Google is always updating its famed search algorithm. Occasionally, the company makes what it calls a “broad core” algorithm update. The latest of these came on March 12 of this year, and Google actually confirmed the update, which the company doesn’t always do.
Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan wrote, “This week, we released a broad core algorithm update, as we do several times per year. Our guidance about such updates remains as we’ve covered before.”
Of course, when this happens, there is a flurry of attention across the web as everyone tries to figure out what the changes are, and more important, how the changes will affect either their site’s ranking or the ranking of the sites of their clients.
Let’s see what the talk is around this “broad core” update.
It may be helpful to start at that piece of advice from Mr. Sullivan about prior guidance. This was part of that past advice about broad core updates to which he referred. Interesting, this tweet was from March 12, 2018, exactly one year ago:
“Each day, Google usually releases one or more changes designed to improve our results. Some are focused around specific improvements. Some are broad changes. Last week, we released a broad core algorithm update. We do these routinely several times per year.
As with any update, some sites may note drops or gains. There’s nothing wrong with pages that may now perform less well. Instead, it’s that changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded.
There’s no “fix” for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.”
So, they’re saying don’t sweat it, just keep building great sites and you’ll be fine. That’s our goal every day at Advice, but it’s still fun to try and figure out what may have changed with the 2019 March 12 update.
What is a “broad core” update anyway?
As Google mentioned above, the company is always tweaking its algorithm to fix and improve search. The broad core updates are more involved, however. These updates are improvements to the overall algorithm. The goal with these changes is for the algorithm to better understand search queries and the webpages the algorithm is trying to match with those queries.
The point of these changes is to improve the user experience, meaning if a person is searching for “Why do pugs have flat faces?” the algorithm doesn’t return sites about boxers. But you can see the difficulty of that example. Boxers are also known as “pugilists,” which is sometimes shortened to “pugs.” And boxers have notoriously flat noses from being pounding upon all the time.
Still, it’s likely the searcher wanted to known about the dog breed, not Rocky Balboa, so it returns this SERP page: (image coming soon)
Updates are meant to keep refining the experience to get the above query/site match correct. That satisfies searchers and they’ll stay on sites longer and Google will make more money and everyone is happy.
So, what are people saying about this update?
Some theories out there believe this update has targeted specific industries, but Google has always maintained that its broad core updates do not do this. Google says these updates do not target any specific niche but instead update the overall algorithm.
Others point to what Sullivan said about content. They posit that the changes in this update are meant to weigh the relevance of content and how the quality of that content relates to search queries.
Bottom line, no one knows what Google knows — what this March 12 update focused on is all conjecture at this point. From our standpoint, we love what Mr. Sullivan said at the end of his 2018 tweet. He said to remain focused on building great content:
“Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.”
Amen to that. At Advice Media, great websites with excellent, fresh content are exactly what we supply for our practices every day.