Understanding the March 2023 Google Core Update: What You Need to Know


In the middle of March 2023, Google began the rollout of its latest core algorithm update. While Google is updating constantly with at least one minor update estimated to take place per day, named and core updates tend to cause a lot more waves in search engine result pages (SERPs). As with most Google Core Updates, the rollout takes place over several weeks so you may or may not have seen any impact yet. Once the update has been finalised, Google will update its status dashboard here.

There have been some reports showing that this update has affected a wide range of industries and sites, with many tools showing high volatility for SERPs across the board.


What is a Google Core Update?

A Google Core Update is an algorithm update that affects Google search as a whole, by enhancing the way the search engine assesses the basic foundations of websites. These often happen a few times a year with several months between each update. These Core or ‘Broad’ updates are just that, broad in what they target. It is an update on how Google assesses content and user interaction. Google is constantly aiming to improve its algorithm, so these updates use previously generated data to assess how the algorithm can be updated. This means that Google is likely observing how well your content has served a user, how fast it has loaded and how good of an experience was it for a user on your site. With tweaks to all of these kinds of metrics, it is no wonder that the movement in the SERPs can be dramatic, to say the least.


Will the Update Impact Search Rankings?

As these updates are looking at several factors, your rankings can change very quickly. This isn’t to say that you have done anything wrong or violated any of Google’s policies, it just means that other content is now serving users better than yours is. This could be down to more complete answers to users’ questions, higher quality content and resources such as images and videos, or a faster, more stable site, to name but a few things.

If your site has been affected and you are seeing drops in your rankings, then Google recommends reviewing your content to make sure that it is “people-first content”. This means that it should be designed to serve a user and not written to manipulate the rankings. Google has even provided a guide for creating content like this so auditing your content can be a great way to find anything you may be missing.


Historic Updates

The new update marks the first core update for 2023. Previously, there have been two to three core updates per year, each refining and updating the algorithm to provide the best results for users. In 2022, there were core updates in May and September.


SEMrush compared the impacts of the May and September 2022 updates and found that September had much more subtle effects than May’s shake-up. They also showed that some of the industries that were affected significantly in the May update had much less movement come September’s update. Industries such as ‘Arts & Entertainment’ and ‘Travel’ had a high amount of movement during the May update, however, they came out relatively unaffected by September’s update.


Looking further back historically, for 2021 there were three updates, one each in June, July and November, and in 2020, there were updates in January, May and December.


Lost Traffic?

If you have lost traffic due to a core update, your best bet is to re-evaluate your content and review the new higher-ranking pages for research. Are there resources that competitors are providing that your site is not? Is it a better, more streamlined experience? Is there a noticeable wait for a page to load? These factors can all play a part in why some competitors are now outranking your pages. The best solution is to look to update and improve your content to close this gap and improve customer experience.

While it is still early days to properly analyse this core update, we will be keeping an eye on Google as the dust settles. If you feel like you have been affected by a core update or your marketing is lacking, then getting in touch with Brave’s specialist SEO marketing team can help to improve your search performance.

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