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Google Ranking Algorithm Updates – August 2023

Google Ranking Algorithm Updates - August 2023 Sep 12 / 2023

The last update from Google was the April 2023 reviews update. Since then, the expectation of a Google Search ranking algorithm update has caused increasing volatility. Both the SEO community chatter and the results from third-party tracking tools caused frequent spikes in volatility. Since the last core update was in March 2023, Webmasters and others thought that what would come next would be a helpful content update which had not been done since December 2022.

What Happened in August

Throughout the early part of August, there were regular reports of an update being released soon. The expectation caused SEO industry chatter to start to spike, especially since summer was ending and nothing in the way of updates had been released since last April. Finally, on August 22 Google released the August 2023 core update. Google said in a Tweet that the rollout could take up to 2 weeks to complete. These, in brief, are the key facts about the update:

  • Name: Google August 2023 Broad Core Update
  • Launched: August 22, 2023
  • Rollout: It will take about one to two weeks to roll out
  • Targets: It looks at all types of content
  • Penalty: It is not a penalty, it promotes or rewards great web page
  • Global: This is a global update impacting all regions, in all languages
  • Impact: Google has not revealed what percentage of queries or searches were impacted by this update but so far, this seems to be a typical core update that reaches wide, and the impact is fast.
  • Discover: Core updates impact Google Discover and other features, as well as feature snippets and more.
  • Recover: Those that were hit by this need to look at their content and see if they can do better with Google’s core update advice.
  • Refreshes: Google will do periodic refreshes to this algorithm but may not communicate those updates in the future. Maybe this is what we saw the past couple of weeks or all those unconfirmed Google updates.

It is still early days so while some sites were hit hard, the disruption from the August update does not appear to be as widespread as previous ones.

What Google Tracking Tools Say

Google tracking tools differed significantly on the impact of the update.

It appears that while some sites suffered more than others because of the update, the situation was not out of control or as bad as many had feared it would be.

What Webmasters And The SEO Community Say

Webmaster comments were, however, more negative. Many of those posting about the impact said that they were experiencing huge drops in traffic. Typical of the comments were:

  • Today, once again, there has been a nearly 50% traffic drop, and an additional 30% of pages have been deindexed, which has been ongoing since August 17
  • Huge drop for our UK hotel site, lowest day of August at 63% of this month’s average and one of the lowest for 2023
  • For my global sites and UK-focused sites, traffic has been down since the core update announcement, not a good start.
  • Worst drop overnight ever. We are at 33% of the normal level.
  • Massive drop today, Is anyone else experiencing this?

However, there were a few positive comments too:

  • Had a nice boost in rankings for the past 2 days.
  • My largest website –with 900k pages indexed– started to show a +20% traffic boost (+15% in GSC’s total impressions). It was an increase (that still remains) in the number of indexed pages, not in the rank.
  • There was a big jump today. My impression so far is that it’s all about “conversion by algo” backlinks. – Domains that have recently acquired a lot of strong backlinks, strong growth. – Domains with sporadic outflow of backlinks and no new ones, strong declines.
  • For about 2-3 days, the advertising revenue fell by 40%, and then returned to normal

One comment seems to sum up what many are feeling:

  • Google is a roulette now.

Surges in volatility are to be expected after an update. The next few weeks will show how effective and useful the August 2023 core update has been.

Just to recap, we had mentioned three prior Google Search ranking adjustments: in May 2023, June 2023, and July 2023

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