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Selma MrkulicNovember 7, 20234 min read

Recapping Google’s October surprise: A search algorithm update

Much like a haunted house on a ghostly autumn night, search engine ranking algorithms have become a maze of eerie twists and turns. The fate of your website — and seemingly all your digital marketing — relies on you not getting scared off by these seasonal shifts in search.

Google rolled out yet another core algorithmic update last month, one of the many new modifications from the seemingly endless Google Ads Carousel of Refreshes.

Google has made three search ranking system enhancements in 2023. The first core update was in March, followed by the second in August, and the latest being this one in October.

This update has been rolled out over the past few weeks and there are quite a few key things to remember and look out for as the algorithm adjusts. Like the prior updates, the changes take a handful of weeks to be fully implemented and it’s completely normal to see search rankings seesaw back and forth. With that said, patience is key as these changes come into play. Scary, but essential.

Let’s break this down into 3 key parts:

  1. What are core algorithms and what is the purpose of these updates?
  2. What’s important to keep in mind as these changes occur?
  3. What to do if you are seeing fluctuations in ranking?

First things first – what exactly is Google’s core algorithm? The core algorithm is actually a collection of algorithms that interpret signals from webpages (e.g., keywords, links, etc.), with the goal of ranking the content that best answers a search query. Basically, its purpose is to ensure the searcher is being presented with the most relevant and quality content around the keywords they are using in their search. Great, so now that we know the definition of what it is, the next question is what do these core updates do?

Well, Google’s goal in launching these updates is to enhance search relevance and quality along with general user experience. According to Google, the changes are about improving how their systems assess content overall.

It’s important to remember that these core updates happen a few times during the year (on top of all the other updates that are continuously occurring) and that each update isn’t always exactly the same, often targeting different aspects of the search algorithm that have assorted outcomes on the way website pages rank and are impacted. A consistent factor that does remain the same throughout all these updates though is the need to persevere and understand how they might affect your ads!

Now, some sites might increase in ranking that were previously being under-rewarded while others might face a ranking drop or not be affected much at all. If you are seeing fluctuations, it’s key to assess the differences and identify potential areas for improvement. Also, there’s no need to panic, taking proactive steps will help steer those ranking back towards the right direction.

So, what can you do to recover if your program encounters a drop in ad rankings?

  • Quality content: Google places extreme importance on having relevant and high-quality content to keep/improve rankings. If you are seeing user session times shortening or outright decreasing, then this might be an indication that your site content is not being very engaging for visitors. Take a hard look at any recent changes you might have made to your site and look at how your competitors are running their content.
  • Keyword check: Check to see if the strength of your ads has changed and ensure your keywords and landing pages strongly correlate to the ads they are associated with in order to have your ads meet Google’s excellent status standing and increase the likelihood of your ads showing and ranking higher. Prioritize keywords that are likely to drive conversions and reach the audience you want to target.
  • User experience: Google considers how easy it is for users to navigate your site and landing page. Factors like whether your page is mobile-friendly, server page loading time, how easy your site is to maneuver, and security & safety are a few key components to this potion.
  • E-E-A-T: What’s EEAT? This is a principle Google adheres to which stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trust. Experience: How knowledgeable are you on the topic and how much experience do you have with it? Expertise: Different topics require different levels and types of expertise to be trustworthy so the level of skill/ knowledge a creator has on a topic is taken into consideration, Authoritativeness: Is your content providing value and are you looked at as a good source in your industry? Trust: Are you protecting user information and being ethical? Is your page accurate, honest, safe, and reliable?
  • Monitor traffic: Monitoring sessions, bounce rate, and traffic through Google Analytics is a great way to spot indicators and find a story in what the numbers are telling you about how users engage with your site.
  • Stay in the know: Monitor Industry news and subscribe to trustworthy and reliable sources that provide information on what is going on in the field. I’d recommend influencers and content creators like Adriaan Dekker, John Moran, and Ed Leake.

In the end, these changes are inevitable. The most important thing search marketers can do is to focus on adaptability. Being proactive, observant, staying informed, and ensuring your ads are up to par with best practices will greatly assist with keeping those rankings in line!

As the leaves fall and weather changes, remember that in the ever-changing realm of algorithms, adapting to the digital landscape will be your token to a successful online presence. Happy optimizing, and may your conversions be as sweet as your leftover Halloween candy!


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Selma Mrkulic

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