Google's June 2021 Core Update: Everything You Should Know That Can Still Affect Your Content
You might have heard it by now: Google's latest Core Update rolled in this month, which means changes to Google's search algorithms and systems that websters should be aware of will come into effect.
So consequently, with this update and the resulting changes that arise, you may have to adjust once more in your digital marketing practices. Take note, however, that it's 'may' and not 'will.' Not everyone who has a website or blog will be affected in the exact same ways. Some might not be affected significantly. But what we can tell you is since the update officially finished its rollout on June 12, as confirmed by Google, a fair share of "winners" and "losers" from this have been detected.
What is the importance of these Core Updates? Generally speaking, this is Google's way of ensuring they are delivering on their mission to "present relevant and authoritative content to searchers." You can think of it in a similar way to how mobile apps require updates from time to time, but instead of needing to weed out specific bugs or glitches – it's about making the entire algorithm smarter and better.
There is a need for some clarifications, however. When the announcement from Google came out at the start of June, it was mentioned that the broad core algorithm was to be rolled out in two phases: the first beginning on June 2 and an additional phase occurring sometime in July. Furthermore, this June 2021 update is totally separate from the Page Experience Update that was also launched during the month, and this is another algorithm update pertaining to Core Web Vitals and AMP.
Winners & Losers Of Google's June 2021 Core Update
Now comes the big question: who are the ones that gain and benefit from this recent update? Well, the answer isn't absolute or clear-cut as of this moment. However, SEMRush's recent analysis on winners by industry does reveal how websites seeing the biggest gains visibility-wise so far belong to the Law & Government, Internet & Telecom, and Food & Drink sectors.
But in case you're looking for more specific data, as well as examples of websites that gained or lost a noticeable amount of visibility, you can refer to Amsive Digital's report on winners and losers of the June 2021 Core Update. This report was done by collecting the Sistrix Visibility Index score of a given root domain in the period of June 4 - June 14, 2021. This score serves as a reflection of how well a certain domain ranks across Sistrix's index of 1 million keywords that are tracked in the US, based on google.com searches.
Top 5 Winning Domains
Based on the Sistrix Visibility Index score, covering the period of June 4 - June 14, 2021, the following websites appeared to have been the biggest gainers in terms of 'total visibility change' from this update.
1) wikipedia.org – 87.8
2) amazon.com – 62.1
3) cambridge.org – 52.2
4) lifewire.com – 36.2
5) dictionary.com – 33.5
Top 5 Losing Domains
Then, on the other end of the spectrum, based on the same Index score and over that same period, these websites listed below apparently have lost a significant amount in total visibility following the update.
1) tripadvisor.com – -75.6
2) wiktionary.org – -63.7
3) quora.com – -20.1
4) techradar.com – -19.5
5) youtube.com – -18.2
The full report does include countless more items, figures, and data tables than what is shown above, but what's most notable here is the shift in 'prioritization' by Google when it comes to both dictionary websites and reference sites. Just by looking at the biggest gainer alone, Wikipedia, it's quite astounding to view it as among the winners at all, given it has experienced declines in visibility with prior Core Updates.
Meanwhile, consider the websites placing 3rd, 4th, and 5th on the winners' list. They are all reputed websites for researching and for finding credible information. Therefore, it appears that Google is now more particular about more query-based searches to result in these reference sites and online dictionaries ranking towards the top.
Product Review & Affiliate Websites: Noticeable Gainers
A number of websites in this space also appear to have been impacted in a positive way, and it's interesting given how Google also recently launched its latest Product Review update, which heavily impacted those same sites. Overall, the impact was even greater among review sites that focus on consumer electronics and technology. Notable sites that experienced heightened increases in visibility percentages are gadgetreview.com, alatest.com, trustedreviews.com, geeksonsite.com, and appadvice.com.
Finance & Business Websites: Noticeable Gainers
Apparently, the recent Core Update has positively impacted a good number of finance and business sites as well. The domain debt.org has experienced a dramatic increase visibility-wise, which might be surprising given the massive decline in visibility it saw as recently as in late 2020. It's a pattern that has been seen on other sites such as livestrong.com and parenting.com. As for other noteworthy mentions in the finance space, sites that gained a visibility change of 100% or more include thelendersnetwork.com, marketbusinessnews.com, and myaccountingcourse.com.
Health, Wellness & Parenting Websites: A Mixed Bag
Given that it's less than a month since the Core Update has kicked in, you can expect some cases of 'clash' between the ways that similar websites are impacted. First, there was a significant movement among select sites in parenting, health, and wellness spaces. But on the other hand, there are actually some cases wherein the update has caused a reversal in visibility trends that had just been detected by prior updates – trends that had gone on over the past months. For instance, whattoexpect.com and verywellfit.com have seen substantial drops in their visibility percentages, whereas parenting.com, fatherly.com, and livestrong.com all have gone up visibility-wise.
