A few days ago (at time of writing), Google released another core algorithm update.
Simply termed the “October 2023 core update”, the changes Google has actually made to its algorithm are somewhat unclear, as is always the case when it comes to core algorithm updates.
The rollout began on October 5th, and Google says it may “take up to 2 weeks to complete”, so it might take a little while before you start seeing the update’s impact on your website’s metrics.
We’ve put together a guide on what we know about the Google October 2023 core algorithm update and what your site can do to adjust to it.
What is the October 2023 core algorithm update?
As ever, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what has changed when it comes to the October 2023 Google core algorithm update.
The search status dashboard for the update doesn’t give any more information, either, merely pointing users towards Google’s guidelines when it comes to the regular core updates that are part of the search engine’s DNA.
Said guidelines can, however, give us some useful information about what we should expect from core updates.
According to those guidelines, Google’s core updates represent “significant, broad changes to [its] search algorithms and systems”.
These updates are designed, Google says, to aid in its mission of presenting “helpful and reliable results for searchers”.
Google says that you should think of core updates as akin to updating a list of the 100 best movies; if you make that list in 2021, then revise it in 2024, the list is naturally going to be different as some entries depart and others join.
Core updates are similar; Google says that the updates are designed to help sites that deserve to rank more highly to do so, meaning that even pages that are performing well may find themselves performing less well as deserving sites get shunted up the list, so to speak.
Will your site be affected?
It’s very hard to say with absolute certainty whether your site will be affected by the Google October 2023 core algorithm update.
Some website owners appear to have seen significant changes with regards to their numbers. Some are celebrating higher traffic, while others appear to have been hit hard by the change.
Since Google doesn’t reveal its specific update criteria (and with good reason, since sites could then use those criteria to game the system), it’s not easy to know how to adapt to any potential change, either.
However, there are some things you can do to try and get to the bottom of why your site might have been hit by the algorithm update, as well as to diagnose potential solutions.
Try and see which pages have been hit the hardest by the update. Is there a specific pattern you’re noticing with those pages? Do they pertain to a certain subject, for instance, or do they all evidence a particular writing style?
By figuring out which of your pages appear to be performing worse after the update, you can try and make positive changes to your site to recover your metrics, although you should bear in mind that these efforts aren’t guaranteed to result in an uptick for you.
What can you do to prepare for algorithm updates?
While you can’t know exactly when an algorithm update is coming or what it will do for your site, there are some things you can do in order to prepare for future algorithm updates.
Here are some of the website best practices we’ve identified when it comes to making sure your site is Google core algorithm update-proof (to the extent it can be).
- Ensure your content is helpful. First and foremost, Google’s core algorithm updates are, the company says, designed to ensure that helpful content is seen by the people who need it. As such, you should make sure that the content you’re creating is, in fact, helpful to people, and doesn’t just exist to fulfil a niche or to target a specific SEO term because you think it’ll get clicks.
- Write content for humans. It’s not a good idea to try and construct your content to maximise SEO appeal, because that will make it less helpful. Think about who you want to read your content and write it for them. This will help you to appear more trustworthy and authoritative, which are also important metrics by which Google judges the suitability of content for its search engine algorithm.
- Demonstrate authority. If you can show that the people writing your content are authorities in their field, then you should stand a better chance of being largely unaffected by core algorithm updates. Demonstrating authority involves displaying clear, prominent profile pages with author bylines on them, as well as plenty of links to that author’s previous work.
- Stay within your niche. The worst thing you can do is to try and branch out into a niche in which you have demonstrated no authority or expertise. A movie website, for instance, shouldn’t suddenly start talking about cooking (unless, of course, relevance to movies can be demonstrated). Google doesn’t like SEO dilettantism, so whoever your site is aimed at, make sure you’re principally writing content for that audience.
- Try not to feel victimised. When an update does negatively impact your traffic, as Google points out in its guidelines, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve violated Google’s guidelines. It could simply mean that a deserving website is taking its rightful place in Google’s rankings, and that necessarily means existing sites might suffer. You might not need to change anything; just keep doing what you’re doing and things might level out in the long run.