Core Algorithms & SEO: How to Analyze Focus & Impact

Core Algorithms & SEO: How to Analyze Focus & Impact

Updates to the core algorithm can be the bane of an SEO department’s existence. The quantity of unknowns that accompany updates keeps consumers on their toes, while Google appears to sit back and watch them try to figure out what’s changed.

Given Google’s mysterious approach to core changes — and even regular updates, for that matter — it can feel like we’re at the mercy of the algorithm, with no genuine countermeasures. Google itself has even stated repeatedly that website owners shouldn’t view updates as something they are fighting against.

Do we just throw our hands up in defeat after all of this? No, there are plenty of strategies at our disposal; however, like with anything in SEO, it’s a more sophisticated, long-term strategy. We’ll look at how to deal with, evaluate and influence the outcomes of fundamental algorithm upgrades in this article.

How to address Google core algorithm updates

How to address Google core algorithm updates

First and foremost, we must appropriately calibrate our thinking regarding algorithm upgrades to the core. As previously stated, Google has verified that there is no “fix” that website owners should implement in reaction to the recent core change, tweeting the following:

Google has verified that there is no "fix" that website owners should implement

The lack of a simple “fix” is due to the fact that websites are examined over time. This can be thought of as a single, consolidated report card that is then used to make judgments about whether to reward, punish, or retain a site’s existing status.

Core Algorithm Updates Since 2018

Core Algorithm Updates Since 2018

  • Yearly frequency: Three times per year, except in 2021.
    • Most common quarter: Q2 with four updates in total.
    • We’ve only seen 2 updates in Q4 (Google is probably enjoying the holidays).
  • Most regular months: March and June with 2 updates taking place in those months.
    • Most common time of month: Nine out of twelve updates have taken place in the first half of the month (prior to the 15th). More than half of the updates have taken place within the first four days of a month (maybe Google runs on monthly sprints).

We can use this information to some extent. The average duration between Google Core Algorithm modifications is 120 days, which corresponds to our findings that core algorithm updates occur three times a year on average. This can be used as a general indicator of how much time we have between core updates in order to induce recovery or algorithmic benefits.

How might the outcome of Google’s fundamental algorithm upgrades be influenced?

How might the outcome of Google's fundamental algorithm upgrades be influenced?

Finally, taking a look into the kinds of website changes that might be slightly more valuable in the context of core algorithm updates. While the types of strategies we can use to try to elicit good algorithmic responses are limitless, we can make some educated assumptions based on Google’s previous key focus areas.

Given all that background, and using recurring themes from Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines (what human quality raters use to evaluate websites and SERPs), the following are ten specific website upgrades that can improve your E-A-T signals. When trying to stimulate recovery after dips following a core upgrade, we usually start with this list:

  1. Cite your sources and guarantee accuracy of claims
  2. Kill, redirect, or refresh thin content
  3. Canonicalize, destroy or redirect duplicate content
  4. Incorporate author bylines, bios, and author pages by listing specific credentials and awards
  5. Maintain off-page reputation by updating your Wikipedia page and other informational sources
  6. Showcase business reputation through testimonials and reviews on-site
  7. Safeguard accuracy and sufficient information on social pages
  8. Enhance and expand upon brand informational pages: About us, Contact us, Mission statement
  9. Remove overly aggressive or invasive advertising
  10. Offer clear and satisfying customer service information


To summarize, you, the website owner, are equipped with a number of options to combat damaging algorithmic declines – after all, the greatest defense is a good offense. You may better prepare for the inevitable volatility on a triannual basis by better understanding how to handle, assess, and influence the results of fundamental algorithm upgrades. Are you prepared for the next upgrade to the core algorithm?

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