Google had a major ‘core’ update at the start of last month, and it affected some businesses quite heavily. I don’t normally draw too much attention to these updates as they happen, as there’s not much we can do about them, but it’s usually worth looking at our website visitor analytics a few weeks later to see if we were impacted. Of course, this time any effect will have been experienced over the holiday period, so it may be harder to spot, but use the feature in Google Analytics to compare to a similar period a year before (e.g. early November to early January) and that might highlight any unusual movements.
Google doesn’t usually tell us what changes it’s made in its algorithmic updates (and probably barely comprehends their effect itself), so it’s almost impossible to work out what aspects of our websites might have caused any fall or rise in traffic. However, it did issue some general guidelines a while back, including loads of questions we might ask ourselves when assessing what’s happened. It describes ‘core updates’ like this:
One way to think of how a core update operates is to imagine you made a list of the top 100 movies in 2015. A few years later in 2019, you refresh the list. It’s going to naturally change. Some new and wonderful movies that never existed before will now be candidates for inclusion. 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 notes are well worth a read.