Google Algorithm Updates Rarely Matter

If your SEO or SEO agency is overly anxious about algorithm updates you might want to find a new one. Google algorithm updates rarely matter much when you’re doing SEO the right way.

Google Algorithm Updates: Then & Now

When Google first started, they only made algorithm updates a few times per year and they were a big deal to everyone on the web. Now they make thousands of changes each year and only a small handful are publicly announced or explained through their Search Status Dashboard.

Trying to measure the impact of this many unknown changes and draw meaningful insights is virtually impossible. To keep up with and act on every Google algorithm update would be like drinking from a fire hose. Don’t do it, you’ll die.

Blackhat SEO is risky

Blackhat SEO is the process of optimizing a website to increase its visibility by through violating search engine guidelines. Historically this was a large part of the SEO industry but as Google has improved their algorithms so have SEOs improved their compliance with guidelines (in other words, Blackhat SEO doesn’t work as well as it did in the past).

Search engine optimization strategies that rely on gaming Google are a house of cards waiting to come crashing down. If your SEO strategy relies on Blackhat SEO tactics then algorithm updates will matter a lot more. Google’s goal is to improve the quality of search results through their algorithm updates. So, if your tactics include getting low quality content ranked well – algorithm updates can be a huge concern.

Whitehat SEO is the way

Instead of worrying about algorithm updates you can look forward to them when using Whitehat SEO strategies. By following search engine guidelines, you can rest assured that algorithm updates won’t completely derail your SEO. Being aware of Google’s spam policies and what type of content is engaging to your audience will help keep your site ahead of algorithm updates.

There are some exceptions to this rule and it’s important to still stay away of algorithm updates.

Exceptions & staying aware

While most algorithm updates won’t matter to SEOs optimizing sites the right way, there are exceptions. For example, if Google does an algorithm update targeting your industry or niche it could negatively impact performance regardless of your strategy. This is exactly what happened to numerous healthcare websites when Google’s introduced their health knowledge graph back in 2015.

Sometimes broader updates can have a negative impact as well. For example, mobile-first indexing and core web vitals would have likely hurt traffic for sites that were slow or not mobile-friendly.

Another example of a broader update is the inevitable launch of Search Generative Experience (SGE) experience which may lead to natural search performance drops. The thing to keep in mind in these instances is that your competition will also be impacted.

While most algorithm updates aren’t a big deal, we still strongly recommend staying up-to-date. As SEO legend Barry Schwartz recommended back in 2020, focus on your website, not the algorithm.

How to recover from an algorithm update

If you believe your site has been negatively affected by a Google algorithm update the first step is remain calm. Next, you’ll want to engage an experienced SEO to help determine the likelihood of Google’s algorithm update being the cause of performance issues. An expert SEO can help to evaluate if there is anything to “fix” or how tactics and strategies should be adjusted.

Remember, the vast majority of algorithm updates aren’t something to act on. According to Google there is nothing you can do to recover from core updates. And in some cases, making changes after an algorithm update can mistakenly cause more harm than good. Many SEOs tend to disagree with this statement from Google – we believe the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

So, if you’re wondering – do Google algorithm updates matter in 2023? Yes, but rarely and not nearly as much as you (or many SEOs) may think. Remain calm and stick to your strategy!

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