Image depicting a laptop with the Google logo
October 16, 2023

Google Rolls Out October 2023 Core Update & Spam Update

Did you think Google update season was over? 

The SEO and digital marketing world has been in a frenzy in the wake of Google’s latest search algorithm updates, which are causing considerable ranking volatility. 

Per usual, there’s confusion among SEOs struggling to reconcile the traffic fluctuations they see with Google’s public guidance. To top it off, there’s elevated concern this time because Google released two updates simultaneously. 

If you’re on edge about how these latest Google updates could impact your site performance or how they have already, read on for answers to some questions commonly raised during rollouts such as these.

What Is a Core Update?

Core updates are broad changes to Google’s search algorithms and systems that decide how to rank content on results pages. In short, core updates are designed to help Google better assess and rank content. 

What “better” means, of course, is entirely up to Google. But their definition is anything but arbitrary. 

Google aims to provide users with the best search experience possible. That means delivering the most helpful, highest-quality results in as few clicks as possible. 

As such, Google routinely updates Search to ensure it’s providing the utmost value for searchers. Google doesn’t announce every one of these updates, but the ones with the most significant impact are announced as core updates.

Wait—Didn’t Google Just Release a Core Update?

If this recent update gives you deja vu, you’re not alone. 

The August 2023 broad core update started rolling out on August 22 and finished on September 7. 

We usually see core updates from Google every few months. Sometimes, they happen more frequently, and sometimes, they happen less frequently. 

On average, these rollouts take about two weeks to complete, and rankings volatility tends to dissipate shortly thereafter. However, if the update significantly impacted your site, it could take longer for you to recover.

In fact, affected content may not recover until the next core update, according to Google—but that assumes site owners work in the interim to improve their content in accordance with Google’s guidance.  

How Do I Recover From Declines in Rankings and Traffic?

If your content takes a rankings hit from a broad core update, you shouldn’t necessarily expect it to recover at all, even if you work to enhance its quality or better align it with Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines.

Google recommends that affected site owners sit tight and wait to see whether these fluctuations resolve themselves. Sometimes, that happens. But if the latest broad core update is clearly costing you valuable conversions, how long can you afford to wait?

Keep in mind that falling behind in the rankings doesn’t necessarily mean there’s something wrong with your content, especially if you aren’t seeing penalties or manual actions from Google. 

Sometimes, newer, better content will simply outperform yours. Or, as Google says, “If there’s more deserving content, that will continue to rank well with our systems.”

But when you see significant fluctuations stemming from a core update, it’s a prime opportunity to dig deep into your content, perform a competitive analysis, and identify optimization opportunities.

What is the Purpose of the Spam Update?

Reducing spam is a key element of Google’s effort to provide a more valuable search experience. To achieve this, automated systems operate around the clock to detect search spam, and occasionally, Google will improve these systems by rolling out a spam update.

According to Google, the October 2023 spam update is in response to reports from community members regarding several types of spam in a few specific languages.

Table depicting common types of spam and languages as identified by Google in the latest update.

The spam also appeared in other languages, but Google only listed those five. However, Google has clarified that this latest spam update will impact sites in all languages.

In the October 2023 Spam Update announcement, Google thanked users for their spam reports and emphasized the importance of this feedback in informing and prioritizing solutions. 

Google also said work is already underway on the next spam update, so be on the lookout for an announcement of that rollout in the not-too-distant future. As always, we’ll keep you updated with information about all future Google updates

How Can I Insulate My Sites From Rankings Fluctuations?

To reiterate, Google’s algorithm and system updates aren’t about your site or content—they’re designed to provide users with a better search experience. 

You should never expect your search rankings to remain static. In fact, if you don’t keep up with Google’s evolving guidance and employ it to improve the quality of your content, you should expect to see fluctuations with each new update.

Just as we optimize our sites for performance, Google is constantly improving its rankings tools and methodology.  

With that in mind, here’s how you can optimize your content to minimize negative impacts and even improve your rankings after every Google update.

Core Updates

Google wants to reward the best content with the top search rankings. Remember, it’s not about you—it’s about the user and whether they’re getting the most value out of each search.

The simplest and arguably most effective way to prevent rankings fluctuations is to follow Google’s content creation guidance. This guidance incorporates E-E-A-T along with many other vital points.

For starters, you should regularly go through your site content and ask yourself some crucial questions. 

You can review the full list at the link above, but these questions include “Does the content provide original information, reporting, research, or analysis?” and “Is the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?”

In addition, here are a few explicit pieces of advice from Google. 

Checklist of Google's recommended advice to create content that aligns with search goals.

You don’t need insider expertise to understand that Google’s core updates will reward sites and pages that adhere to these guidelines, while those that don’t will fall lower—sometimes, much lower—in search results.

Spam Updates

In the vast majority of cases, enterprises and sites employing white-hat SEO techniques will avoid violating Google’s spam policies by default. Even so, the spam policies for Search are worth a read. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with them, take a look at your pages and identify any instances where you may be flirting with a violation.

Image depicting the most common types of spam as identified by Google.

Keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive. You should expect Google to take action against any and every type of spam. 

In addition to the common types of spam covered above, the following behaviors are also grounds for Google to demote or remove your content:

  • Copyright Infringement
  • Selling Counterfeit Goods
  • Actions Resulting in a Court-Ordered Removal
  • Personal Information Exploitation
    • Doxxing
    • Non-Consensual Explicit Personal Images
  • Circumvention of Google Policies
  • Scams and Fraud

Adhering to Google’s spam policies is arguably more important than following their content guidelines. 

Because creating helpful, high-quality content is essential to capturing new revenue and driving growth for your business, you should follow Google’s content creation guidance to the fullest extent possible. 

But even if you don’t, your site will still appear in search results (although you’ll miss out on revenue and see your ROI drop). 

On the other hand, violating Google’s spam policies will send you to the bottom of search results or prevent your site from appearing altogether—making it virtually impossible to grow your online revenue.

VELOX Takes the Guesswork Out of SEO

VELOX is the high-touch, ROI-focused partner that can help you stay ahead of the curve and drive exponential growth, even when Google rolls out simultaneous updates.

VELOX’s enterprise digital marketing campaigns exceed client expectations, which is why we’re recognized among the top 3% of digital marketing agencies globally as a Google Premier Partner.

Instead of trying to read the tea leaves after every Google update, contact VELOX today and see what sustained search engine dominance can do for your business.

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