Google says you can recover from core updates without a new core update

Last Friday, John Mueller of Google said in a webmaster hangout video that if your site was negatively impacted by a Google core algorithm update, that you do not need to wait for the next time Google pushes out a core update to recover. Yesterday, in another Google webmaster hangout with John, I asked him numerous questions around that statement and it turns out that the data and signals that make up these core updates do get updated regularly between Google core updates.

Previous communication. Google did publish a bit over a year ago that “broad core updates tend to happen every few months.” Google said that “content that was impacted by one might not recover – assuming improvements have been made – until the next broad core update is released.” In fact, many SEOs generally agree that it is rare to see a full recovery from a Google core update without Google running another Google core update.

But the blog post does continue to say some may see incremental improvements. “However, we’re constantly making updates to our search algorithms, including smaller core updates. We don’t announce all of these because they’re generally not widely noticeable. Still, when released, they can cause content to recover if improvements warrant,” Google wrote. These improvements may be due to a smaller, unannounced core update or other algorithm updates that might help the site overall rank better.

The change. So you do not have to wait for a Google core update to see a full recovery, Mueller said on Friday’s video at the 3:35 mark into the video and he confirmed it again yesterday in my conversation with him (the video is not out yet but we will add it when it is available).

Mueller said on Friday “it’s not something that requires a site to kind of 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.” Mueller said that it is “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 just, like, 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 there,” he said.

Yesterday, Mueller confirmed with me that you can see a “full recovery” for a Google core update prior to Google running that core update again. You do not have to wait for a Google core update he said to see a full recovery.

Regularly refreshed. Mueller told me yesterday that the signals and data that these core updates use are “regularly” updated between the quarterly or so core updates. He confirmed that unlike the old Penguin or Panda updates, where you had to wait for Google to push out a new update, core updates do not operate like this. The scores within the core updates are “regularly updated” all the time he said. It might not be in real-time or hourly or even daily but they are regularly updated and you do not have to wait, Mueller told me.

The first video. Here is the first video from Friday where Mueller said this. As soon as I listened to it I asked him to confirm this is indeed accurate and he looked into it and I spoke to him yesterday to clarify.

We will add that video when it is processed and available on YouTube.

Why we care. This is great news for sites hit in a negative way by these Google core updates. While Google generally pushes out a broad core update every three months or so, if your site loses 50% of its Google organic traffic, you do not have to wait a whole business quarter to recover. You can try to follow Google’s advice on core updates and, hopefully, you will see improvements before the next core update is released.

Meanwhile, it is over four-months since the last core update, which took place on May 4, 2020. SEOs and webmasters are eagerly waiting for the next core update and bracing themselves for that impact, which is expected any day now.


About The Author

Barry Schwartz a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry’s personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here.

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