Google Core Update: What Is It, and What Can You Do in Case of a Penalty?

Google Algorithm Updates, Core Update: What Is It, and What Can You Do in Case of a Penalty? In March, a new Google core spam algorithm update was launched, primarily targeting AI-generated content. But who are the winners and losers? Why is it important to pay attention to algorithm updates fundamentally, and what are these updates exactly? We explore these questions in our article.

What Are Google Algorithm Updates?

Google algorithm updates refer to the changes Google makes from time to time in the operation of its search engine. These updates aim to improve the quality of search results, meaning that you, as a user, get more accurate and relevant results for your searches.

Think about it, every day countless people search the internet for almost everything: recipes, travel tips, advice, or even the nearest restaurant. Google’s goal is to provide the most useful answers to these searches. To do this, it must continuously refine its “recipe,” i.e., its algorithm, which ranks websites.

Google Core Spam Update, AI Content

Why Are These Updates Important?

Because they directly affect which websites appear in prominent positions when you search for a specific term. For example, if Google notices that many spam sites are topping the search lists, an update will try to filter these out so that sites offering useful, quality content can move up.

These updates are particularly important for website owners and SEO professionals. If a website is “in good standing” with the current Google algorithm, i.e., meets its criteria, it can achieve a higher ranking in the search results, which means more visitors. However, if a site does not meet the new requirements after an update, it can drop in ranking and receive fewer visitors.

Therefore, it is very important to continuously optimize websites, keeping an eye on the algorithm updates announced by Google. This ensures that websites provide quality content and the best possible user experience.

Now that you’re up to speed, let’s look at the most recent, impactful update that affected many websites.

March 2024 Core Spam Update: Focusing on AI Content

Before we delve into the current algorithm update in more detail, let’s take a look at an overview of the previous updates as well.

In March 2024, Google implemented a significant update that particularly affected websites relying on artificial intelligence-generated content. This update, known as the “Core Spam Update,” sent a clear message to the SEO community: Google is increasingly vigilant against the spread of low-quality, AI-generated content.

Panda (2011)

In 2011, Google took a significant step towards improving the quality of search results with the Panda update. The goal of Panda was clear: to promote quality content and push back against websites offering low-value, overly SEO-optimized, and copied content.

Why was the Panda update necessary?

Before the Panda update, many websites enjoyed high rankings in search results without actually offering valuable, useful content. These sites often employed SEO techniques that targeted search engines instead of users, such as keyword stuffing or copying content from other websites. Google aimed to eliminate this practice with the introduction of Panda.

How does Panda work?

Panda evaluates the quality of content on websites. More specifically, it considers the originality, relevance, usefulness, and the reading experience of the content. Websites that do not meet these criteria are demoted in search results, while those offering high-quality content are promoted.

How to comply with the Panda algorithm update?

For Panda, quality and reader experience are priorities. Here are some tips on how to optimize your website to meet the expectations set by Panda.

Original and relevant content

Ensure that your website’s content is unique and truly offers valuable information. Avoid copied content and excessive search engine optimization (such as keyword stuffing).

User experience

Optimize your website for users by improving navigation, loading speed, and readability.

Continuous review and update

Regularly check and update your website’s content to keep it up-to-date and relevant.

Since the introduction of the Panda update, Google has refined the algorithm multiple times to better evaluate content quality. This is why it’s important for website owners and content creators to continuously focus on the quality and relevance of their content, ensuring that their website performs well in Google’s search results over the long term.

Penguin (2012)

2012 was a significant year for Google and websites alike. This was when the algorithm update named Penguin made its debut, fundamentally changing how Google views links, or backlinks.

But why was this necessary?

The root of the problem

Google has always strived to present the most relevant and valuable content to its users. The issue arose when many website owners and SEO experts realized that having a plethora of external links pointing to a site improved its ranking in search results.

As a result, practices such as creating spam backlinks began, which involved buying or exchanging links from irrelevant and low-quality sites. However, this practice often misled users, as high-ranking sites did not necessarily offer quality content.

