What You Need to Know About Google’s November 2023 Update

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What You Need to Know About Google’s November 2023 Update

Google recently announced a major core update to its algorithm, set to roll out in November 2023. This update is expected to have a significant impact on search engine optimization (SEO) strategies and rankings. As the fourth notable change this year, it’s safe to say that Google is consistently challenging the status quo of SEO, and webmasters need to be quick on their feet to keep up. But what exactly is this November 2023 core update all about? And how can you adapt your SEO strategy to stay ahead of the game? In this guide, we’ll delve into everything you need to know about the update and provide some valuable insights on how to make the most out of it.

What is a Core Update?

What is an algorithm?

To understand a Google Core Update, you first need to understand what an algorithm is. In the context of search engines, an algorithm is a set of rules or a formula that Google uses to decide which web pages are most relevant to the search queries users type in. It takes into account things like keywords, website credibility, user experience, and many other factors.

What does “Core” mean?

The term “Core” signifies that the update is not just a minor tweak but a major change to the main or ‘core’ part of Google’s algorithm. It’s not focused on one specific area, like just improving how Google understands languages or how it evaluates links. Instead, a Core Update can impact the search results in broad and often unpredictable ways.

Why does Google update its algorithm?

Google’s main goal is to deliver the best possible results to its users. As the web changes and evolves, Google updates its algorithm to keep up with new types of content, new user behaviors, and new ways that people create and manipulate websites. Google wants to reward high-quality, relevant content and demote lower-quality content or content that tries to cheat the system (like using unfair tactics to rank higher).

What happens during a Core update?

During a Core Update, Google makes significant and broad changes to its search algorithms and systems. This can affect how websites are ranked in search results. Some sites might rise in the rankings, while others might drop. These changes are made to improve the overall relevancy and quality of the search results.

What do Core updates target?

Google doesn’t typically provide specifics about what exactly each Core Update targets because the updates are comprehensive and cover a lot of ground. However, generally, Core Updates could aim to better understand:

  • User intent: What users really want when they type a query.
  • Content quality: How valuable and informative content is.
  • Usability: How user-friendly a website is (like if it’s mobile-friendly, loads quickly, and is secure).
  • Credibility: The authority of a website or content author

What’s New in the November 2023 Update?

Google has started to roll out the November 2023 core update as of November 2. This is hot on the heels of the October 2023 core update, and while it may seem quick for another update, Google clarifies that this one targets a different part of the ranking process. Despite this, the advice Google offers regarding core updates applies to both the October and November updates.

Next week, Google plans to begin updating the way it handles reviews. From that point on, Google won’t announce these review system updates regularly anymore. The reason is simple: updates to the review system will become more frequent, so there won’t be a need for separate announcements each time.

“We expect an update to our reviews system to start rolling out next week. That will also mark a point when we’ll no longer be giving periodic notifications of improvements to our reviews system because they will be happening at a regular and ongoing pace.”

However, Google will keep its review system page current, and if there’s a big change—like the system expanding to include more languages—Google will update that page accordingly. Reviewers are encouraged to keep an eye on Google’s guidelines and stay up to date with them.

Google posted a more detailed Q&A related to core updates

What’s the difference between a ranking system and an update?

Ranking systems and updates are two different things that Google frequently works on. Ranking systems determine which content best answers a query, while updates change the way those ranking systems work. For example, a new or improved way of assessing content quality would be part of a ranking system.

“We use multiple ranking systems that do different things. We have a guide to Google search ranking systems that explains some of our more notable ones. Updates are when we improve a ranking system.”

Why does Google do updates?

Google improves its automated ranking systems regularly to deliver better search results. Updates help to refine these systems and fix any issues. There’s a blog post titled “How we update Search to improve your results” from 2021 that gives more insight into this.

Are you doing more updates than in the past?

Yes, Google Search is updated thousands of times each year. Most updates are small and go unannounced, but Google will tell you about the big ones that might impact search results noticeably. There were 10 significant updates shared in 2021 and another 10 in 2022, and it’s likely to be the same for 2023.

What should I do if there’s an update?

