Google had so many updates and announcements to get out in September 2022 that it broke a promise not to release more than one major update at a time. Google makes a lot of changes to search algorithms during a year, but it informs website owners when major updates take place – giving them names and some explanation on how they work.
Google publishes details of Search ranking updates on the Google Search Central site. Here at SEOPress News, we give you a monthly round-up of all Google updates and other important news for WordPress SEO.
It is useful to follow the news of Google updates to see if your ranking rises or falls when each update is released. It can help you understand why rankings changed and help you decide what to do to correct the problem if ranking drops. When two updates are released at the same time this becomes more difficult to analyze.
September 9th – End of the August 2022 Helpful Content update
The Helpful Content update we talked about in the August 2022 Google News, stopped rolling out on Friday, September 9th. The update, which was aimed at English-language content only, appeared to have very little impact on search results according to rank trackers – with the exception of spike of activity the last day of the roll-out. Nothing like the “Panda-like” shake-up that many SEOs predicted.
Intervening on Twitter in response to a tweet by Glenn Gabe, Google’s Danny Sullivan insisted that the update was “Big” and that it was going to be refined over time. He invited website owners to continue following guidance from Google published in the article “What creators should know about Google’s helpful content update“. This article explains that the Helpful Content update introduced a new ranking signal to Google’s algorithms that indicates when a site has high amounts of unhelpful content. The ability to detect unhelpful content is also a new feature of Google search and is performed by machine learning.
Google Panda was an algorithm update launched in 2011 that had a massive impact when it was first released, with many website owners claiming they had been incorrectly penalized. The update was refined over time with monthly updates. It is very possible that the Helpful Update will have a long-term significant impact on search results too, but that lessons learned from Panda mean that Google is releasing this new technology progressively.
The Panda update in 2011 was followed by the Penguin update in 2012. We can feel a little nostalgic for these “Good Old Days” when update names made it much easier to find article illustrations.
September 12th – September 2022 Broad Core Update
With just a weekend to draw breath, Google released another major update on Monday, September 12th. This time a Broad Core Update. Core updates are regularly released by Google and these are thought to update a ranking signal that evaluates site quality based on Google’s definition of E-A-T (See our article Optimizing WordPress sites for Google EAT for more information on this).
The previous Core Update dated from May 2022.
Dr. Pete Meyers speculated on the proximity of the Core Update to the Helpful Content Update on twitter and this sparked a new intervention from Danny Sullivan who replied: “Just saw this. We’ve worked very hard to keep updates separated from each other, or as little overlap as possible, to help creators understand more. So no, not coincidence we are due a core update but said let’s wait on that until the helpful content update has rolled out…”
The Core Update stopped rolling out on September 26th, but just before that, …
September 20th – September 2022 Product Reviews Update
While the September Core Update was still rolling out, Google also launched a new installment of its Product Reviews updates. This fifth version of the update still only impacts product reviews in English. This update is related to the Helpful Content update in that it is based on the automatic analysis of web page content, but specifically product reviews.
The update was announced on the Google Search Central Twitter account and this account then tweeted this rather unhelpful information for those wondering how to analyze any rank or traffic changes during while two updates were rolling out simultaneously:
For awareness, the September 2022 core update has not fully completed but it’s mostly done. We expect it will be fully complete within a week and will share on our updates page when it is done. If you see a change and wonder if it’s related to the core update or the product reviews update:
– If you produce product reviews, then it’s probably related to that.
– If not, then it might be related to the core update.
To which Eric Sparks, SEO and podcaster, replied
— Erin Sparks 🇺🇦 (@erinsparks) September 20, 2022
The September Core Update and September Product Reviews Updates stopped rolling out on September 26th. As seems to be a trend now, there were significant changes to ranking on the day following the roll-out of the Product Reviews Update – on September 27th.
Google Search On 22 Event
With three official updates delivered in September, Google moved on to the Search On event, announcing changes and innovations that it will introduce to Google Search in the weeks, months, and years to come.
The full 50-minute event was broadcast live on September 28th and can be watched back on YouTube. The event coincided with the publication of 7 articles on Google’s main blog.
- How we’re making Search more natural and intuitive
- Search and explore information in new ways
- 4 new updates that make Maps look and feel more like the real world
- New ways to make more sustainable choices
- 9 new features and tools for easier shopping on Google
- Find the perfect dish, no matter your craving
- Bringing more voices to Search
Major announcements for SEO concerned search features rather than algorithm changes. These included the automatic translation of news articles by Google, many new features for shopping searches (including the possibility to select favorite brands and, in English, the use of the prefix “Shop” in search queries to show only eCommerce sites in search results), the introduction of image-text multisearch to 70 languages (it is currently only available in English), a tappable query builder in the search box, and more answers from Google in search results (and therefore potentially less traffic from Google).
Watch the 9-minute recap to get an overview of the changes you can expect from Google Search.