On July 12, Google announced the completion of its July 2021 core update. Like any other core update, SEO specialists have reported fluctuations in traffic and their SERP rankings. Below, we’ve broken down the primary features and content types affected by this rollout, as well as action items you can take to stabilize traffic.
What is a Core Update? A “broad core update” refers to a type of update to Google’s algorithm that is not specific to any region, language, or website category. These, and other types of updates, roll out on a regular basis as the search engine improves at assessing content that serves the best answers to user queries. Although specific details are typically sparse from Goole, they noted that the July update “introduces changes across a wide range of the indexing and ranking processes.” Unusual in this case, is that Google rolled out two core updates in consecutive months, June and July 2021, due to some features not being fully ready by their June deadline.
What Effects are SEO Specialists Observing? Historically, as core updates roll out, SEO specialists and webmasters have observed their page rank performance go up or down, unrelated to any content changes. SEMRush reported higher than average levels of SERP volatility in July, with the effects especially felt on July 2nd and 9th.
However, according to data SEMRush compiled for Search Engine Land, the July update showed significantly less ranking volatility compared to June. Anecdotally, the search community has not come to any conclusions of the effects on any single category of the site, but some changes that have been noticed (good and bad) include:
• Stable rankings for sites with quality backlink and on-page SEO practices
• A decrease in same-domain ranks, especially among sites with multiple
• Incorporation of more Google widgets, like People Also Ask (PAA) query
• Increase in high-ranking low quality/spam search results/link selling,
although this could improve as the company refines its two-part spam
update that rolled out last month.
What Action Items Should You Take? It’s important to note, that if your organic ranking drops following a core update, that does not indicate there is something wrong with your page, and you should not take knee-jerk action to “fix” anything. These days, Google updates cover a wide range of improvements all at once, so there is no single quick-fix you can immediately undergo, especially based on unproven anecdotal evidence from web forums. In a blog post, the Google team writes:
“There’s nothing wrong with pages that may perform less well in a core update. They haven’t violated our webmaster guidelines nor been subjected to manual or algorithmic action, as can happen to pages that do violate those guidelines. In fact, there’s nothing in a core update that targets specific pages or sites. Instead, the changes are about improving how our systems assess content overall. These changes may cause some pages that were previously under-rewarded to do better.”
According to Google and other third-party experts, the best action you can take if you see your rankings dip post-updates is to focus on content. Remember E-A-T: expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Content that provides original information and insightful analysis, including the headline and page title, will always rank higher. You also must consider presentation, and prioritize user experience on desktop and mobile devices. Overall, continue to monitor traffic for at least two weeks following the update as Google engineers make adjustments. Only then, if you see results you’re not happy with, should you start making changes.