Most content creators who focus on quality and user-friendly content won’t need to do anything when an update happens. If you notice changes in your website’s traffic following an update, check out the specific guidance that Google provides for that update, which can be found via the Google Search Status Dashboard. Make any recommended improvements.

If my traffic drops after an update, does that mean I’m spamming?

No, a drop in traffic after an update doesn’t necessarily mean your content is considered spam. But if your traffic drops after a spam-specific update, it could be because Google’s systems identified spammy practices associated with your site.

What updates do you share?

Google shares details about updates that are significant and might impact search results in a way that you would notice. You can stay informed about these through the Google Search Status Dashboard, subscribe to their RSS feed, and look at past updates.

Why do you sometimes have notable updates that overlap?

Google tries to space out big updates to make it easier to identify the effects of each one. However, because they make so many updates, some overlap is inevitable. If an update is ready and will improve search results, Google won’t delay its release just to avoid overlap.

Aren’t there supposed to be no updates during the holiday shopping season?

Google tries to avoid releasing updates during the peak holiday shopping time from late November to mid-December. Still, if an important update is ready, they may release it during this period instead of waiting.

How do you know that an update works to make things better?

Before any update is released, Google thoroughly tests it to ensure it actually improves search results. This process involves analyzing a lot of data to decide if the update is beneficial. More information on this process is available on the “How Search Works” website.

History of Google’s 2023 Core Updates

Google releases Core Updates several times a year. The frequency can vary, and Google usually announces when a Core Update is being rolled out because it’s important enough that webmasters and SEOs (Search Engine Optimizers) should be aware of it.

2023 has been a carousel of updates, with March, August, and October each bringing their own set of changes to the table. Each of these core updates aimed to better the user’s search experience, but not without causing a stir among website owners and SEO professionals.

  • March 2023 Core Update –  This update focused on improving understanding of user search intent and relevance. Many websites saw significant shifts in rankings, with some experiencing a noticeable boost, while others dropped significantly.
  • August 2023 Core Update – The second core update of the year brought changes that centered around expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T). Websites with high-quality content and strong credibility saw an increase in rankings, while others struggled to keep up.
  • October 2023 Core Update – The focus of this update was on improving the speed and performance of websites. Sites with slow loading times or poor usability were impacted the most, with many seeing a drop in rankings.

The Impact on Search Engine Rankings

For webmasters and SEOs, Google’s core updates are pivotal moments that call for a swift and strategic response, especially for those working with a trusted digital marketing agency. A site’s rise or fall in search rankings post-update is a direct reflection of how well its content aligns with the updated algorithms. It’s crucial for these professionals to analyze changes with a critical eye, decode the nuances behind their site’s performance shifts, and modify their strategies accordingly.

The key lies in quickly pinpointing the necessary adjustments—whether that’s enhancing content quality, improving usability, or strengthening on-page SEO—to meet Google’s evolving standards and regain or boost its online presence.

Changes in Rankings

A shift in rankings following a core update is a clear signal from Google about where your website stands in terms of search relevance and quality. If your site jumps in ranking, it’s a nod from Google indicating that your content is hitting the mark. It’s a signal that what you’re doing resonates with their latest standards, and you should keep this direction steady.

On the other hand, if your site drops, it’s not a setback but a prompt from Google to look under the hood of your website. This is where you need to roll up your sleeves and assess what’s lacking. Maybe it’s time to update outdated information, improve site speed, or ensure your pages are mobile-friendly. Each movement in ranking is a piece of feedback, and it’s crucial for website managers to respond by tweaking or enhancing their SEO services and strategies.

Traffic Fluctuations

Traffic fluctuations after a core update can be telling. A sudden drop in visitors indicates that it’s time to take a closer look at your content and identify what’s not resonating with Google’s updated criteria. It’s not a catastrophe, but a prompt for action. Conversely, a surge in traffic is a sign that your content is on the right track, aligning well with what Google considers quality information. Both scenarios demand a careful analysis of your analytics to understand the ‘why’ behind these changes.

