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May 9, 2024

Google Algorithm Updates 2023 to Present

Google regularly releases updates to its algorithms and systems, which affect how websites are ranked in organic search results. 

These updates can address issues ranging from the relevance and quality of website content, to the user experience, link quality, and more. They aim to improve the accuracy and usefulness of search results for users. Google periodically rolls out major core updates and smaller, more frequent changes that fine-tune the search experience. 

For website owners, understanding and adapting to these updates is crucial for maintaining or improving search engine visibility. Read more to learn about Google updates from 2023 and 2024 so far. 

March 2023 Core Update

This was the first core update of the year, six months after the last one in September 2022. Google makes several of these updates per year, with broad changes to their algorithms and systems.

Core update advice

You might find pages on your website to be negatively impacted by the update; this doesn’t necessarily mean there is anything wrong with them; it just means that the new update has allowed Google to resort the search results based on updated data. They compare it to a list of the top 100 movies; over time, a movie might change position—not because it changes, but simply the number of other new movies available to add to the list. Comparatively, you may find other web pages are doing better than they were prior to the update.

In the past, Google has provided a list of questions to consider if you’ve been negatively impacted by a core update

April 2023

Product Reviews Update

This update aimed to increase the ranking of review content that is very in-depth in comparison to other reviews of the same product and provides “insightful analysis and original research, content written by experts or enthusiasts who know the topic well.”

If you were negatively impacted by this update, you will want to revisit the content on the page and edit it to provide more detail and unique insights. In the past, Google provided an entire helpful blog on ‘How to high-quality reviews’, we’d recommend reviewing it for future review content.

Google has said that going forward review updates will be happening at a regular and ongoing pace and will not be officially announced.

August 2023

Core Update

Google makes several core updates per year that provide a range of broad changes to its algorithms and systems.

Core update advice

You might find pages on your website to be negatively impacted by the update; this doesn’t necessarily mean there is anything wrong with them; it just means that the new update has allowed Google to resort the search results based on updated data. In the past, Google has provided a list of questions to consider if you’ve been negatively impacted by a core update.

September 2023

Helpful Content Update

Google provides ongoing Helpful Content Updates to the system, targeted at reducing the rankings of content created primarily to rank well rather than educate or help users. The goal is to promote high-quality content that is written with an authentic human audience in mind.

If this update has negatively impacted you, consider your content creation practices and read through Google’s guidelines on creating people-first content.

October 2023

Spam Update

The goal of this update was to clean up several types of cloaking, hacked, auto-generated or scraped spam that were reported. It primarily focused on websites in Turkish, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Hindi, Chinese, and other languages.

October 2023 

Core Update

Google makes several core updates per year that provide a range of broad changes to its algorithms and systems.

Core update advice

You might find pages on your website to be negatively impacted by the update; this doesn’t necessarily mean there is anything wrong with them; it just means that the new update has allowed Google to resort the search results based on updated data. In the past, Google has provided a list of questions to consider if you’ve been negatively impacted by a core update.

November 2023

Core Update

Google makes several core updates per year that provide a range of broad changes to its algorithms and systems. This update focused on an improvement to a different core system than the one targeted in October.

Core update advice

You might find pages on your website to be negatively impacted by the update; this doesn’t necessarily mean there is anything wrong with them; it just means that the new update has allowed Google to resort the search results based on updated data. In the past, Google has provided a list of questions to consider if you’ve been negatively impacted by a core update.

December 2023

Openness Local Search Update

It was noted late in the year that Google had begun to rank businesses that were currently open higher in local pack rankings; this was confirmed in December.

If you notice you have been impacted in your Google Business listing, this may be why. It does not necessarily have a negative impact; it simply reflects real-time user behaviour.

March 2024

Spam Update

Google rolled out an update that classified two categories as spam: scaled content creation (large amounts created with the aim of gaining organic rankings) and purchasing expired domains and repurposing with the “intention of boosting the search ranking of low-quality content”

March 2024

Core Update

Google makes several core updates per year that provide a range of broad changes to its algorithms and systems. 

Core update advice

You might find pages on your website to be negatively impacted by the update; this doesn’t necessarily mean there is anything wrong with them; it just means that the new update has allowed Google to resort the search results based on updated data. In the past, Google has provided a list of questions to consider if you’ve been negatively impacted by a core update.

May 2024

Site reputation abuse

A subcategory of the March 2024 Spam Update, which was rolled out on May 5, is Site Reputation Abuse. This subcategory targets what is being dubbed ‘Parasite SEO’, wherein low-quality content is hosted on a third-party site in an attempt to take advantage of the hosting site’s reputation and build backlinks. Google has given two months ‘ advance notice of this spam policy update as of May 5th.

The policy states that “third-party content produced primarily for ranking purposes and without close oversight of a website owner to be spam.” This clarifies that sponsored content is still permitted without penalties as long as it follows the standard rules for content creation that Google recommends—in other words, continue writing quality content for humans first, and you’ll be okay.

The State of Organic Search Results in 2024

This year seems like it’s going to be a big one for updates focused on low-quality content. Complaints about search results have been occurring for many years but with trends like Reddit-specific queries dominating results, the pressure to make improvements has never been higher.

Google’s Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, recently posted on X saying, “There’s so much coming that I don’t want to say buckle up because those who are making good, people-first content should be fine. But that said, there’s a lot of improvements on the way.”

Ongoing Google Updates

As seen from 2023, we have many more updates ahead of us for the remainder of 2024, including at least 3 or 4 more core updates. As with each update, Google will usually provide resources and information on how you can react to evolve alongside the search engine. If you find your website has been negatively impacted by an update, follow the advice provided, and within six months, you’ll quite often see a rebound.

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