The goal of Penguin

The Penguin update aimed to address this problem. Google’s goal was to penalize those sites that used manipulative link-building techniques to climb higher in the rankings.

With this move, Penguin essentially made search results more fair and clean, promoting websites that offer quality, valuable content to rank higher.

How to comply with the Penguin algorithm update?

Since the introduction of the Penguin update, the best “defense” has been to develop a natural, valuable link profile. Here are some tips on how to achieve this:

Creating valuable content

The best way to acquire valuable backlinks is by creating content that is useful to others, encouraging natural references.

Building relationships in the industry

Be active in professional communities, blogs, forums, where you can contribute valuable comments and content, building relationships with other experts.

Avoid manipulative link-building techniques

Such techniques can do more harm than good in the long run. Google continuously refines its algorithms, making it easier to detect manipulative practices.

Google Hummingbird Algorithm Update

Hummingbird (2013)

The Hummingbird update was one of Google’s most significant algorithm updates, introduced in 2013. This update targeted Google’s search queries. But let’s also look at why this update was so revolutionary!

What was the goal of Hummingbird?

The main goal of the Hummingbird update was to improve the interpretation of search queries, especially for long, conversational searches. Google recognized that users were increasingly asking specific questions instead of just typing keywords. With Hummingbird, Google became capable of understanding the full context of a search query, not just the individual keywords.

How does Hummingbird work?

Hummingbird can be thought of as a complete “algorithm package” that affects the entire search algorithm, not just a single update. This algorithm began to “understand” the intent of queries and the meaning of the search text, enabling Google to provide more accurate and relevant answers to user questions.

As a result, Hummingbird helped ensure that websites offering content that truly meets users’ intentions ranked higher in search results.

What does this mean for websites?

Since the introduction of Hummingbird, it has become even more important for websites to create natural, conversational content that genuinely answers users’ questions and needs.

Keyword-based SEO remains important, but the focus of the Hummingbird update is much more on the quality and relevance of content, as well as how well a page satisfies user intent.

Tips for adapting to Hummingbird

Here are some tips on how to optimize your website to comply with the Hummingbird algorithm update.

Focus on user intent

Try to understand what your users are searching for and create relevant content that answers their questions.

Use natural language

Write naturally, as if you were talking to a friend. Make technical content understandable even to someone who is reading about the topic for the first time.

This not only makes it easier for readers but also for Google to interpret your content.

Structured data

Use structured data on your website to help Google better understand and categorize your content.

Content quality

Continue to prioritize high-quality, detailed, and informative content that provides real value to your visitors.

With the Hummingbird update, Google demonstrated that it is increasingly working to better understand and serve users’ needs. This means that you – as a content creator – need to know and understand your readers’ real needs and problems.

“Mobilegeddon” (2015)

“Mobilegeddon” is essentially a nickname given by the community to a significant Google algorithm update introduced in April 2015. This update brought about a radical change in mobile search rankings, prioritizing mobile-friendly websites.

The Goal of Mobilegeddon

The fundamental goal of Mobilegeddon was to enhance the search experience on mobile devices. Google recognized that users were increasingly browsing the internet on portable devices, such as smartphones and tablets, making it essential for websites appearing prominently in search results to be mobile-friendly.

Google's "Mobilegeddon" Algorithm Update

How Does Mobilegeddon Work?

As mentioned above, this update introduced a new ranking factor that favors mobile-friendly websites in mobile search results. Specifically, this means that a website is easily usable on mobile devices: for example, the text is readable without needing to zoom in, links are spaced far enough apart to be easily clickable, and pages load quickly.

What Does This Mean for Websites?

Since the introduction of Mobilegeddon, it has become crucial for websites to be mobile-friendly if they wish to achieve a good ranking in Google’s mobile search results. (And why wouldn’t they?) This update was a clear signal to web developers and content creators that adopting a mobile-first approach is not just a trend but an expectation.