It’s about taking these fluctuations as clear indicators of what’s working and what’s not, and then making informed adjustments to your SEO strategy accordingly. This could mean updating outdated information, enhancing site usability, or refining your content to better satisfy user queries and expectations.

Google’s Recommendations for Content Creators

In the face of these updates, Google remains a steadfast advocate for high-quality, user-centric content. “Chances are, there’s nothing to do for most creators who have already been working to create helpful, reliable, people-first content,” Google suggests. For those already in line with Google’s ethos, updates are but a blip on the radar.

Instead of scrambling to adjust with every algorithm change, creators should continue to concentrate on what works: answering the audience’s questions, providing insightful analysis, and ensuring that all content is accessible and engaging. By adhering to these principles, content creators can confidently navigate through updates, knowing that their adherence to Google’s core principles keeps them aligned with the search giant’s long-term vision.

What To Do If You Are Hit?

Creating high-quality, user-centric content has never been more important in the world of SEO. With the constant updates and changes to Google’s algorithms, it’s crucial for content creators to stay on top of their game and continue crafting valuable content for their audience. In this section, we will discuss some key elements of creating quality content that aligns with Google’s standards.

What is People-First Content?

People-first content is straightforward: it’s about putting the reader at the center of every piece you create. This means your content should directly address the questions and needs of your audience, providing them with useful, accessible, and engaging information. Google rewards content that serves a clear purpose and satisfies user intent, not just content that’s optimized for algorithms.

To be considered people-first, your content should be easy to read, filled with actionable insights, and designed to help, educate, or solve problems for the reader. It’s the kind of content that someone would recommend to a friend because it’s genuinely helpful, not just because it ranks well on a search engine.

Creating content that resonates with both users and Google’s algorithms requires a strategic and thoughtful approach. Here’s how you can create valuable content that stands out:

  • Answer Real Questions: Start by identifying the questions your audience is asking. Use tools to find these queries and craft content that provides clear, concise, and complete answers.
  • Solve Problems: Address your users’ pain points head-on. Provide solutions that are easy to understand and implement, making sure your content is actionable.
  • Offer Unique Insights: Don’t rehash what’s already out there. Bring something new to the table, whether it’s original research, a fresh perspective, or a novel way of explaining a concept.
  • Go In-Depth: Surface-level content won’t cut it. Dive deep into topics to give your readers a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. This comprehensive approach to content creation combines elements of SEO content marketing with user-centric principles.
  • Be Engaging: Keep the user engaged with a strong narrative or interesting data points that make them want to read on. Use subheadings, bullet points, and images to break up text and add interest.
  • Prioritize Clarity: Your content should be easy to read and jargon-free. Complex topics can be made accessible with simple language and clear explanations.
  • Optimize for Search Intent: Understand why users are searching for a particular topic and tailor your content to meet that intent, be it to inform, educate, or entertain.
  • Update Regularly: Keep your content fresh and up-to-date. Revise older posts to ensure they remain relevant and continue to provide value over time.

How to Stay Informed on Updates

To navigate through the tides of SEO effectively, staying updated with Google’s frequent changes is crucial. Here’s a straightforward approach to keeping yourself informed:

  • Monitor the Google Search Status Dashboard: This is your go-to for real-time updates. It not only confirms when an update starts and finishes but also links to detailed guidance on the changes.
  • Subscribe to the Google Webmasters Blog: For in-depth analysis and official announcements, this blog is invaluable. They often break down the core updates and what Google expects from web content.
  • Join the Google Search Central Community: Here, you can discuss updates, share insights, and ask questions. Learning from peers can provide practical, actionable advice.
  • Follow Google’s Official Twitter: For quick alerts and tips straight from the source, Google’s Twitter account is essential. It’s often the first place updates are announced.
  • Set up Google Alerts: For specific updates or SEO topics, Google Alerts can send you email notifications whenever new information is published.

After completing the update, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get back to creating valuable, people-first content. Take a closer look at your website’s performance data, meticulously analyzing the trends and deviations that emerge. By doing so, you can gain valuable insights into how your content can be further enhanced to align seamlessly with Google’s refined algorithms.

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