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Google Ranking Algorithm Updates – September & October 2023

Google Algorithm Updates in September & October 2023 Oct 27 / 2023

The months of September and October have been hectic for Google and all those involved in SEO. There have been multiple updates of varying types and the reaction from the SEO community has been mixed and vociferous.

The August Update Rollout Was Slow

The Google August 2023 Broad Core Update did not result in much volatility initially, but as days passed the chatter about the impact increased. By the end of the month, it seemed that the overall reaction was not as heated as was the case for previous updates. Things seemed to be settling down and by September 7 the rollout was over. It was then that the SEO chatter started to build up with the reaction negative. The comments were along the lines of:

  • Huge drop today
  • Today + 2000 keywords but – 8% of traffic. Mah
  • There is definitely no way these clowns are done with their never ending update. Too much fluctuation. AGAIN. Every single update my site is hit with a downward spiral.
  • Traffic way up, Conversions have flatlined since the day the supposedly update finished.

What Happened Next

In mid-September, Google started to roll out the Google September 2023 Helpful Content Update. As usual, the reactions were mixed. While tracking tools maintained their equilibrium and stayed calm, many site owners claimed that their sites were badly hit. SEO chatter was on the lines of:

  • What on earth are they doing, quite simply Internet traffic does not switch on and off like this, it is blatantly being manipulated.
  • Saturday struggled to a 63% with today being even lower coming up to 17 hours and 32% … This is looking extremely pear-shaped !
  • There isn’t any synchronization between their crawling, indexing and ranking systems, else their algos wouldn’t rank and display pages that haven’t existed for weeks.

Google tracking tools such as SERP, Advanced Web Rankings, Accuranker, Cognitive SEO, Algoroo and others showed the fluctuations were not as violent as the Webmaster comments appeared to indicate.

The update took 13 days to complete and the impact was not immediately noticeable. Early reactions were similar to the earlier Helpful Content updates of August 2022 and December 2022. However, the uncertainty and upheaval soon made their presence felt. The Webmaster reactions ranged from:

  • 20% increase in organic traffic yesterday, seems to be holding today.
  • In my vertical it looks like a big boost to .edu domains.
  • Got some #1 places back today that dropped during the core update. So maybe something is happening.


  • It’s getting weird. Real weird.
  • But suddenly, this week there’s no leads or sales from that page. Now page B is getting some leads and affiliate sales. Page A suddenly becomes “dead”.
  • It’s no longer “traffic throttling” but “traffic rationing” as someone mentioned before.

What’s Happening Now

The update action continued to build up. On October 5 Google released the October 2023 Spam Update. The update targets cloaking, hacked content, auto-generated and scraped content spam. The impact is expected to be maximum on sites written in Chinese, Indonesian, Turkish, Vietnamese, Hindi and other regional languages. Initial reactions were that the update did not result in any significant spam reduction but that conversion rates were crashing. That said, in a short while Webmasters were saying that the amount of spam they were facing was decreasing and that the update appeared to be effective.

While Spam Update was still being rolled out, the October 2023 Core Update started rolling out. So we had the Helpful Content Update, the Spam Update and the Core Update rolling out not just sequentially, but starting while the previous update was still underway. By Mid October the chaos started again. Reaction from the SEO Community  included:

  • 9 years in this, the first time I’ve seen such mayhem on any of my sites.
  • Conversions are at -73% compared to the last period;
  • Down 30%-50% this week (after a really, really good weekend, it must be said) – I’m in the entertainment news niche.

The tracking tools showed varying results. While Semrush, SERPmetrics, Advanced Web Rankings and Algaroo, among others showed significant volatility, others like Accuranker, Mozcast and SERPwoo, to name a few, showed a more moderate reaction.

What Next?

While there is no expectation of any further updates in the coming days, there is never any certainty in such matter. Google could announce more changes or updates in the near future. For the present, adjust to the changes, see what can be done to minimize any negative impact and wait for what happens next seems to be the most pragmatic course of action.

To sum it up, we previously discussed Google Search ranking changes in May 2023June 2023, July 2023 and August 2023

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