To say this is breaking news is an understatement. Let me elaborate:
Google constantly updates their algorithm, but these updates are never announced. So naturally, when Google announces a broad core algorithm update on their Twitter account, you know that it’s going to be a huge deal, and there’s going to be a lot of tears on Reddit and forums.
What to Do If Your Numbers Drop?
Long story short – you can do nothing. As with every major Google update, there are winners and losers, seemingly at random. You might not even notice any impact on your rankings at all.
Google themselves stated the following:
We confirm broad core updates because they typically produce some widely notable effects. Some sites may note drops or gains during them. We know those with sites that experience drops will be looking for a fix, and we want to ensure they don’t try to fix the wrong things. Moreover, there might not be anything to fix at all.
This means that there might be nothing wrong with your page, or that there is something VERY wrong with it. Google always distances themselves from the allegations that they might be targeting specific pages with a core update. Still, patterns always emerge when certain niches get hit hard.
What’s the Update About?
As Google stated, the update will be all about refreshing their index with new content. The analogy they gave was to take the update the same as a list of best movies of all time made in 2015 being updated in 2019 to take into consideration what came since.
Best part was here that as they’ve stated:
“… You might also reassess some films and realize they deserved a higher place on the list than they had before.
The list will change, and films previously higher on the list that move down aren’t bad. There are simply more deserving films that are coming before them.”
The Focus, Of Course, Is on Content
Google explicitly states that if you get a drop in ranks after this update, it is nothing to worry about. Chances are you’ll be trying to fix something that’s not broken. But, they recommend to assess your content by following the Quality Rater Guidelines. It’s a long read, but it’s worth it.
How Long to Recover from an Algorithm Change Hit?
Core updates such as these happen many times a year. A site that was hit because of an issue, and does not address it, won’t recover from a hit. Even if you do fix everything, it still might not recover until the next broad core update.
The silver lining is that between these updates, Google does constant minor ones. So, chances are your site might recover during one of these minor updates.
What’s important to note here is no matter of the improvements you make, there isn’t any guarantee you’ll recover. If your competitor offers better content, you’ll get outranked, and that's the end of your story.
The rest of Google’s statement about core updates is the same old “we focus on user signals, as our search engine does not understand content as humans do” fact.
We wish we had all the answers to algorithm updates, but sadly, nobody does. There is an excellent article from Ignite Visibility with an Analysis of Google September Algorithm Update if you want to read more about it. However, what’s left is to hope our websites don’t get hit by it (and secretly hope our competitors do.)
What’s left for us is to provide the best content possible for our audience, and search engines will most definitely notice it.