With more people discovering and learning about algorithm updates, we wanted to cover how important it is to be aware of any unofficial algorithm updates made by Google and how you should react to them.
In 2018, Google reported more than 3000 updates to their algorithm, compared to only a few hundred a year back in 2020.
During 2019, Google started to officially announce broad algorithm updates a few weeks or months before they actually happened. This gave the digital marketing community the opportunity to research into the changes and prepare for them.
Broad algorithm updates only happen a few times a year, however we know that Google also updates their algorithm several times a week. These are minor updates that Google don’t announce before they happen.
Most of the time Google won’t confirm that they have happened either. These minor updates don’t normally have any impact on organic performance, however here and there site owners or SEOs do notice ranking fluctuations and talk about it.
You might have heard about ‘Unconfirmed Google Updates’ if you follow SEO blogs or forums. We are going to touch on what they are and whether you should be worried about them below…
What does ‘Unconfirmed Google Update’ mean?
As mentioned before, we have the broad core algorithm updates that are announced by Google themselves in advance with details on changes that can be expected.
Updates can cause ‘chatters from the SEO community’ when they notice high ranking volatility on their clients’ websites. These are suspected ‘Unconfirmed Google Updates’. In short, these are updates reported by the SEO community, without confirmation from Google.
SEO professionals believe that one of the daily changes made to the Google algorithm had an impact on their rankings. However, Google don’t always officially confirm that this was due to an algorithm update.
Should you worry about Unconfirmed Google updates?
‘Unconfirmed Google Updates’ are usually smaller updates as opposed to the Broad Core Algorithms making bigger changes. Most of the time, these unconfirmed changes won’t impact organic rankings and traffic.
Unfortunately, we can’t plan for these updates as they happen all the time. This is why we constantly work on improving our clients websites without worrying about these minor updates and recommend other website owners to do the same.
On the other hand, when Google announce a Broad Core Algorithm update, we look into its implications and plan accordingly. This includes for example the Core Web Vitals update that Google announced last year.
Overall, most sites won’t be affected by the smaller updates, so there is no need to worry about them.
What should you do if your site was affected by an Unconfirmed Google update?
There are 2 ways your site can be affected by a Google update: you lose or you win. If you benefited from one of these minor updates, you just need to keep doing what you are already doing. If you lose, this means that your organic rankings and traffic could have dropped. The drop is usually not as important as it could have been with a Core Algorithm update.
The thing with Google updates is that they don’t tell us why the site was negatively impacted. With so many ranking factors in the equation, it’s difficult to tell which one has been affected, or if there is more than one factor.
The advice that Google gives is the same as they have been giving for years: keep improving the overall quality of your site. This is the same advice for core algorithm updates.
Google updates their algorithm all the time whether it is a core algorithm update, or one of their daily or weekly updates. Any site could be impacted by any update at any time. How do we avoid any negative impacts then? The best way to avoid seeing your organic rankings tanking after a Google update is to do SEO the right way: follow best practices.
Best SEO practices mean:
fix technical issues that could affect crawlability
provide good quality content that matches the users’ intent and replies to their need
make your site user-friendly
stay away from shady techniques
Despite some sites seeing changes from these smaller unofficial Google algorithm updates, most sites see little to no changes and do not need to worry.
Google give details on bigger algorithm updates in advance of any changes. Therefore, we can research them, plan for them, make any necessary changes before the update and be clued up on how things could change following the algorithm update.
SEO should be a priority for all websites to grow online and perform well in terms of business goals. Therefore, rather than worrying about smaller algorithm changes that Google makes, we always recommend to follow SEO best practices. Continuously review and improve your website SEO so that your website performs well over time.
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