Google Releases August 2023 Core Update

Although Google’s search algorithms are updated all the time, sometimes Google makes big changes to them, and these are called ‘broad core updates.’ The latest of these – the appropriately-named ‘August 2023 core update’ — has been announced by Google.

Some site owners experience huge drops in their website traffic as a result of a core update, which obviously has very negative implications for the profitability — or even viability — of their businesses. Equally, other website owners can benefit massively from significant upticks in traffic caused by core updates.

Official announcement on Twitter of the August 2023 core update.
The announcement on Twitter of the August 2023 core update

So given their potential to affect web traffic in such dramatic ways, Google core updates are feared, anticipated and pored over by members of the SEO community — and August 2023’s update looks set to be no different.

Why does Google roll out core updates?

This is how Google describes the purpose of its broad core updates:

Several times a year, we make significant, broad changes to our search algorithms and systems. We refer to these as “core updates.”

They’re designed to ensure that overall, we’re delivering on our mission to present relevant and authoritative content to searchers.

Source: Google Search Central Blog

Although on first inspection this statement sounds a bit vague, if you read it carefully you’ll see that it contains two big hints about why a site may have been demoted in Google’s index: it was perceived by Google to have problems with its relevance and authority.

So essentially, core updates are there to reward content that Google perceives as relevant (it answers a query correctly) and authoritative (i.e., the source of the content is trustworthy).

And every time a core update is rolled out, all the content in Google’s index is re-evaluated and (theoretically at least) the most relevant and authoritative stuff is brought to the fore in search results.

How to tell if your site has been affected by the August 2023 core update

The easiest way to tell if your site has been affected by the latest core update is to use a web stats package (Google Analytics, Fathom Analytics etc.) to compare your site traffic levels both before and after the update release date and time (in this case that’s 22 August, 10:30 PST).

If you see a noticeable and sustained increase or decrease in traffic shortly after the announcement of a core update — and you haven’t made any other significant changes to your website at that precise moment in time — it’s fairly likely you’ve been impacted by the update.

How to recover

If you’ve been negatively affected by the August 2023 core update, there are several things you can do to improve the situation (more on these in just a moment).

However, it’s essential not to take action before the update has finished rolling out. During a core update rollout, search results are often filled with a lot of wild, but temporary, changes in rankings. This is something that SEO experts often refer to as the ‘Google Dance.’

If you’re lucky, you may find that your traffic has actually reverted back to its original level within a couple of weeks (or, in some cases, even increased). So, making massive changes to your site in the middle of a broad core update can actually do more harm than good.

(You can find out precisely when a core update has finished rolling out on Google’s ‘search status dashboard‘. Based on the length of previous ones, it’s likely the August 2023 core update will take about two weeks to fully roll out.)

If — after the update has finished rolling out — you are certain that you’ve lost traffic, the good news is that some simple steps you can take to try to regain it.

These typically involve finding out what the sites now outranking yours are doing better than you; making significant improvements to the quality of your content from a relevance and authority point of view; seeking out higher quality links and brand mentions; and publishing more content.

We spell all these steps out in detail in our full guide to recovering from a core update.

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