News, Media & Publisher Sites
This one isn't that surprising. But sites within the news and media spaces continue to see fluctuations and volatility with the latest update, which isn't all that different from most of the recent Core Updates. Which ones are seen as the winners, however? The websites womansday.com, parade.com, economist.com, and thedailybeast.com, have all experienced major upswings in terms of visibility.
User-Generated Content (UGC)
There are a number of well-known websites, which rely primarily on User-Generated Content, being negatively impacted so far as a result of the June 2021 Core Update. These sites include Reddit, Quora, Yelp, and Tripadvisor.
Yes, Things Have Changed – But Do Not Despair
Basically, every time a Core Update has taken effect, you should not be quick to assume there's something wrong with your web pages just because they're not "performing" as well. If they drop in the rankings of certain searches, there's no need to assume that these pages have somewhat violated Google's webmaster guidelines. Neither is it sensible to think they have been subjected to manual or algorithmic actions, which is what happens to pages clearly violating the guidelines.
A Core Update isn't purposely done to target specific websites or pages, in general. Rather, the changes are there to improve how Google assesses online content overall. And when it comes to the resulting implications, it's predominantly cases where previously undervalued and under-rewarded web pages get more recognition, thereby leading to improvements in their rankings and visibility.
That said, also bear in mind that this June 2021 Core Update is going to be followed by another update next month. Additionally, we are expecting the Page Experience Update to cause further changes overall to what we currently see. Hence, any data displayed at this point may become drastically different as time passes, following those updates. Google itself has even confirmed that in rare cases, some websites might witness a complete reversal in their performance in the period between the June and July updates. That is why the message is pretty clear: there's no need to panic. It's best to wait things out for a few months first.
What Should You Do If You Were Hit?
Besides knowing there's no need to feel anxious or concerned about your (still) well-made content, the main tip is to be patient. Chances are your pages are great the way they currently are, and sooner or later, your visibility percentages may revert to their original, high values. So just stay on the lookout.
Take into consideration the fact that Google constantly implements updates to search algorithms, including smaller Core Updates that aren't announced, as they aren't widely noticeable in general. Therefore, fluctuations may occur at virtually any point in time. But for those instances when you do see an opportunity to improve something, you may wonder how long it will take for your website or page to recover. The answer isn't a definite one whatsoever, but it's commonly understood that anything impacted by a broad Core Update might not "recover" – assuming there were improvements made, indeed – until the release of the next update. And if not then, it might be the one after that.
Every update presents an opportunity for marketers, and website owners to both consider working on improvements to content, as well as checking if their recent efforts to modify and better optimize their site align with what the algorithms favor. However, also keep in mind that thousands of factors come into play in the changes to website rankings once a Core Update is rolled out. Hence, you're essentially guessing what Google is truly aiming to achieve for each freshly tweaked system.
Granted, Google refers to certain signals about content that help it assess the relevance of a site or page, somewhat as if an actual human is assessing. The way web pages link to each other is one well-known signal. But many, many others are utilized, and these aren't disclosed so as to protect the integrity of search results on Google.
Should You Try Changing The Way You Write and Publish Online?
Again, pages that lose out after a Core Update don't necessarily have a clear issue that requires fixing. Nevertheless, it's understandable to feel like you still need to do something, no matter how minor, to compensate for these drops in performance. What we suggest is to focus on the best content possible on all the pages that should matter to your site and are integral to it. Essentially, quality is king. Quality content is what the algorithms will seek to reward.
As a starting point, take a look at each of your product pages, blog posts, and other site pages to run a self-assessment. Ask yourself a set of questions about the content, as listed below:
• Does it offer original information, research, reporting, or analysis?
• Does it include a comprehensive or substantial description of the topic?
• Is everything free from spelling or stylistic issues?
• Does the headline and/or page title provide a summary of the content that's helpful and insightful?
• Is the headline and/or page title written in a way that doesn't sound shocking? That doesn't exaggerate the story or idea?
• Are all portions of the text produced well? Are certain parts sloppy or hastily done?
• Does it offer an insightful analysis or interesting information that goes beyond what is obvious?
• If it draws from another source or sources, does it avoid simply copying the text and, instead, provides originality and added value?
• Can you see this content referenced by or included in a book, encyclopedia, or printed magazine?
• Are there an excessive number of ads that may distract the reader from viewing the main content?
• Does this page make you want to bookmark it, recommend it or share it with a friend?
• Does everything look neat and complete when viewed on mobile devices?
Conclusion: With Quality Content, Are You Ever in Danger?
We can tell you the answer to this confidently: no. As long as you consistently work on your website and web pages with careful attention to detail, and you make an effort to apply the E-A-T principles in order that everything stays credible, informative, and presentable – you stay clear of danger. It's highly unlikely that your content will raise red flags when the Google bots crawl it post-Core Update.
Quality, influential content is priceless to Google. Like it or not, long gone are the days of keyword-overstuffed, senseless chunks of text. That's just the way it is. So never, ever lose an eye for quality digital content.