Google is continuously making changes to its search engine algorithm and we saw many core updates being made throughout 2019. Staying up to date with any updates to Google’s ranking factors is an important aspect of SEO as it can affect how best to approach a project or which tasks to prioritise.
Not all algorithm changes are publicised by Google and often updates are monitored and confirmed by experts within the SEO industry. For context, in 2018, Google made around 3,200 updates to its search algorithm which highlights the high rate of change. However, not all changes are what we would consider to be major or “core” updates – the vast majority being only minor tweaks.
Core search algorithm updates occur much less frequently but often have a much larger impact on rankings. Sites can be affected both positively or negatively from an update, so making sure you’re properly monitoring positions and traffic levels is essential before and after an update.
Below, we’ve listed the Google Core Updates in 2019 with some additional details.
March 2019 Core Update
Google began naming each update using the type of update and the date it was released. Google did not give away details about the change and SEO industry experts struggled to confirm any noticeable pattern. However, thousands of community members were able to report significant movements in rankings.
June 2019 Core Update
Google announced its June 2019 Core Update a day before its release. This is the first time Google has given any pre-warning of an upcoming update. The update itself took 5 days to be rolled out during which time another update was also released – called the Diversity update.
The June 2019 Core Update appeared to affect a wide range of sites but specific movements were recorded within the medical industry.
September 2019 Core Update
Again, Google announced this update before it was released. The update appeared to focus specifically on sites categorised as “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL). As before, sites within the medical industry were affected but other niches such as travel and finance also experienced a lot of movement.
Google released the BERT update in October 2019. The update was a linguistic model centred around understanding natural language processing. The aim of the update is to improve Google’s understanding of search queries. BERT is considered to be the largest update since RankBrain was released in 2015.
With each update, Google has reiterated the advice previously shared in reference to algorithm changes. A modern SEO strategy should look ahead at the changing SEO landscape and anticipate future SEO requirements. Google themselves advocate a focus on offering the best website content and specifically state that this is what their algorithm seeks to reward. Ultimately, Google’s algorithm is being refined in order to provide searchers with the best recommendations. Websites must focus on delivering high-quality user experiences in order to achieve strong rankings now and in the future.