Google Search's core updates and your website

Several times a year, Google makes significant, broad changes to our search algorithms and systems. They refer to these as core updates, and they give notice when they happen. Core updates are designed to ensure that overall, Google are delivering on their mission to present helpful and reliable results for searchers. This page explains more about how core updates work, and what you can do to assess and perhaps improve your content.

How core updates work

There's nothing wrong with pages that may not be performing as well as they were before a core update. They haven't violated our spam policies, nor been subjected to a manual or algorithmic action, as can happen to pages that do violate those policies. In fact, there's nothing in a core update that targets specific pages or sites. 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 in search results.

One way to think of how a core update operates is to imagine you made a list of the top 100 movies in 2021. A few years later, 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 realise they deserved a higher place on the list than they had before.

The list will change, and films previously higher on the list that move down aren't bad. There are simply more deserving films that are coming before them.

Assessing your own content

As explained, pages that experience a change after a core update don't have anything wrong to fix. That said, Google understands that those who may not be performing as well after a core update change may still feel they need to do something.

Google suggests focusing on ensuring you're offering the best content you can. That's what the Google algorithms seek to reward. 

Consider an audit of the drops you may have experienced. What pages were most impacted and for what types of searches? Look closely at these to understand how these pages may perform against the self-assessment questions. For example, there may be other pages that are doing a better job of helping the searcher because they have first-hand knowledge on that topic. You might also have others you trust (that are unaffiliated with your site) provide an honest assessment.

How long does it take to recover from a core update?

Broad core updates tend to happen every few months. Content that was impacted in Search or Discover by one might not recover, assuming improvements have been made, until the next broad core update is released.

However, Google are constantly making updates to their search algorithms, including smaller core updates. They don't announce all of these because they're generally not widely noticeable. Still, when released, they can cause content to recover if improvements warrant.

Do keep in mind that improvements made by site owners aren't a guarantee of recovery, nor do pages have any static or guaranteed position in Google search results. If there's more deserving content, that will continue to rank well with Google systems.