What You Need to Know About the Google Core Update
A massive core update from Google touched down on March 12th and has been causing waves in the SEO community ever since.
Google dubbed the new update the “March 2019 Core Update,” while some SEOs are referring to this event as the “Florida 2 Update.” A quick note: the new update is not at all related to the Florida 1 Update from 2003.
Like previous updates, the March 2019 Core Update was unannounced but was discovered by our Fannit team and others in the SEO community due to a sudden increase in SERP volatility.
SEMrush Sensor alerted us of the volatility on March 12th. As you can see here, it continued for a few days before starting to level out on March 16th.
We are continuing to track the effects of this new update and this post will update you on what we’ve learned so far.
What Is a Broad Core Update?
Google’s broad core updates seek to improve the search algorithm on global levels and don’t target specific niches of the internet. As a result, every kind of site might be affected by the March 2019 Core Update.
That said, some niches do tend to be affected more than others during these kinds of updates. Specifically, “Your Money Your Life” niches.
What does “Your Money Your Life” (YMYL) mean?
YMYL niches include sites that are about money and life events. This includes financial, health, and lifestyle sites. If you run a YMYL site, be prepared to experience some volatility in your rankings.
Unfortunately, Google doesn’t reveal exactly what it is that they tweak in their broad core updates, and the responsibility falls to us SEOs to analyze and measure what happens to rankings post-update in order to figure out what Google changed.
For example, in August 2018, Google released the broad core “Medic Update” which caused one of our clients (a YMYL company) to plunge in their rankings.
In the weeks after the Medic Update, we figured out that one of the things Google had tweaked was how they valued faulty 301 redirects. Before contacting us for services, our client had recently moved their entire site to a new URL using faulty 301 redirect practices, and while that had been okay before the update, Google devalued their site significantly once the Medic Update rolled out — causing their rankings to crash as a result.
After the Medic Update, Fannit worked with them to clean up their 301 redirects. We predicted that it would probably take a few years for them to retake their old ranking — that is, until the March 2019 Core Update came along.
How Has The March 2019 Core Update Affected Search Results?
The March 2019 Core Update has been out for a few days now, and the SEO industry is hot with speculation about what Google has tweaked this time around.
SEMrush reported that the “most affected categories so far are Autos & Vehicles, Health, and Pets & Animals.”
In the same article, Search Engine Journal contributor, Roger Montti, recorded the reaction of the black hat SEO industry to Florida 2 — some black-hatters claiming that sites with an emphasis on anchor text optimization are dropping rank in the SERPs.
While this may be the case, Montti implies that this is more likely due to how these sites use low-quality backlinks, rather than being an effect of the new Google update.
Meanwhile, here at Fannit, we’ve noticed an impressive increase in the rankings of our clients.
Sites that were devalued by the Medic Update seem to be coming back — a perfect example of our client’s recovery in March
As you can see, the March 2019 Core Update has helped them experience their largest leap in rankings since their Medic Update crash.
Why the leap?
One of the effects of broad core updates is that Google seems to use them to recognize previously unrewarded clean-SEO efforts.
Since the Medic Update, Fannit has been helping them rebuild their site around SEO best practices — cleaning up their faulty 301 redirects and any other improper SEO. The March 2019 Core Update reviewed our client’s site and is now ranking them higher in recognition of the SEO work that we have been doing over the last seven months.
A few other niches that have benefited positively from the core update are legal services, finance, and manufacturing.
Again, these leaps in the ranking are due to Google recognizing the hard work we have been putting in with our clients to clean up their SEO and implement SEO best practices. This is why we highly encourage businesses to not skip out on investing in proper technical SEO — broad core updates will either punish or reward your rankings based on the kind of SEO you’ve been laying as your site’s foundation.
Predictions For How the March 2019 Core Update Will Play Out
It will be a few more weeks until we are able to figure out exactly what it was that Google tweaked in this new broad core update. What we know right now is that sites that have invested in clean SEO are experiencing a boost in rankings while sites that use faulty or black-hat SEO strategies are experiencing a drop in rankings.
Another thing to be aware of is that broad core updates of this nature tend to affect national SEO more heavily than local SEO, so if you run a national company, be prepared to see some more extreme volatility in your rankings for a few days.
The good news from all of this is if your company has made a lot of healthy technical SEO investments, then you should see a boost. On the other hand, if your business experiences a loss in rankings, we will work with you to adjust the SEO strategy for your site once the smoke clears and the rankings stabilize.
In the meantime, I would encourage you to read this post on “How to Recover from an Algorithm Penalty“. This will keep you one step ahead should your business experience a drop in rankings.