Notice anything different about your search rankings?
You have Google to thank for that following the Google September 2019 algorithm update.
The search giant recently announced the roll-out of yet another broad core algorithm update, and as usual, details are few and far between.
Here’s what we know so far. Blog last updated 10-4-19.
- Most sites impacted saw a 20% drop.
- Generally, the drops occurred on the blog or content section of the website.
- The drop is not dependent on mobile or desktop. Analysis shows it impacted both.
- In many cases, there was no change in ranking position for top terms. Instead, it impacted long tail terms or terms that did not really fit with the page.
- It appears the algorithm tightened up the terms and refined them.
What is the Google September 2019 Core Update?
In typical broad core fashion, Google did confirm the update but offered few details on what, specifically, has changed.
Essentially, a broad core update happens when Google tweaks its algorithm in order to return more relevant search results to its users.
And though they advertise the update as normal, we’re seeing an average of a 20% drop in traffic for those sites affected by the September 2019 update.
As far as rankings recovery, Google has simply reaffirmed its previous statements about broad core updates: they’re normal, they’re not targeting any one thing specifically, rather it’s an update to the algorithm as a whole. And the best way to ensure your site isn’t negatively affected is to continue to produce quality content.
Without more specific guidance from Google, marketers are left to their own devices to try and decipher why some sites are being hit hard by the Google September 2019 Core update.
Here’s my take.
Google may be refining the terms websites are ranking for.
Looking at the incoming reports, it appears that many pages are losing ranking on keywords – longtail keywords, specifically.
In many cases, there was no change in ranking position for top terms. Instead, it impacted long-tail terms or terms that did not really fit with the page. It appears the algorithm tightened up the terms and refined them to better match search intent.
Interestingly, it appears that keyword ranking stayed the same for positions 1 through 3 and 4 through 10, but dropped for longer-tail positions. In fact, we’ve been seeing cases where keywords ranking on page 1 actually increased in position, while total keywords decreased.
You can see an example of this here:
This report shows that while keywords in the top positions are holding steady, keywords in the 21+ positions have lost rank.
This could be a cause of Google cracking down on longer keywords that may not be as relevant to the page their associated with. It appears that Google is making an effort to match keywords more closely with user intent, and therefore being more particular with the keywords it matches with a given page.
Take a look at this screenshot:
It shows a clear loss in rank for keywords that aren’t directly related to the content on the given page.
If that’s the case, it may mean refining your content strategy to target only the most relevant and to-the-point keywords in your content, rather than going after longer, more general terms.
The drop is not dependent on mobile or desktop.
Though Google has been depending more on more on mobile results for indexing and ranking, it appears that searches were affected equally across mobile and desktop.
Our analysis shows that both were impacted.
Wrapping up the Google September 2019 Core Update
As far as we can tell, this latest update is Google’s attempt to zero in even closer on user intent by weeding out keywords that aren’t especially relevant on a given page.
Going forward, pay close attention to your keyword strategy and continue to monitor your rankings over the coming weeks.
And stay tuned – we’ll have more for you as the rankings reports roll in.