course, the accuracy is not always easily verifiable, but we have seen it in more than a couple of cases.

So, this is something to watch out for in the future as more and more AI-generated, there are some easy mistakes made in the production of this content. If you see a lot of easily-verified factual errors, it is probably best to steer clear. Using machine AI-generated content is only a short-term tactic, as Google knows the “AI arms race” between content producers and search engines very well. Google’s mission statement back in November 2017 — Google I/O, CEO Sundar Pichai, outlined the company’s vision as an “AI first” company. So they have had years to build awareness and skills around AI beyond what simple systems small start-ups are likely to produce.

This is potentially the first round in the “AI arms race”, as with all technology it will develop, but Google will always fight back to protect its SERPs from poisoning from the latest spam update techniques.

SEO Actions for “Does the content have any easily-verified factual errors?”

The obvious one is to get a subject matter expert to check and correct the content. If that isn’t done, you are failing on both this point and the point, “Is this content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?”. Sorry, but we are at the start of the “AI arms race” did you expect it to be this easy.

Would you feel comfortable trusting this content for issues relating to your money or your life?

SEO Insights for “Would you feel comfortable trusting this content for issues relating to your money or your life?”

This is a whole separate area of discussion that we will pick up in another blog post.

Presentation & Production Questions To Ask Of Your Pages (-)

Does the content have any spelling or stylistic issues?

Incorrect word ringed with red pencil

Was the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?

Bad quality house brick with cracks in it

Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?

Machine Learning Robot arms mass production line

Does the content have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?

Multiple outdoor ads

We have grouped these questions as are they are all related

SEO Insights for Presentation and production questions

We will group these all together as they all seem to be related. So maybe your company doesn’t care about their audience and the content given to them. Perhaps the workflow for content production has broken down, and content has gone live unchecked.

Or is it just a bulk content operation, all about getting clicks for monetization through Affiliate links or Ads? Well, in that case, you are going to need to rethink your business model.

SEO Insights for “Does the content have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?”

You are making your page easier to read for the User. The User doesn’t care about your business model. They want your content to educate or entertain them.

SEO Actions for “Does the content have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?”

Look at your page, the competitors, and what is different. For example, if your site is a publisher making money from ads, it could be hard to reduce the ads. That means moving to more of a newsletter ad model, subscription, or affiliate model, but that’s a more significant decision than just SEO.

Does content display well for mobile devices when viewed on them?

Two versions of this post viewed at Laptop 1080P and iPhone SE Mobile showing the change in layout

SEO Insights for “Does content display well for mobile devices when viewed on them?”

An increase in the importance of Page Experience, Core Web Vitals, and Mobile Usability is a possible part of this release. Google has talked about this since 2020, delayed it due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, and released its Page Experience focus in the summer of 2021, but it didn’t have an impact at that time. But they have built the industrial-scale technology so this update might include that.

Again if this Broad Core Algorithm Update has focused on what Google was flagging in June 2021 around Core Web Vitals and Mobile, then this Core Update might just be bringing all the Metrics into play.

SEO Actions for “Does content display well for mobile devices when viewed on them?”

  • Check Google Search Console > Performance > Devices tab. 
  • Has the drop happened on Mobile devices mainly?
  • Mobile usability showing Poor URLs

Check the Google Search Console > Page Experience Reports.

Have you a lot of popular URLs that are measured as Poor?

Are your popular URLs showing Poor Mobile Usability?

If so, that’s a good place to start, as Google has been talking this up in the Google news on the Search Algorithm for the last 2 years.

Comparative Questions To Ask Of Your Pages (+)

Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?

SEO Insights for “Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?”

This whole area is getting into the “science of information” and “machine learning”, outside of most marketers, site owners, and even SEO’s experience.

This is related to the “decision trees” and machine learning concepts of

What has this got to do with SEO,

Yes, this is complex, but what do you think a search algorithm is? It combines information theory, decision trees, and machine learning.

SEO Action for “Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?”

What new information does your content on your landing page add to Google’s index on this the topic (corpus)?

Something New? Or nothing new?

Guess which is more likely to be surfaced in a significant algorithm update?

Does the content seem to be serving the genuine interests of visitors to the site, or does it seem to exist solely by someone attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?

SEO Insights for “Does the content seem to be serving the genuine interests of visitors to the site or does it seem to exist solely by someone attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?”

This is a warning to don’t spam Google. Now Google has said for a long time, “would you take this action if search engine didn’t exist” link LINK?

SEO Actions for “Does the content seem to be serving the genuine interests of visitors to the site or does it seem to exist solely by someone attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?”

What was the audience of this page? What do your transaction and service metrics tell you? Does your audience like it? Maybe this core update has included more weight to the user metrics than before. Work on improving those.

Could Your Drop-In Google Search KPIs be due to something else?

Other things to check to make sure this drop isn’t a false positive on this broad core algorithm update.

False Positive Google Update Checklist

Many times, a client has told Sitelynx that their web agency said “there was a Google update,” which caused the drop in web traffic.

Before you can say that, you need to check the following items before deciding on Google core updates being the problem.

SEO Signal GroupThings To Check
ContentChanged title tags lately?
Short-form
Few pictures and no video
No links to other pages in your body copy
No authority links
LinksNegative SEO
Paid links
Link Spam
UsersEngagement rates for the pages(GA4)
User sharing of your pages
TechnologySoftware updates to your Content Management System
Plugin/Extension Updates
Google Search Console Coverage issues
Domain Expired
TrustSSL expired
Has the site been hacked?
False Positive Google Update Checklist

Google Core Update Flowchart

Another approach to seeing if this Core Update has really impacted your site is to follow this useful flow chart provided by aleydasolis.com. This very well-respected and practiced SEO has the following stepped approach to dealing with the results of an update.

What to do when hit by a Google Core Update Flowchart from Aleyda Solis

Please check out her other SEO Flowcharts here:

Google Board Core Update Summary – What To Do And When For Your Site

  • Review your metrics in Google Search Console > Performance Report
  • Fix anything that is broken in the Google Search Console > Coverage Report & Page Experience Report
  • Improve your content following all the points above
  • Track and Monitor for improvements

Graham Hansell

About the author

Graham Hansell has been planning, managing, and delivering SEO through Sitelynx since 1996, 2 years before Google was founded in 1998. His SEO experience is in 13 different languages across 54 countries for over 200 clients producing 10’s millions of dollars worth of additional sales and leads.
He is also a Course Director at the Chartered Institute of Marketing in Search Engine Marketing Planning, SEO, PPC and Google Analytics. He also contributes expertise to the Chartered Institure of Marketing Podcasts and Webinars.
He has developed his frameworks for digital marketing measurement (DAARTS), Analytics Training (DECIDE Analytics), PPC (DEPLOY PPC), and SEO (DECLUTTER SEO).
But first and foremost, he is a practitioner and concentrates on the 20/80 rule - the 20% that has the 80% impact.
For Sitelynx, he now focuses on SEO, PPC, and Google Analytics 4 consulting and training.
You can follow his insights on Analytics, PPC, and SEO on LinkedIn & Twitter.

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  1. Thank you, Graham, for this very informative article, we were aware of the Google update but your recommendations and advice have been noted and I've already sent it through to my SEO team to implement your suggestions.

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