What you need to know about Google's Core July 2021 update
Google Core Update July
The new Google Core Update for July has finished its rollout and now settled into the internet. Following on from the June Core Update, this sister update was smaller and less impactful: mainly because it has been said to contain the tail end of the work which Google stated they could not complete or add into the June update.
The update began on the 1st of July, and finished on the 12th, taking the usual 2 week period to complete its rollout. However, according to industry experts the bulk of the update was implemented within the first 24 hours of release.
Google has recently been shifting its focus toward user intent when searching, and user experience on a page. This update helps continue that shift in direction, and as was implemented in previous updates the focus on core web vitals continues.
July Core Update
This particular update was, according to Semrush, particularly volatile. Rankings jumped around considerably in the initial period of release before settling down. Of the 200 top changes (or top winners and losers) from June’s update, 15 were included again this time around as top movers. Out of these 15, 10 had complete reversals in their rankings. Specifically, reference sites and lists were particularly affected, as were lyrics and song information sites, as well as many travel sites. Similarly, as with the June update, car news websites were affected negatively in quite a severe way, even despite the content still being relevant and not obviously lacking in any of Google’s favoured metrics.
Your Money or Your Life sites (YMYLs) continue to be hit, as Google is evidently trying to clean this area of its search results up. YMYLs are sites which Google considers important places for making life decisions. This includes advice of any kind, whether financial, medical or educational; sensitive topics such as death or divorce; also, any pages where sales are made. Some experts believe that even if a user was buying a ball point pen, Google would class this as a YMYL site. Therefore, EAT is vital for producing content on almost all sites to ensure that it ranks with Google. The EAT model is explained in more detail below.
What does Google want from a website?
To help understand what Google values in a page, the EAT acronym is useful. This stands for:
Expertise – How reliable and accurate information is. For example, if a website tells you that Johannesburg is a capital of South Africa, then it wouldn’t rank very highly. In fact, South Africa has 3 capitals, none of which are Johannesburg! Additionally, Google takes into account how helpful information actually is, whether it answers a query or helps direct a user to the next stage of their journey.
Authoritativeness – How convincing a page seems and how likely you are to trust the information provided in relation to the source. If a website is primarily for reviewing coffee shops, but then tries to provide advice on mortgages, then it’s not going to carry any authority in the EAT system. This is related to the authors of content on websites and if Google recognises them as leaders in their field. An author with a profile saying they have 30 years' experience as a barista will be recognised by Google as an expert on coffee but not mortgages.
Trustworthiness – Whether any of the website seems suspicious. Websites including insecure links, suspicious popups or any related untrustworthy content won’t rank highly at all. Websites that include reviews, case studies or industry accolades are all rated more trustworthy, as any verified third-party information helps you rank higher in the EAT system.
If your content is written by someone who clearly demonstrates knowledge in the specific field, is provided in a relative context, and is presented well, your EAT rating will be high. Google values many different factors when it analyses websites: originality; insight; completeness; seriousness; comparative value to other sites, and several other metrics are all used. One good way to determine how your website will fair, especially with the more recent shift to focus on user experience, is to picture your target user. Think about how your site will look to the people using it. A bad website is easily identifiable for most people, so taking a step back from your own and picking out anything that looks unprofessional or unhelpful will always help boost you in results pages.
Why do Core Updates Happen?
Employees at Google explained why these Core Updates happen by likening them to ‘Best Movie’ lists. For example, if you consulted a list of the best movies ever from 2015, you may disagree with its contents. Why? Because a lot of movies have come out since then. Google works in exactly the same way. Search results that were useful in 2015 are likely to have been replaced by more useful pages with more up-to-date information, and so Google must accommodate for this. Rolling out these core updates helps Google to fulfil its goal of delivering the most reliable and accurate information it can.
What the SEO industry says
Danny Sullivan, Public Liaison for Search at Google, reports that “Google Search is updated thousands of times a year to improve the experience and the quality of results.” He explains that “thanks to ongoing improvements, our evaluation processes show we’ve decreased the number of irrelevant results appearing on a search results page by over 40% over the past five years. Google sends billions of visits to websites each day, and by providing highly relevant results, we've been able to continue growing the traffic we send to sites every year since our founding.”
Google, as they have mentioned before, say that there is no need to make changes to your site if it is hit by a core update and sees a dip in rankings or traffic. This is an organic process for the search engine, like natural selection, or even a tree growing; new growth occurs, layering on the old to form rings on the inside of the trunk, which become buried deeper and deeper by new layers. Older and less useful websites will naturally drop off and be replaced by new ones.
It’s always wise to be patient after a core update has dropped, and to wait for the dust to settle before making any drastic changes. By now, if negative change is still evident on your site, maybe it’s time to consider updating some things. Site maintenance is always beneficial, and as mentioned earlier taking a user-oriented approach to reviewing can often help with remedying any issues. One further tip would be to monitor competitors in your sector who have seen positive movement as a result of the update. What are they doing that you aren’t? If you’re really concerned, consult an SEO specialist as they’re sure to be able to boost your internet traffic, and put you back on track.
What to do if your rankings have been hit
If your rankings and SEO traffic have seen a decline in the last 4 weeks, get an audit of your SEO conducted. The core update may have had an impact which means your SEO strategy may need to be reconsidered. Get in touch with an expert member of our team to find out more.