Insights into Google’s October 2023 Core Update

30-Second Summary:

  • Google’s October 2023 Core Update, following the Spam and Helpful Content Updates, brought significant volatility to search rankings.
  • The update, peaking in mid-October, had varying impacts across sectors like Finance and Entertainment.
  • Comparison with the August 2023 Core Update shows less dramatic overall impact but similar volatility in top positions.
  • Focusing on quality content and SEO best practices will help to navigate these updates effectively.

Another month brings another core update from Google, and the impact of this is being felt across many different sites. As with all algorithm updates from Google, some disruption is expected, both positive and negative for site owners, but with this not long after the October 2023 Spam update, as well as the September 2023 Helpful Content Update, there’s been much more activity than seemingly usual.

So what did the October 2023 Core Update involve and what has been the impact? Here, we’ll take a look at this and see what site owners can understand from the changes.

What is the Google October 2023 Core Update?

Google released its October Core Update on 5th October with the roll out lasting until 19th October, a full 14 days later, and saw a significant change in its algorithm. This was already during a busy period marked by the release of the October 2023 Spam Update the day before (4th October 2023) which updated its spam detection systems to reduce visible spam in the SERPs. It also hasn’t been that long since the September 2023 Helpful Content Update too, so it’s safe to say Google HQ has been particularly busy the last few months.

This latest Google core update follows in the footsteps of past Google core algorithm updates in that it aims to improve search results for users and promote the most relevant helpful content in the SERPs. This is the third one this year after the March and August Google core updates, and won’t be the last. Of course, this means that there is always some volatility to be expected, with some sites experiencing more turbulence than others.

This latest update was characterised by a clear and visible peak in rank volatility, as is generally expected with core updates. Despite the various updates before it, the October update followed the usual curve, with Semrush reporting peak volatility on October 10 and a secondary spike towards the end of the update​​​​.

The October 2023 Core Update had a varied impact on search rankings with certain sectors like Finance, Shopping, and Arts and Entertainment seeing greater increases in volatility during this update.

Comparison with the August 2023 Core Update

When comparing the October 2023 Core Update with the last one in August, the overall impact appeared less dramatic. Semrush reported that the average positions gained and lost in URLs were slightly lower in October. However, in terms of the top ten position rankings, the volatility was similar. If you were a website impacted by a loss of positions, it certainly won’t feel any less dramatic though, with as usual some sites seeing improvements whilst others seeing drops.

Google’s advice for those negatively impacted by these core updates is to consider a range of questions about their site content and quality, rather than seeking specific actions for recovery​​. As with the spam update, those who have been working hard to provide helpful content for their users rather than just to please the bots should see out core updates without too much negativity.

Navigating SEO in a Volatile Environment

With regular Google core algorithm updates, adapting SEO strategies can help to ensure you move forward with the changes. Understanding the unique focus of each update, such as core, spam, or content-related changes, is key to effectively responding and maintaining or improving site rankings. Whilst on the one hand you shouldn’t be creating content and pages just to please Google, their guidance on core updates is useful to understand why your site may have benefitted or impacted.

Top Tips to Navigate Core Updates

So, what can you do when impacted by a core update? Google says, “pages that experience a change after a core update don’t have anything wrong to fix”, but it’s best to review what may have caused a fluctuation for your site.

  • Monitor for Changes – Regularly track your website’s search rankings and traffic patterns, especially after a core update. This helps in identifying the specific impacts of the update on your site and helps in deciding a targeted response strategy if required.
  • Prioritise Quality Content – Create content that genuinely addresses user needs and queries. Google’s updates often focus on rewarding high-quality, informative, and user-friendly content. Ensure your content is well-researched, engaging, and adds value to your audience.
  • Adapt to SEO Best Practices – Staying updated with the latest SEO trends and guidelines can ensure you’re on the right track. From optimising for mobile to improving site speed, and ensuring user-friendly navigation. Google’s updates often aim to enhance UX, so aligning with these practices is crucial.
  • Analyse and Adjust – Using tools like Google Analytics will help you gain insights into your website’s performance. By analysing metrics like bounce rate, time on site, and user engagement you can identify areas needing improvement. Based on these insights, you can then tweak your SEO and content strategies.
  • Avoid Quick Fixes – Focus on building a solid foundation for your website with ethical SEO practices. This ensures long-term sustainability and reduces the risk of being negatively impacted by updates.
  • Regular Website Audits – Conduct comprehensive website audits periodically. This should include checking for broken links, outdated content, and technical SEO issues. A well-maintained website is more likely to fare better during core updates.

Navigating Towards SERP Success

Google’s October 2023 Core Update underscores the dynamic nature of SEO. If you want to adapt to these changes it requires a proactive approach as Google will continue to update its approach to search rankings and providing the best experience for its users – and that’s what site owners need to keep in mind; Google is only interested in providing the best for its users, so sites that do not meet this high bar may see more volatility going forward.

We know that navigating these updates can be challenging, but with the right strategies, you can maintain and even improve your website’s ranking. If you’re seeking expert guidance to stay ahead in this ever-evolving search landscape, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here to help you harness the full potential of SEO, so we’ll be happy to discuss your goals, how you’ve been impacted by the latest Google core update and what you can do to pivot and thrive again.

For more insights, please visit our blog. You can find more about how AI is transforming customer service for ecommerce, as well as the evolution of Google ranking factors in 2023.

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