How to Recover From A Google Algorithm Update

How to Recover From A Google Algorithm Update
  • 4 min read

The best cure is prevention, which is true both in medicine and in surviving a Google Algorithm update. You know you’ll get the flu every season, so have DayQuil, chicken soup, and saltines in your pantry. But how will you know what Google’s update will focus on? Well, here’s another cliché: the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

Learn the cycles to predict corrections and updates, stay with the basics of search engine optimization, and ditch hacks. 

TL:DR – Recover from a Google Algorithm Update by being prepared and professional. Don’t be spammy and you won’t be dinged.

Understand Google’s Algorithm Update Cycle

Understanding release cycles shouldn’t be a new thing for WordPress Developers. We have to pay attention to our 3-4 release cycles for WordPress Core (6.4 will be released November 7), plus plugins and themes. Oh, and PHP updates, too – which always seem to be released on American Thanksgiving. And yes, PHP 8.3.0 will be released on November 23, 2023. Imagine that!

By analyzing the past update cycles for Google Search, you can predict what subject Google Search will focus on next. This is what Julian Goldie mentioned in his recent quick video

  • Oct 2023: Core
  • Oct 2023: Spam
  • Sep 2023: Helpful Content
  • Aug 2023: Core
  • Apr 2023: Reviews
  • Mar 2023: Core
  • Feb 2023: Product Reviews
  • Dec 2022: Link Spam
  • Dec 2022: Helpful Content
  • Oct 2022: Spam
  • Sept 2022: Product Reviews
  • Sept 2022: Core
  • Aug 2022: Helpful Content

What would be your guess at the next focus, maybe for December 2023? We’re thinking Product Reviews since it was last updated in February of 2023.

Should I Worry About Google’s October 2023 Spam Update?

For our clients, we recommend focusing on automatic translation tools as a potential for being hit by the October update. Otherwise, avoid spammy tactics. 

Google’s Spam Policy Fights Against:

  • Cloaking
  • Doorways
  • Hacked Content
  • Scraped Content
  • Janky Redirects
  • Hidden Links
  • Keyword Stuffing 
  • Buying Links Without rel=sponsored, etc.
  • Auto Generated Content

There’s so much to read in Google’s Spam Policy, that it would be a good idea to refresh your memory on Google’s policies. Pay attention to nuance. For example, you’ve got your RankMath settings for auto “nofollow” turned off but you buy links or have a lot of anchored text links. Now’s a good time to change those settings. 

As with every update, it’s a good idea to wait a week or so to see what your specific fallout is. Maybe you forgot you published an article for a link exchange. No worries, just unpublish it.

Step 1: Review The Update Focus

When you look at the list of items that Google is focusing on, you have a Google Update Checklist. This will give you areas to focus on as you self-audit your website. It will take a few days for this update to roll out so you have time to recover from Google’s Algorithm update.

October 2023’s Top 5 Update Checklist

  • Automatic text translation. This may be a WordPress plugin like WPML or WP Translate. Fluent speakers should always edit machine translations.
  • Anchored text links without “nofollow” or “sponsored.” Change your settings in your SEO plugin or edit to remove links altogether.
  • Affiliate links shouldn’t appear on “thin pages” as Google mentions. Basically, add value to your affiliate links pages; don’t just copy and paste from the vendor.
  • Comment Spam. It’s possible you have comments turned on but never review or approve comments. Check your settings. Perhaps turn commenting off if you’re going to ignore it on your site. Be sure you have Akismet or another commenting spam plugin installed.

Keyword Stuffing. This isn’t the “Justin Bieber” link spam from the early 2000s either. It can easily happen with a block of text that lists service areas for a general contractor, for example. So think about how you’d create a page just for certain cities instead of grouping them all on a “services” page.

“Wait for the updates to hit and then go through the list.”

Julian Goldie

Step 2: Get Back to Basics

Maybe you’ve overly relied upon ChatGPt lately. Now, you’re reeling from September’s update – which eased up on AI content but still hurt you. Maybe you were refreshing old content and changing the publish date (a no-no, but people do it). Maybe you had an army of writers from third-world countries producing content. 

Get back to the basics of findability. Who do you want to find you? What terms will they use to find your products? Where do you want to be seen as an expert? What topics have you shied away from? On what platform will your current and potential customers communicate? 

Step 3: Forget the Hacks – Do the Work

With SEO, you’re playing on Google’s Turf. It’s their ball, their field, their vendors in the stand. Trying to short-cut or hack a way for them to best serve their customers (advertisers and users) is never going to help you in the long run. 

Google wants to serve its customers content that serves to answer the question. That makes it high quality. These blog posts should show your Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. That’s the entire reason for creating content in the first place. Barfing out AI content just to have something to publish might fool some people some of the time, but it won’t fool all people all of the time. It definitely won’t fool Google’s Army of Spider Bots

Instead of feeding ChatGPT random prompts, for example, use commonly asked questions from your customers as blog fodder. Answering questions from your customers is always unique and helpful content. Your customers will appreciate it and Google will reward it.

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