How to advertise with Google

The art of SEO resilience: staying visible through Google Core Updates 

Harlan Dave Tantog

The default tool for verifying and finding out information are search engines – particularly Google. Hence, Google aims to improve the quality and relevance of its search results by releasing its core updates.  

Google Core updates are changes to Google’s search algorithms and systems. They ensure that users get the most helpful and reliable results every time they enter a search query.  

Let’s dive into what they are in this article. Are you ready? 

An intro to Google algorithm updates 

To improve how Google search works, several updates took place, and we’ll take a quick look at each of them below:  

Panda Update 

The Panda Update, which made its debut on February 23, 2011, is a significant Google algorithm overhaul for combating black hat SEO tactics and webspam. This update introduced a game-changing approach by classifying web pages based on their quality, inspired by human quality ratings, and subsequently incorporating this classification as a ranking factor. 

The Panda algorithm is a pivotal moment in Google’s journey towards prioritizing content quality and enhancing user experience. Its introduction represents Google’s inaugural stride in this direction. 

Over time, the Panda algorithm has undergone numerous revisions, with the most recent one occurring in 2021. Notably, in 2016, five years after its initial introduction, Panda ceased to operate as a mere filter applied to Google’s algorithm. It was fully integrated into Google’s core algorithm, where it now plays a pivotal role as one of the primary ranking factors.  

This transition signifies the enduring significance of Panda’s influence on the ranking and quality assessment of web content. 

Penguin Update 

Google’s Penguin update, in April 2012, marked a pivotal shift in search engine rankings. It targets websites that violate Google Search Essentials, formerly Webmaster Guidelines, by employing Grey Hat SEM (Search Engine Marketing) techniques to artificially boost page rankings. These techniques often manipulate the number of links pointing to a page. 

This update underwent multiple updates and seamlessly integrated into Google’s core algorithm, operating in real-time. As a result of this integration, penalties stemming from algorithm violations have become less common, though they still exist in both partial and site-wide formats. 

The overarching goal of this algorithm was to assert greater control and diminish the effectiveness of various black hat spamming techniques. To achieve this, Penguin focused on comprehending and processing the types of links that websites and webmasters were acquiring.  

In doing so, it ensured that natural, authoritative, and contextually relevant links were rewarded with improved rankings, while manipulative and spammy links were downgraded. This adjustment served to create a more equitable and trustworthy web environment. 

Hummingbird Update 

In August 2013, Google transformed its search algorithm with the groundbreaking Hummingbird update. It aimed to meet the evolving needs of mobile users, especially improving conversational search. 

A month later, Google officially introduced this update, which became the most significant change since 2001. At its core, Hummingbird embraced semantic search, prioritizing the meaning of queries over matching keywords. This made Google more adaptable to mobile, voice searches, and responsive to long-tail questions, mirroring human communication. 

Despite its profound impact, Google kept the details of Hummingbird’s inner workings private. Interestingly, the immediate effects were subtle, despite its pivotal role in search technology’s evolution. 

How the google core update is different 

Google’s core algorithm updates, Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird, aim to enhance search result quality. 

Panda, 2011, tackles low-quality content, downgrading pages with thin, duplicate content or high ad ratios based on quality scores. 

Penguin, introduced in 2012, penalizes sites employing manipulative link schemes, with a focus on black-hat SEO practices, assigning spam scores. 

Launched in 2013, Hummingbird overhauled Google’s algorithm to better understand user queries. It uses natural language processing, considering user intent and conversational queries for more relevant results. 

In summary, while Panda and Penguin improve content and links, Hummingbird’s complete algorithm rework centers on providing highly relevant search results by enhancing query understanding. 

How often do Google Core Updates happen? 

Google Developers makes significant and broad changes to its search algorithms and systems multiple times a year. These are known as core updates. Google typically announces them just a few days before or on the day of the update via official channels like X, formerly Twitter, and its Search Central blog

Crucially, these core updates are meticulously planned months in advance and can take several weeks to fully roll out. They have the potential to significantly impact Google search engine optimization (SEO). 

