Official Google Advice on Core Update Recovery
Recent core updates, both small and large, have made SEOs clamor for a solution or a fix to the negative effects of the update to their websites. Different theories and hypotheses have been rampant in the SEO industry on how to properly “fix” a website that has been hit by the core updates. This led to Google repeatedly stating that there are no fixes to websites that have been hit by the core updates. But recently, they gave advice on how your site can recover from the core update. Let’s find out.
The problem with most SEOs is that when we get hit with a core update, we immediately assume that a specific page has violated the guidelines or maybe the site was penalized. Google is telling us that when a site that performs less when a core update is rolled out, doesn’t mean that they’ve been penalized since the core update doesn’t target specific pages or sites. The most probable cause would be that through the core update, under-performing websites that have great content have been rewarded for them to perform better. Here’s a great example used in the Google post:
“One way to think of how a core update operates is to imagine you made a list of the top 100 movies in 2015. A few years later in 2019, you refresh the list. It’s going to naturally change. Some new and wonderful movies that never existed before will now be candidates for inclusion. You might also reassess some films and realize they deserved a higher place on the list than they had before. “
Google goes on to reiterate that we don’t need to fix anything, but we can improve the content we put out if our site got hit by the update. The first thing they recommend is to, again, check out their old post about building a high-quality website.
To get us started, they highlighted some guide questions we can use when we create content. They are:
Content and quality questions
- Does the content provide original information, reporting, research or analysis?
- Does the content provide a substantial, complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
- Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
- If the content draws on other sources, does it avoid simply copying or rewriting those sources and instead provide substantial additional value and originality?
- Does the headline and/or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?
- Does the headline and/or page title avoid being exaggerating or shocking in nature?
- Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
- Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
- Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page?
- If you researched the site producing the content, would you come away with an impression that it is well-trusted or widely-recognized as an authority on its topic?
- Is this content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?
- Is the content free from easily-verified factual errors?
- Would you feel comfortable trusting this content for issues relating to your money or your life?
Presentation and production questions
- Is the content free from spelling or stylistic issues?
- Was the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
- Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
- Does the content have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
- Does content display well for mobile devices when viewed on them?
- Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
- Does the content seem to be serving the genuine interests of visitors to the site or does it seem to exist solely by someone attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
The last advice they gave (and I’ve talked about it a couple of times) is for us to read about the Quality Rater Guidelines, specifically about E-A-T. They reiterated again that the rater’s feedbacks are not direct ranking factors, but they do use it as though a person reviewing a restaurant’s service. The raters are the ones that “review” our websites and, in turn, submit the “review” to Google. By reading the QR guidelines and other articles about E-A-T, Google says that it can help us in assessing how our content is performing from an E-A-T perspective.
They also referenced some SEOs that wrote about E-A-T and SEO advice (I recommend you read all of them) which is a delightful surprise for us SEOs. They are:
- E-A-T and SEO, from Marie Haynes
- Google Updates Quality Rater Guidelines Targeting E-A-T, Page Quality & Interstitials, from Jennifer Slegg
- Leveraging E-A-T for SEO Success, presentation from Lily Ray
- Google’s Core Algorithm Updates and The Power of User Studies: How Real Feedback From Real People Can Help Site Owners Surface Website Quality Problems (And More), Glenn Gabe
- Why E-A-T & Core Updates Will Change Your Content Approach, from Fajr Muhammad
Google also made a note that the links they gave are not endorsements of any kind. Here’s the note:
Note: Links to the articles above are not endorsements of any particular SEO companies or services. We simply found the articles themselves to be helpful content on this topic.
Now, after we’ve followed the guidelines, produced content that is in-line with E-A-T, when can we expect recovery? Google answered this question by stating that the most probable time of recovery is when the next core update is rolled out.
However, they went on to state that improvements are not a sure sign of recovery. As long as there’s “more deserving content”, it will continue to rank well within their systems. Lastly, they reiterated the fact that the improvements they roll out are not perfect which is why they continuously roll out updates.
Google’s advice is not new and surprising. So many SEOs have written about the importance of great content in ranking well in the search engines. Their advice can be summarized into three things:
- Build high-quality websites
- Create high-quality content
- QRG and E-A-T
My advice: take Google’s advice with a grain of salt. Continuously writing great content for a specific niche/industry for a couple of years doesn’t seem too plausible. Experiment with everything that you know and find out what works. Great content is important but it’s not the only important factor in ranking well, so we should put in more effort in discovering effective, white hat strategies. Let me know what you think about Google’s advice in the comments below!