One thing you can always rely on is that just when you think you’ve got to grips with Google’s algorithms, the search giant will change the goalposts yet again.
In fact, in 2020 alone, Google made over 4,500 changes to the way its software reads content on the internet.
While these changes are always aimed at improving user experiences and making the platform easier to use, it’s a never-ending rollercoaster ride for businesses that are trying to get the most out of their SEO.
This year, there have been a whole host of new changes, but we’re going to discuss three in particular that could have a huge impact on the kind of content you write and the way you communicate with your audience.
August 2022: Helpful content update
Google’s helpful content update was introduced to reward content that helps or informs people, rather than text that’s simply designed to rank well in a Google search. Google provided a list of 15 questions for you to ask of your content to ensure it’s being created with human readers in mind. Online education materials, arts and entertainment, shopping and tech-related content were the most affected by the change. Although the impact was relatively small, we think the update represents a step in the right direction for content creators who are looking to provide value for their readers.
Google tells us that this update was completed on 9th September 2022.
September 2022: Broad core update
A broad core algorithm update takes place when Google launches a change to its ‘core’ search ranking algorithms with the aim of improving answers to a user’s search terms.
September’s core update is the second of 2022 so far and was launched a few days after the helpful content update was completed, leaving pretty much no time for search marketers to catch their collective breath (or analyse the impact of the helpful content update). Although it was considered to be less impactful than previous core updates, the changes hit quickly, and users were reminded to ensure that the content they’re creating is useful for their readers and in sync with their recent updates.
September 2022: Product reviews update
Google has completed five product review updates overall, with two taking place in 2022 (up to the time of writing). The aim of this rollout was to reward high quality, English-language product reviews by promoting them higher up in search result rankings. Uniquely, this update was launched before the September core update was completed.
If your business has been impacted by any of these changes, it’s worth reviewing your output to make sure you are putting in the required effort to update and improve the content on your website and create pages, blogs, and other assets that are as useful as possible for your target customers or clients.
UPDATE: Google launches yet another update within days of this article being published!
Yep, that’s right – just a couple of days after we shared this round-up, Google announced yet more changes to its algorithm. This time, the search engine decided to roll out its first spam-related update in nearly a year.
October 2022: Spam update
It took about 42 hours for Google to roll out this spam update in full, meaning it was complete by 21st October. Here’s what the update means, in Google’s own words:
“While Google’s automated systems to detect search spam are constantly operating, we occasionally make notable improvements to how they work. When we do, we refer to this as a spam update and share when they happen on our list of Google Search ranking updates. For example, SpamBrain is our AI-based spam-prevention system. From time-to-time, we improve that system to make it better at spotting spam and to help ensure it catches new types of spam. Sites that see a change after a spam update should review our spam policies to ensure they are complying with those. Sites that violate our policies may rank lower in results or not appear in results at all. Making changes may help a site improve if our automated systems learn over a period of months that the site complies with our spam policies.”
Responses to the update have been mixed, with many SEOs experiencing large ranking and/or website traffic changes despite following best practices, and raising concerns that the SERPs have been serving up less accurate results. It will be interesting to see whether the listings begin to settle down in the coming weeks, or whether the update has indeed hit human-written content sites the hardest (which would be against what the update was supposed to achieve!).
Drop us a line if you need help navigating Google’s recent algorithm updates or coming up with SEO-friendly text that will stay the course.