Google SEO’s core principle is to align your website and its presence with Google’s ranking algorithm. When a core update is released, the ranking algorithm undergoes change. Thus, emphasizing the importance of staying up-to-date and ready whenever updates take place.  

Google Core Updates vs minor updates 

Google’s core algorithm comprises algorithms that assess webpage signals to rank content that best serves search queries. Core algorithm updates modify various elements of Google’s algorithm, often yielding more conspicuous changes. The goal is to enhance the algorithm’s quality. Thus, providing users with the most pertinent, precise, and current search results. Importantly, core algorithm updates don’t single out individual websites or pages. 

Conversely, algorithmic updates focus on a specific facet of Google’s algorithm. These updates are directed at resolving particular issues or refining specific aspects of the search engine’s performance. 

Scope and impact 

Core updates are substantial changes to Google’s search algorithms, occurring several times each year. They’re crafted to uphold Google’s mission of providing helpful and reliable search results. 

These updates can significantly impact Google SEO. The core idea of Google SEO is to adapt your website and online presence to align with Google’s ranking algorithm. When a core update is rolled out, the ranking algorithm undergoes modifications. 

While core updates don’t intend to target specific sites or pages, they can lead to previously lower-ranked pages gaining visibility, while once-favored pages might decline in rankings. 

To navigate the impact of core updates effectively, consider these best practices: 

  • Prioritize offering the best possible content, as Google’s algorithms aim to reward quality. 
  • Analyze the pages most affected by drops in rankings and assess how they perform against self-assessment questions. 
  • Seek feedback from unbiased, trusted sources unrelated to your site to gain an honest assessment of your content’s quality. 

Preparing for a Core Update: What to do before, during, and after 

There is no set schedule for when Google Core Update takes place, but you can still prepare for it. 

Before the Core Update  

Thoroughly review website content for relevance and quality. It should be accurate, align with user intent, and meet Google’s E.A.T. guidelines. 

Prioritize the overall user experience, focusing on navigation, page loading times, and mobile friendliness. Ensure content is well-formatted for easy reading. 

Guarantee user-friendly and logical website navigation and optimize loading times to retain user engagement and support SEO rankings. 

During the Core Update 

When managing algorithm updates, it’s essential to monitor key metrics like website traffic, rankings, and conversions throughout the update and beyond. Expect fluctuations in these metrics as Google reevaluates its ranking criteria, and exercise patience during this period. To maintain clarity in your data, add a Google Analytics annotation to pinpoint the precise timing of the update. 

Avoid making rushed changes to your website or SEO strategy during the update, as this may disrupt your site’s performance. Instead, grant Google the necessary time to fully implement and stabilize the changes before considering significant adjustments. This measured approach ensures that your decisions are based on the most accurate and stable data. 

After the Core Update 

After an algorithm update, it’s essential to assess its impact on your website’s performance, scrutinizing shifts in rankings, traffic, and user behavior. Identify specific pages that have experienced significant changes in both ranking and traffic patterns. 

For pages that have seen a drop in rankings, focus on enhancing the content to better align with user search intent, making it more relevant. Emphasize delivering user value across your site by eliminating duplicate or underperforming content. 

Keep a watchful eye on any alterations in keyword intent within search engine results pages (SERPs) and adjust your strategy accordingly. During the post-update period, it’s important to be patient as the effects of the update stabilize. 

Maintain an ongoing commitment to making incremental improvements to your website while continuing to monitor its performance. This proactive approach allows your site to adapt to evolving search algorithms effectively. 

Google Core Update is all about user-centric content 

The ever-evolving nature of SEO necessitates adapting to Google Core Updates. This involves an understanding of their significance and impact on website visibility. 

To maintain long-term success, prioritize continuous improvement and the creation of user-centric content. This approach ensures sustained relevance and visibility for your website. Get our experts to help you stay on top of your SEO game today.

  • Harlan Dave Tantog

    As a Technical Writer at, Harlan creates content that any reader can understand. With his background in technical and customer support, he incorporates his technical knowledge and deconstructs complex ideas and concepts into easy to digest texts. Outside work, you'll see him playing volleyball, jumping off cliffs, and drinking coffee at cafes.

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