Tips for Adapting to Mobilegeddon

Below are some tips on how to comply with the Mobilegeddon algorithm update.

Test How Mobile-Friendly Your Website Is

Use Google’s mobile-friendly test tool to check if your website meets the mobile-friendly criteria.

Responsive Web Design

Implement responsive web design principles, which ensure that your website automatically adjusts to different screen sizes and devices.

Optimize Loading Speed

Mobile users are often more impatient, so it’s important that your website loads quickly on mobile devices. Optimize images, minimize codes, and use caching.

Google's RankBrain Algorithm Update was released in 2015

RankBrain (2015)

RankBrain is an algorithm introduced by Google in 2015, utilizing a specialized form of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to better interpret search queries and display more relevant search results. This was the first time Google directly applied artificial intelligence in its ranking algorithm, bringing revolutionary changes to the accuracy and relevance of search results.

But how exactly does RankBrain work?

RankBrain essentially has the ability to “learn” from past search data to better understand what types of results most closely match users’ various queries. It was particularly useful in cases where search queries were ambiguous or had unusual syntax, as RankBrain enabled Google to better interpret the real search intent of users.

And what does this mean for websites?

Mostly, it means that approaches to SEO need to focus even more on the quality and relevance of content. (Even more so than before.) Keywords and traditional SEO techniques remain important, but in the RankBrain era, understanding and serving user intent is paramount.

Tips for adapting to RankBrain

Here are some valuable tips to consider if you don’t want Google’s RankBrain algorithm to negatively impact your website’s ranking.

Create high-quality content

Content should be in-depth, informative, and tailored specifically to the needs of your target audience. RankBrain takes into account user experience and time spent on the site, so quality content promotes better ranking.

Optimize content based on user intent

Try to understand what your users are searching for and answer these queries with your content. Using long-tail keywords and questions can help target the topic more precisely.

Improve user experience

The speed of your website, mobile-friendliness, responsive design, navigation, and reading experience are all crucial for success. RankBrain considers how satisfied users are with the page, so it’s important that the website is impeccable in every aspect.

As you can see above, RankBrain is essentially a step towards intelligent search by Google. Websites that can adapt to this paradigm shift stand a better chance of achieving their desired ranking in Google search results.

BERT (2019)

The BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) update introduced by Google in 2019 is another milestone in the evolution of search engines, especially in the field of Natural Language Processing (NLP).

This update was specifically created to enable Google to better understand the nuances of language and the context of search queries.

Why is BERT important?

BERT technology allows Google to more deeply understand search intent and the meaning of content on websites. Previously, search engines primarily focused on keywords, which sometimes resulted in search results not accurately reflecting user intent.

The most recent significant algorithm update was BERT, in 2019.

However, with the introduction of BERT, Google has become better at interpreting the context of queries and their various linguistic nuances, thus providing more accurate and relevant results.

How does BERT work?

BERT uses a form of machine learning that can interpret text in both directions simultaneously while “reading” it, thereby better understanding the relationships between words. For example, it can recognize that the same word can have different meanings in different contexts. This also increases the accuracy of queries.

What does BERT mean for websites?

BERT is fundamentally context-focused. For websites, this means that creating quality, well-structured, and valuable content has become even more important.

How can you make your site “BERT-friendly”?

Finally, let’s look at what you need to do to ensure your website does not fall victim to BERT. Focus on quality content It cannot be stressed enough, so we mention it again. Ensure that your website’s content is informative, well-written, and truly valuable and relevant to users. Avoid excessive use of keywords and prioritize natural language usage.

Use structured data

Help Google better understand the content of your website by using structured data. These are important because they highlight the different key elements of the content.

Optimize your website for long, textual queries

Given that BERT better interprets longer and more natural searches, rethink your content strategy and update contents that respond to these more detailed queries as well. Naturally, new content should be created following these principles.

