Google has rolled out its latest update: The June 2021 Core Update. It's the first in a set of two updates, the second of which we'll see in July, 2021. There will be visibility changes, traffic increases for some, traffic decreases for others, and more. Even if you haven't seen any big changes, it's likely your website was affected in some way.
Let's break some of the details down.
About the June 2021 Core Update
As with updates on your computer, smart phone, tablet, etc. Google rolls out thousands of updates each year to stay on top of the search result quality and overall experience it provides to its users. There are a few major updates (like core updates) that search engine optimizers like us pay attention to, because they are complete roll-outs comprised of changes to the way the pages on your website are evaluated for ranking in search engine results.
Google puts it like this:
"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."
The same is true with a core update. Webpages are assessed by updated guidelines, and this latest algorithm update is no different.
However, Google did something this time around that it has never done before: it split this update into two parts, with the second part to be unveiled in a July 2021 Core Update. According to Google, some parts of the June 2021 update weren't ready to roll out yet. They had actually already pushed back the update one month from May to June, so they probably also thought it would be best not to delay yet another month, but just roll out a second update.
Along with the core update, there will be an unrelated page experience update in June as well. This will focus more on page loading speed and bounce rate in an effort to reduce the number of slow-loading sites in search results.
The other interesting thing to note is that because there is another update lined up so soon, some effects you may have seen in June might actually be reversed in July. This can make things a bit confusing, but if we stay focused on the basic features of core updates, and Google's main goals, we can still have a good idea of what to be prepared for.
So which types of websites have seen the biggest impact so far?
Website Categories Seeing the Biggest Hit
According to Searchmetrics, the losers of this update include websites with thin content. This means websites that have content providing little to no value to the user will be ranked lower in search engine results. There are also many directories that are taking a hit as well as fake airport sites that appear to be of high quality, but contain a lot of spam beneath the surface.
Here is some data from Semrush detailing the categories showing the biggest hit from the update so far:
What can you do if you've been affected? How can you tell?
Danny Sullivan, Google search liaison, has explained that over the past five years, Google has been able to decrease the amount if irrelevant search results by about 40% due to consistent updating.
“We want site owners to understand these changes aren’t because of something they’ve done but rather because of how our systems have been improved to better assess content overall and better address user expectations. We also want to remind them that nothing in a Core Update (or any update) is specific to a particular site, but is rather about improving Search overall.” Danny Sullivan, Public Liaison for Search
So now that we know how and why updates are done, how can you tell how your website has been affected? Well, there are a few things you can do:
Head over to your Google Search Console. On the overview page under 'performance', click on 'open report' to see your performance report. Make sure 'total clicks' and 'total impressions' are showing on your graph. It should look something like this:
This is what our data for Dharana Digital looks like. The purple line is the number of impressions shown in search results. An impression is any time your website comes up in a searcher's list of search results. The update began to take effect around June 5th, and you can see that reflected in this data where the number of impressions shown to searchers has gone up. Do your impressions show a significant increase or decrease around this time? That is a sign that you've been affected by this update.
You can also take a look at your average position for your top queries. Has your position changed for those particular search terms? Or have your top queries changed in general? We noticed that our top queries became more specific to our company and SEO than they were before:
The positive impact we're seeing from the update didn't necessarily happen out of the blue. As a website that is still relatively new, we've been working hard for the last six months to optimize our site's content. Here are a few of the things we've been doing, which you can do as well:
Improve your website's comparative value versus other similar websites in your space.
Offer unique, error-free content that visitors can count on without interrupting their journey with lots of pop-ups and ads.
Optimize your whole site for mobile. Make sure everything is mobile responsive.
Improve page loading speed. This will become even more important when the page experience update is rolled out in a few weeks.
Provide content that displays your expertise and is well-researched, citing your sources.
Try to create the kind of content that you yourself would enjoy reading. Organize it with headings, lists, and summaries where possible.
Has your website been affected by this update? Or maybe you're not sure, but you want to be proactive and check things out? Feel free to reach out to us. We can point you in the right direction and see if you would benefit from a site audit. Set up a complimentary chat with Dharana Digital today.