Google Core Update September 2022: What You Need to Know
What was included in the Google September Core Update?
Google released two updates that finished rolling out on September 26th, 2022. An update to the Product Review Update, and a Core Update. Core updates are broad changes Google makes to its search engine algorithm.
Unlike specifically named updates like the Product Review Update, there’s typically no specific guidance for Core Updates other than to see if your site is following all the latest best practices.
It can be hard to differentiate what is affected by the Core Update and what is affected by the Product Review Update. They both finished updating at the same time, so separating between which update is affecting your site can be tricky.
How to tell if your site has been affected by the Core Update or the Product Review Update
First, you should make sure you’ve connected your website to Google Search Console and Google Analytics. This way you can see if you are experiencing any drop in organic impressions, clicks, traffic, your Page Experience scores, or any website errors.
The September Core Update started rolling out on September 12th and finished on September 26th while the Product Review Update started rolling out on September 20th before finishing on September 26th, 2022.
So if you started experiencing some volatility in your Google Search Console impressions and clicks between the 12th and before the Product Review Update started rolling out on the 20th, you can assume the Core Update was most likely causing this.
If you don’t have enough traffic to notice changes, you should follow our guidance on how to make sure your site is following Google’s best practices for page experience, product reviews, and helpful content.
You can also use some other clues to see what is causing changes. The Product Review Update by Google seems to be a correction to some mistakes they made earlier according to observations by SEO expert Glenn Gabe:
So while the Product Review Update was making fixes, then what was the Core Update doing? When Google makes a big change or wants website owners to start focusing on something different, they provide guidance on what that is. For the Product Review Update, they provided a list of questions to ask yourself, and for the Page Experience Update, they provided Core Web Vitals, and ways to measure performance.
Since they aren’t providing any specific type of guidance for this update, most likely it is continuing to evolve the fundamental importance of site performance, along with the new product review and “helpful content” standards.
Google has been pretty clear about the direction they are trying to take their search ranking algorithm. They want websites that load fast, have a great user-friendly experience, avoid things that visitors hate like pop-ups (“intrusive interstitials”), and have helpful content made for humans, not search engines.
By examining all the publicly announced updates in the last year or two alone, we can get a strong idea of what to focus on to make our website stand out from the millions of sites in the future.
Updates evolve over time, take for example the Product Review update which has had 5 releases.
Having a quality website (“Page Experience update”) combined with quality content (“Helpful Content update” and “Product Review updates”) is only going to continue to have stricter requirements as Google really elevates internet standards.
Although some of these updates can have negative effects on certain sites, it will also largely cut down on the spammy, low-quality sites with terrible user experiences like slow-load times and bloated with pop-ups. This is the direction Google wants to move towards.
Even if your site has somehow managed to be unaffected by past updates with low-quality content and poor site performance, it doesn't mean that you’re in the clear moving forward.
Danny Sullivan from Google points out that Google will eventually figure it out and you are liable to notice it in Core Updates as they make tweaks.
It’s important to focus on the long-term, by creating real value for humans as opposed to trying to game the algorithm. It can take months to recover from a major drop in rankings, so taking the time to make sure you build your website the right way from the start will pay off.
With over 65% of sites not passing Core Web Vitals (ahrefs), or following best practices from the Product Review and Helpful Content updates, you have a chance to stand out from the competition and increase your rankings today. You can make your website benefit from each update instead of worrying about being penalized or “hit” by an algo update.
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