The introduction of BERT indicates that Google is increasingly working to make its search engine like an “intelligent oracle” that can interpret language with the depth and complexity as humans do. Therefore, when creating content, the most important thing is to focus on quality, relevance, and natural language usage.

But why now?

With the rapid development of artificial intelligence, more and more websites began using these technologies to automate content production. Although AI can produce large amounts of content in a short time, this often comes at the expense of quality. Google’s March 2024 update made it clear that the search giant’s priority remains quality, valuable, and human-written content.

How Does This Update Affect Websites?

Websites that overly rely on AI-generated content may have experienced a significant drop in search engine rankings. This is especially true for content that has not undergone human review and focuses solely on keyword stuffing, lacking depth, context, or value.

What Can You Do in Case of an Algorithm Update If You Have AI-Generated Content?

First and foremost, don’t panic. Just because your site has been temporarily downgraded in the search engine doesn’t mean it will stay there. To “get back on your feet” and prepare for future updates, pay attention to the following.

Recovery After a Google Penalty

Human Oversight

If you use AI for content generation, ensure that every article, blog post, or page undergoes thorough human review and editing. This helps ensure that your content provides real value to readers and is truly relevant to the topic. It also avoids overly AI-like “robotic” sentences.

Refine Your Keyword Strategy

Avoid excessive use of keywords and instead strive for natural, readable content. Google’s algorithms are increasingly adept at recognizing and evaluating content quality. Believe it or not, an article is not made good by the senseless accumulation of keywords but by providing genuinely useful information.

Focus on User Experience

In addition to content, it’s worth placing a great emphasis on the overall user experience of the website. Fast loading speeds, mobile-friendly design, and easy navigation all contribute to making a website UX-friendly.

Quality First

Strive to ensure that your content is informative and credible. Write content based on your own research, analyses, and expert opinions.

Recovery After a Penalty: Tips for Bouncing Back After Google Sanctions

If you’ve noticed that your website has suddenly dropped in Google’s search rankings, or worse, disappeared from the results altogether, you’ve likely fallen victim to a Google penalty. But don’t worry, there’s hope! Here are some tips on how to bounce back after Google penalties.

What Can Cause a Google Penalty?

Penalties can arise for two main reasons: automatic algorithm updates, when your website does not comply with Google’s new guidelines, or manual sanctions, which occur when Google employees discover that your website violates the search engine’s guidelines. (You can read more about these by clicking on the link.) These include, for example, spam-like content, keyword stuffing, and poor-quality backlinks (e.g., from link farms or spam sites).

How Can the Website Be Recovered?

First, check Google Search Console to see if there is any indication of manual action. If so, you will find out which rule violation has led to the penalty.

Otherwise, if it’s an automatic algorithm-imposed penalty, you might need a thorough SEO audit to identify the problems.

Next, start the recovery process. This could involve deleting or rewriting content, removing poor-quality links, or improving the website’s user experience.

After fixing the problems, submit a reconsideration request to Google through the Search Console. Here, detail the steps you’ve taken to address the issues.

Be Patient

Recovery takes time. Google needs to re-evaluate your website, which can take several weeks. Meanwhile, continue developing your website and strive for quality content and a good user experience.

Learn from Your Mistakes

Use this experience to better understand Google’s guidelines and improve your SEO strategy in the long term. This way, you not only recover your website but also strengthen it for the future.

If your website has been penalized and you feel you need expert help with recovery, we are at your disposal. And why choose us? Personalized Approach Every website is unique, so recovering from penalties requires a tailored strategy. At SEOlympic, we thoroughly examine the problem and create a personalized plan for your website’s quick and effective recovery.

Expert Knowledge

Continuous Communication We believe in transparent, open communication. We keep you informed about every step and regularly report on progress, so you always know how the recovery process is going.

Long-Term Results

As our case studies show, our goal is not just short-term recovery but ensuring your website’s long-term success in Google’s search engine. We use strategies that not only address the penalty-related issues but also improve your website’s overall SEO performance.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us and get in touch.

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