In any given day, Google usually releases one or more changes to its Search Engine Algorithms to improve its search results. Most of the changes aren't noticeable, but in one way or another, they are meant to continually improve how Google Search works.
"Sometimes, an update may be more noticeable. We aim to confirm such updates when we feel there is actionable information that webmasters, content producers or others might take in relation to them," said Google.
But for bigger changes, Google makes significant changes, often broad tweaks to the system.
"Several times a year, we make significant, broad changes to our search algorithms and systems. We refer to these as 'core updates'. They’re designed to ensure that overall, we’re delivering on our mission to present relevant and authoritative content to searchers," Google continued.
The company refers broad core updates because they typically bring widely notable effects.
For example, some websites may experience a drop in ranking, while others see a boost up.
But its the drop of rank that matters and concerns webmasters.
When webmasters experience a drop in search engine ranking, they will be looking for a fix. And here, Google wants to ensure that "they don’t try to fix the wrong things."
For example, if a site experienced a drop, webmasters will scramble for a solution. They may not know that their site is experiencing the drop, not because it violated Google's webmaster guidelines. In cases like this, webmasters may implement changes that could make things worse.
This is because core updates don't target specific pages or sites.
As Google explained, "Instead, the changes are about improving how our systems assess content overall. These changes may cause some pages that were previously under-rewarded to do better."
To help webmasters, Google offered the following list of questions to consider when evaluating their contents:
- Does the content provide original information, reporting, research or analysis?
- Does the content provide a substantial, complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
- Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
- If the content draws on other sources, does it avoid simply copying or rewriting those sources and instead provide substantial additional value and originality?
- Does the headline and/or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?
- Does the headline and/or page title avoid being exaggerating or shocking in nature?
- Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
- Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
Then, some expertise questions:
- Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page?
- If you researched the site producing the content, would you come away with an impression that it is well-trusted or widely-recognized as an authority on its topic?
- Is this content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?
- Is the content free from easily-verified factual errors?
- Would you feel comfortable trusting this content for issues relating to your money or your life?
The next to consider, are questions about the site's presentation and production:
- Is the content free from spelling or stylistic issues?
- Was the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
- Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
- Does the content have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
- Does content display well for mobile devices when viewed on them?
And for last, comparative questions:
- Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
- Does the content seem to be serving the genuine interests of visitors to the site or does it seem to exist solely by someone attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
Going beyond the above, Google suggest webmasters to also consider having others they trust but who are unaffiliated with their site to provide an honest assessment. They may also consider an audit of the ranking drop, to see what pages were most impacted, and for what types of searchers.
"Look closely at these to understand how they’re assessed against some of the questions above," said Google.
Another thing to consider, is to understand Google's search quality rater guidelines.
Google use human raters to help it train the search engine algorithms in seeing good results.
"It’s important to understand that search raters have no control over how pages rank. Rater data is not used directly in our ranking algorithms. Rather, we use them as a restaurant might get feedback cards from diners. The feedback helps us know if our systems seem to be working," continued Google.
And just like many SEO experts have said over the years, webmasters should also understand EAT, which stands for 'Expertise', 'Authoritativeness' and 'Trustworthiness'.
"Reading the guidelines may help you assess how your content is doing from an E-A-T perspective and improvements to consider," Google said.