If you’ve been holding your breath in anticipation of the next Google Search algorithm update, you can exhale—the August 2023 Google Core Update dropped on Tuesday, August 22.
It follows Google’s March 2023 broad core update, and we can expect similar disruption across the search marketing landscape.
These broad core updates always seem to cause upheaval within the digital marketing industry by shaking up search results. Some pages suddenly rise to the top of SERPs, while others inexplicably plummet, much to the dismay of site owners and SEOs everywhere.
From wait-and-see approaches to frenzied, no-holds-barred optimization efforts, site owners react in a variety of ways whenever Google updates its algorithm.
But what should you do? How can you best navigate this disruption to ensure your site doesn’t experience a drop in visibility, traffic, and revenue?
Before we answer these vital questions, it’s important that we start with an understanding of how exactly the August 2023 Google core update is changing things.
The unsatisfactorily straightforward answer is this: We just don’t know yet.
Google’s broad core updates can take up to two weeks to roll out, and the changes you see within the first 48 or 72 hours may prove to be transitive, dissipating as the rollout concludes.
If that doesn’t sound particularly useful to you, well, you’re right.
Google doesn’t release detailed explanations to accompany these updates, so it’s up to professionals throughout the industry to share intelligence and cobble together an idea of the update’s scope, angle, and impact.
Without much to go on, we can safely assume that this update, at least in part, is geared toward improving Google results for searchers in accordance with Google’s latest guidance.
Fundamentally, Google’s primary goal is to provide value to users by delivering relevant, informative results that include high-quality content written for the purpose of helping people, as opposed to ranking highly on SERPs. We can expect the August 2023 update to help Google Search better achieve this goal by surfacing practical results for searchers.
As we learn more about this algorithm change over the next two weeks, we’ll update this page with the latest confirmed details to help you stay informed.
It’s virtually impossible to anticipate how a Google algorithm update will impact your site’s performance.
But don’t be surprised if you see traffic fluctuations that make your heart race because it’s not something that’s happening to just you—these drops or increases are typically seen across thousands or even millions of sites.
Generally speaking, you should expect your pages that lack quality content or don’t adhere to Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines to see declines in rankings and traffic. On the other hand, the pages you’ve optimized using Google’s current guidance regarding helpful content, Core Web Vitals, and the like may actually be rewarded with greater visibility.
There’s also a decent chance that your site isn’t impacted. Unfortunately, there’s just no way to know until the rollout is complete, so sit tight and keep an eye on your analytics.
Before you get into problem-solving mode, it’s vital that you take a seat and assess whether any rankings drops are attributable to aspects of your site that are within your control.
Otherwise, you could allocate considerable time and resources to developing solutions that have no corresponding problems.
There are plenty of factors Google uses to rank pages that have little or nothing to do with the pages themselves.
For example, relevance is a critical element that Google uses to rank results. It’s possible that one or more of your high-ranking pages will experience a drop should the August 2023 broad core Google algorithm update alter Google’s evaluation of relevance—particularly on SERPs for specific, long-tail keywords.
Does this mean that Google thinks your content is thin or your UX is deficient? Of course not.
In this hypothetical, the rankings decline is the result of an algorithm change aimed at providing more valuable results for searchers—specifically, those users who are looking for content largely similar to, yet still distinct from, the content on your site.
Should you find yourself in such a situation, your best course of action—and Google’s published guidance—is to do nothing.
When performance issues begin impacting your conversions and revenue from digital channels, sitting on your hands might sound like the last thing you should do.
But keep in mind that such fluctuations are common and often resolve themselves over the course of the rollout. For example, you may find that the traffic you lost two days into the Google algorithm update returns by the end of the first week as things stabilize.
A wait-and-see approach can help you avoid chasing your tail, though it may be tough to stomach your rankings declines in the meantime.
Depending on the unique circumstances surrounding your business, idling in the face of traffic fluctuations may not be an option.
For example, if Google just refined SERPs for keywords that matter to your brand, you’d likely want to recoup some of the traffic you’ve lost.
There are several approaches you could take, including reworking existing content to incorporate related keywords or publishing new content targeting topics adjacent to the material your site currently covers.
In addition, if you can readily identify technical or UX issues on the pages negatively impacted by the update, you’ll likely benefit from addressing them.
That said, resist the temptation to react in a frenzy.
First, be patient and wait to see whether the new issues are part of the typical rollout turmoil and clear up after a few days, or if they’re here to stay. Then, take a measured approach and start by focusing your efforts on the items that are easiest to address and will have the most significant impact.
No one wants to find themselves trying to put the pieces back together after the latest broad core update. It’s a situation to be avoided for a number of reasons, but here’s perhaps the most important: Making site improvements or altering your strategy after an update is reactionary, and it’s always better to make site or content changes with a clear, proactive goal or solution in mind.
Although we don’t know exactly how the August 2023 update will reshape search results, nor to what extent, it’s unlikely that we’ll be shocked at the state of rankings when the dust finally settles.
Regardless of how you feel about Google and its algorithm updates, there’s no denying that the guidance from the Google Search team is clear and useful. As mentioned previously, if your site is aimed at helping people enrich their lives, then Google wants to reward you with the top spots on SERPs.
On the other hand, if you’ve been dabbling in black-hat SEO tactics to selfishly and manipulatively push your pages up the search rankings, you should expect to see your results drastically diminished with each successive Google core update.
But if you’re honest and straightforward, like the vast majority of site owners and digital marketers, there are some steps you can take to stay ahead of these updates.
By continually optimizing your site—especially your revenue-driving pages—in line with Google’s guidance regarding helpful content, technical best practices, Core Web Vitals, and other aspects of SEO, you can put your site in the best possible position ahead of any Google core update.
This isn’t to say you can avoid rankings and traffic turbulence altogether, but consistent and proactive SEO work will help keep your site on Google’s good side by maximizing its value to users, which in turn will drive KPI improvements.
Short on bandwidth? Fortunately, you don’t have to build an in-house team to achieve stunning results through organic search. The right partner can make all the difference.
A proactive approach to SEO is key to minimizing the site turmoil you’ll experience after each Google core update. At VELOX Media, our ROI-focused organic search experts use leading-edge research and proven techniques to drive exponential growth for enterprise clients.
Each tailored campaign from VELOX leverages world-class content and intelligent syndication for link building that can give your brand the visibility it needs to drive new revenue and scale to achieve sustained search engine dominance.
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