If you noticed your search rankings change since last week, rest assured you’re not the only one.
On June 2, Google released a core update to its search engine. Beginning at 6:30 pm that day, the update made broad, sweeping changes to the way Google ranks web pages.
The changes at first went unnoticed. Compared to previous core updates, the rollout was slow, happening over several days rather than at once. But by Friday and early Saturday, SEOs started to see some big shake-ups.
June 2021 Core Update: What’s Affected
Google doesn’t publish specifics about its core updates, so it’s not easy to piece together every little change.
Still, marketers and data providers have been hard at work sifting through the details. From the looks of things, this was a big update—bigger than the last core update in December 2020. And with several more updates scheduled for later June and July, there’s sure to be a whole lot of volatility in search ranks for at least the next month.
Here’s what we know so far about the June 2021 core update:
- The biggest changes occurred June 4–6. Data from Semrush shows that rankings stayed relatively stable June 2–3 and that the biggest changes happened on June 4 and June 5:
- Some industries were affected more than others. According to Semrush, five industries were most affected by this update: health, automotive, pets and animals, science, and travel.
- More changes are to come. Google will be unveiling a second core update in July. Another major update, which will add Core Web Vitals as a ranking factor, is to launch sometime mid-June.
What Is a Core Update?
Every day, Google makes small, incremental tweaks to its search algorithm.
Most of these changes go unnoticed. But occasionally, Google will release a sweeping set of changes called a core update. These are deeper, more systematic changes that can have a significant impact on how web pages rank and perform.
One way to think of how a core update operates is to imagine that in 2015 you made a list of the top 100 movies. A few years later in 2019, you refresh the list. It's going to naturally change.
—Danny Sullivan, Public Liaison for Search, Google
Normally, a core update comes every few months and sends SEOs into panic mode. But this one was a little different. Rolled out over several days, the changes were less perceptible, more gradual. And with two more updates on the horizon, it’s safe to say everyone’s waiting for the dust to settle before rushing to make major marketing changes.
One Update Down, Two More to Go
The June core update is just one of three major scheduled updates.
Google’s announced a second core update for July 2021. It will likely build on the June update, adding new changes that weren’t quite ready for release.
The third major update has been teased for some time. Last year, Google announced it would develop a new set of ranking factors, called Core Web Vitals, which will aim to evaluate web pages based on how easy they are to access and navigate. The update implementing Core Web Vitals—called the page experience update—is scheduled to start rollout mid-June and finish by the end of August.
What to Do If Your Rankings Have Been Hit
If you’ve seen a slight drop in your rankings with the June core update, don’t panic. We’re in a state of flux where things are still changing. You may find your rankings return to normal with the July core update.
If your rankings have dropped significantly, Google offers some general guidance on how to fix them. They don’t give you any specific actions, but they do recommend asking yourself some questions:
- Does the content provide original information, reporting, research, or analysis?
- Is the content in-depth and comprehensive?
- Is the content correct, accurate, and free from spelling or stylistic errors?
- Does the content display well on mobile devices?
Need Help Navigating the New Updates?
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