The Biggest Google Search Algorithm Updates of 2023

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The Biggest Google Search Algorithm Updates of 2023

Google is at the heart of all things digital. Being a top search engine, Google is constantly updating its algorithms to provide better search results for users and reward high-quality content.

65% of SEOs say Google’s 2023 algorithm updates have made a positive impact on traffic and rankings of the websites. That’s why you need to stay on top of the latest changes and adapt your SEO strategy accordingly. In other words, you need to be aware of the latest Google algorithm updates.

Each update presents an opportunity to understand the search engine rankings and their ecosystem. That’s why webmasters, SEO specialists, and businesses worldwide eagerly look forward to these transformative updates.

Let’s look at the Google algorithm updates of 2023.

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The Biggest Google Search Algorithm Updates of 2023

You may already know that Google shares several updates throughout the year. In fact, there might be one rolling out as you read this post. But, we are going to focus on only the most critical ones in 2023.

Let’s start with the oldest first:

1. February 2023 Product Reviews Update

  • Roll-out Date: Feb 21, 2023
  • Completion Date: March 7, 2023 (14 days)
  • Details: It was the first notable update in 2023. In the February 2023 Product Reviews Update, Google implemented significant changes to its algorithm. While similar to previous product review updates, it was more widespread than ever, impacting 10 languages. Besides English, it also impacted Spanish, German, French, Italian, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Russian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Polish languages. As a result, this update caused a significant shift in how Google evaluates and ranks review content. As you can imagine, the update prioritizes reviews that offer valuable insights, expert opinions, and detailed analysis. In short, Google wants to promote transparency and personal verbiage in product reviews.

2. March 2023 Broad Core Update

  • Roll-out Date: March 15, 2023
  • Completion Date: March 28, 2023 (13 days)
  • Details: Again, the March 2023 core update lacked any new guidance from Google. However, the SEO industry did recognize this update for its volatility, comparable to or greater than previous core updates. It was yet another milestone in the continuous evolution of Google’s core search algorithm.

3. April 2023 Reviews Update

  • Roll-out Date: April 12, 2023
  • Completion Date: April 25, 2023 (13 days)
  • Details: The April 2023 reviews update saw a change from “product reviews system” to “reviews system.” With this update, Google expanded its scope to include different types of reviews when sharing search results. That said, the update focused on improving experience. In short, Google started considering phrases like “in my experience” or “from personal experience” as an authority signal when listing reviews. The update also evaluates the content that can be considered a review or recommendation. The heightened focus on review quality across various domains made it more volatile than the previous product review updates.

4. Topic Authority System

  • Roll-out Date: May, 2023
  • Details: As you may know, Google’s Topic Authority system aims to provide more relevant and informative content in the Search and News. It is directly linked to E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trust), previously known as E-A-T. In May 2023, Google announced that the new, improved topic authority system would better surface the news and search content. The system would start using factors including but not limited to the reputation of a source, its notability for the given location, and influence and originality. It would particularly help with search queries in specialized niches like healthcare and finance, among others.

5. August 2023 Core Update

  • Roll-out Date: Aug 22, 2023
  • Completion Date: Sept 7, 2023 (16 days)
  • Details: It was another broad-core update without specific guidance from Google. Although the August 2023 Core Update was not a penalty, it aimed to reward well-optimized and relevant web pages. It was developed to improve how Google scans and analyzes content. So, it may have rewarded some of the web pages that were previously under-rewarded. However, the SEO industry noted this update for its relatively muted impact compared to its predecessors. Yet, it was significant enough to influence search results.

6. September 2023 Helpful Content System Update

  • Roll-out Date: Sept 14, 2023
  • Completion Date: Sept 28, 2023 (14 days)
  • Details: This update changed how Google assesses and ranks content. It started targeting content primarily created for SEO purposes (ranking well in search engines) rather than for people. The update’s focus was on the helpfulness and relevance of content. Naturally, this update impacted the SEO industry heavily. It also featured an improved classifier that rewards helpful, relevant, and user-first content. So, the update would eventually demote low-content websites and targeted content with horrible UX. And more importantly, it would affect websites in all languages. To recover from its impact, Google advised identifying unhelpful content on your site, removing or replacing it with user-friendly content, and sticking to Google’s content quality guidelines.

7. October 2023 Spam Update

  • Roll-out Date: Oct 4, 2023
  • Completion Date: Oct 20, 2023 (15 days)
  • Details: As the name suggests, this update focused on improving spam coverage for users worldwide. It coincided with the October 2023 core update. SEOs and digital marketers viewed this update as Google’s commitment to combating web spam. The update targeted multiple languages. It targeted spam content, such as cloaking, hacked, auto-generated, scraped, thin, copied, misleading, and overly promotional. Site owners and SEOs must review their websites to remove potentially spammy content. If not, this update would affect your search results rankings.

8. October 2023 Core Update

  • Roll-out Date: Oct 5, 2023
  • Completion Date: Oct 19, 2023 (14 days)
  • Details: It was the third major update of the year. But in terms of impact, this was one of the most significant Google search algorithm updates in 2023. It saw ranking volatility and complaints from SEOs. The core update targeted the primary ranking systems in Google’s search engine algorithms. It aimed to improve search quality and reduce the amount of low-quality, spammy content in search results. It also included a bug fix impacting Discover traffic. If your site felt the impact of this update, focus on creating helpful/relevant content, positive user experience, and gradual UX improvements.

9. November 2023 Core Update

  • Roll-out Date: Nov 2, 2023
  • Completion Date: November 28, 2023 (26 days)
  • Details: Distinguished from the October 2023 core update, this update caused a significant change to Google’s search algorithm. It was a rare occurrence that Google rolled out two core updates back to back. This core update focused on improving search results and promoting high-quality content. It particularly made changes to content quality, user experience, mobile friendliness, and local SEO. As you can imagine, this update impacted visibility and organic search traffic for many websites. If your website also suffered the same fate, consider looking up Google’s updated core update guidance for tips.

10. November 2023 Reviews Update

  • Roll-out Date: Nov 8, 2023
  • Completion Date: Dec 7, 2023 (29 Days)
  • Details: With this update, Google changed how the search engine giant uses its review system. It is believed that Google rolled out this update over 29 days. With this update, Google announced that Google will make regular updates to enhance the quality and reliability of review content in search results. It also wouldn’t announce future updates to the review system. With this update, the review system would regularly evaluate reviews and opinion-based content. This update fundamentally changed how reviews help determine search rankings and consumer trust.

In Conclusion

Google algorithm updates still tend to scare SEOs and business owners. However, like challenges, each update presents you with excellent ranking opportunities. If you are ready to handle these changes, your website rankings will continue to reign. Google has already rolled out these updates. So, the sooner you can make the necessary changes to your strategy, the better. This list will help you get started.

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  • Narayani is an SEO Analyst at E2M, where she applies her years of experience to enhance the online visibility and performance of clients' websites. She is proficient in on-page, off-page SEO and content marketing, and constantly updates her knowledge with the latest marketing and SEO trends. She loves to unwind with some soothing music and a cup of tea after a day of optimizing websites.