Google Offers Details on Core Update Recovery Times

In a Webmaster Central Office Hours hangout, Google’s John Mueller answered a question about recovering from a core algorithm update. Mueller explained what a core update generally is and how a publisher can respond.

Must Websites Wait for Next Core Update to Recover?

The background to the question is that it has been the case that some sites hit by a core algo update sometimes recover on a subsequent update.

That gives the impression that the work done on a site to “fix” problems goes unrewarded by Google’s algorithm until the next core update.

The question asked why do publishers have to wait.

This is the question:

“What exactly, websites that have been hit by the core updates can’t recover before the next core update, even if they make good improvements?

Some algorithms are launched one time for a couple of months or how does that work?”

John Mueller answered by first stating what Google’s core algorithms are primarily concerned with, which is understanding how web pages are relevant to site queries.

John Mueller’s answer:

“With core updates we’re essentially trying to re-understand how the relevance of the search results are.”

Mueller then addressed the main question about having to wait.

He said:

“And it’s not something that requires a site to… wait for the next update to have a chance to be seen differently.

They can continue working on things and things can improve over time.”

In the early 2000’s, when Google updates happened on a monthly basis, it was true that a site would have to wait a month until the next update to see their site changes rewarded.

What Mueller’s confirming is that Google’s algorithm operates on a rolling refresh, where the entire index is constantly refreshing.

Once an algorithm change goes into effect, let’s say it’s a change to how “reviews” are ranked to promote reviews with some particular feature, then the index is constantly refreshed using those changes.

So if a site that loses rankings because of those changes adds those missing features because they realize it’s relevant to users, their sites should begin gaining back positions before the next update.

John follows up with an encouragement to keep improving a site in case the next update focuses on one or more of the improvements a publisher made.

“It’s possible that our next core update will make a bigger change in the same direction that you’ve been working and you’ll see a bigger change in your site’s performance as well.

But in general, sites don’t have to wait for the next bigger update in order to start seeing changes.

So, from that point of view, I wouldn’t… stop working on things once you think you’ve done the right thing. But I’d continue working in that direction.

You should see at least some incremental improvements over time.”

Never Stop Improving Websites

One of the oldest and still useful approaches to content improvement diversifying the content.

Some sites can get stuck publishing the same kinds of content. That can put off audiences that get tired of the same thing. Or it can cause the site to miss out on acquiring more traffic from a related audience demographic.

The goal of diversification is to rotate through different content forms.

A mix of evergreen and temporary topics, plus diversifying into other kinds of articles, like image heavy articles, how-to articles, tutorials and so on can help a site attract a broader audience, address a range of needs and build stronger signals of authority.

Identifying new and related audiences can be helpful as well. The reasons people search for things, user trends and so on can be in a constant state of change.

Watch Mueller’s answer here: