After a busy month of June with 4 official updates, Google announced two new updates in July and there seems to have been at least one other unofficial update affecting rankings across the world.
July 1st – July Core Update
Continuing from the announcement made in early June, Google informed website owners of the July Core Update thru the Google SearchLiason twitter account on July 1st with the information that the update would take one or two weeks to roll-out completely. As has been the case for over a year, the tweet was accompanied by a link to the August 2019 Search Central blog post What site owners should know about Google’s core updates, but this announcement also featured a the more recent How we update Search to improve your results article written by Danny Sullivan.
A new tweet on July 12th confirmed that the update was completed. These dates are important to compare to any changes you saw in your own ranking in July. Changes from July 1st to July 12th may have been linked to this core update.
July 23rd – 24th – Unconfirmed Update
Changes detected in Google search results by rank tracking software indicated that another algorithm update happened on July 23rd with changes to ranking detected the following day too. Google has made no official announcement about this update.
These rank changes may be linked to the increased importance of the Page experience update released in June. Google did announce that this update would have an increased influence from its launch on June 15th until the end of August. In a tweet on July 21st, Google spokesman John Mueller, said that he imagined that the Page experience update had replaced all of the other page speed signals used by Google prior to the June 15th update.
The Page experience update contained the introduction of Core Web Vitals as signals that Google can use to evaluate pages when calculating ranking. See our article Core Web Vitals and WordPress SEO to learn more about this.
July 26th – Link Spam Update
A new article published on July 26th on the Google Search Central blog, A reminder on qualifying links and our link spam update, seemed to be a reminder of Google’s recommendations for qualifying sponsored or affiliate links using the rel=”sponsored” attribute. However, it also contained the announcement that a new update to the algorithm had been launched the same day across multiple languages and that this update would roll out over the following 2 weeks.
It can be assumed that this update affects the impact that links from other pages (backlinks) have on ranking pages in the search results. More specifically, this update probably reduces or cancels the advantage given by unnatural links to pages, including links from sponsored or guest posts. Google says that it is becoming more and more effective in detecting these types of links and that this update will allow them to re-assess links better over time. This once again suggests that some form of machine learning will be used to work out if links are natural or not.
Two anti-spam updates were released by Google in June. Because this third update is clearly marked as a Link Spam Update, it may indicate that the two previous updates dealt more specifically with site content.
More information in the About This Result feature
Not an update to the algorithm, but an interesting insight to how Google Search works, Google released improvements to the About This Result feature in July. The About This Result feature was launched in February 2021 for Google.com only and the July announcement of new enhancements comes with the promise that it should be available for users outside the US in coming months.
In the new version rolling out from July 22nd, Google has added information on the matching keywords found in the document, related terms, relevant links and local relevance.
This information will enable us to better understand why particular pages are ranking in search results. It should be useful in determining the importance of links or local relevance for ranking pages when there are no matching keywords on the page.
Analyzing Google Search Traffic Drops
Google published an article in July to help website owners analyze drops in traffic seen in Google Search Console: Analyzing Google Search traffic drops.
Website owners can create an account on Google Search Console to get reports on traffic and visibility provided by Google Search. Once the account is created you can see data going back 16 months with details by page, country and search term. You can use SEOPress to help you create your Google Search Console account.
The article published on July 16th can help you interpret different types of traffic drops and gives 5 main reasons why traffic drops happen:
- Technical issues with the website that cause Google to stop ranking pages. These include crawling and indexing problems such as 404 errors or NOINDEX instructions added to Meta Robots tags.
- Security issues such as viruses. Google may show warnings to users who click on links to your site to prevent them accessing your site.
- Manual Actions from Google. Some pages or an entire site could be blacklisted from search results after a manual action by Google.
- Algorithmic changes. Changes to the Google Search algorithm, including Core Updates, that can change how pages perform in ranking.
- Search interest disruption: Seasonality or external influences may also reduce the frequency of searches for popular keywords causing reduced traffic to sites that rank well for those keywords.
This timely reminder from Google highlights the importance of following your traffic from search engines over time and analyzing any changes that you notice. Rank tracking can help determine if traffic drops are related to the loss of ranking in Google or are linked to external influences such as seasonality.