How To Prepare Your Website for a Google Core Algorithm Update

Any time you decide to play a game, the first order of business is to learn the rules. After all, you’ll never win if you don’t understand how the game works at its deepest level. Once you know the ins and outs of the rulebook, you’ll have a better chance of developing a winning SEO strategy and beating out the competition.

In a sense, search engine optimization is a massive, complicated game. You have your opponents in the form of other businesses, and Google’s algorithms serve as the rules. Unfortunately for SEO professionals, the rules of this particular game are constantly changing. 

Google Core Algorithm Update

Google regularly tweaks its algorithms, changing a priority here or there, and these are the usual adjustments that SEO experts have to deal with. Imagine a soccer league rewriting the handball rule to make it a bit more strict. The change would certainly have an impact, but the game itself would remain relatively unchanged.

While regular algorithm tweaks are minor in scope, a Google core algorithm rollout represents a massive shakeup that could change the game in fundamental ways. Imagine the soccer league doubling the size of the field or getting rid of goalkeepers. The result wouldn’t be a slight adjustment in players’ attitudes but a complete upheaval in the game’s game and teams would have to change their tactics accordingly. 

If you’re going to run a successful long-term SEO operation, you can’t let these core updates catch you by surprise. They’re always going to happen, and all you can do as a professional is prepare for them properly. 

While there’s no magic defense against a reshuffling of Google’s core algorithm, there are a few strategies you can take. On a basic level, preparing for a Google core algorithm update comes down to working hard to make your site as valuable as possible to the user. 

search engine result pages - SERPs
Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs)

Google’s Core Algorithm Explained

To grasp what a core algorithm update is all about, you need to understand how Google’s system works. As you surely know, the search engine works by using a series of algorithms to rank content on the web. These algorithms are designed to promote the material that will be most useful to the people conducting searches.

It’s vital to note that not all of Google’s algorithms are of equal importance. Some exist on the periphery of the system, weighing specific factors and making little choices. The core algorithms, meanwhile, are the most important. Sitting at the center of the entire system, these algorithms make the fundamental decisions that set the parameters for the rest of the operation.

The Center of the System

To better make sense of the situation, try picturing Google’s algorithm structure as a wheel with many spokes. This isn’t a perfect representation, but it should suffice to give you the basic idea. The core algorithms sit at the wheel’s hub, which offers the entire system its weight. Each spoke represents a minor set of algorithms dealing with all sorts of ranking factors, including relevance, speed, and backlinks. While these outlying algorithms have a significant role, it’s the core that brings them all together.

A Divided Core

The core of Google’s structure is itself a complicated mass of various algorithms. These algorithms each have a separate function and focus on different search ranking factors. What brings them together is that they’re all working to control the outlying algorithms and give the system a general, unified thrust.

What Does a Core Algorithm Update Entail?

Core algorithm changes affect the innermost chamber of Google’s entire system. The changes are usually meant to improve the search engine’s ranking system to enhance user experience. Remember, Google’s main objective is to show its users the results they’ll most value when searching. Tweaking the core algorithms can help realign the entire system, making users more likely to see the information they’re truly after. 

Google Search
Google Search Query

For SEO professionals, Google algorithm updates represent a significant shift. The update will bring fundamental changes in how Google collects information and uses it to rank pages. Accounting for these changes allows you to optimize content for the latest iteration of Google. The world of Google is incredibly fluid, and you’ll only be successful if you know how to keep up with the times. 

What are Google Updates?

Google’s core is a complicated, intricate set of algorithms. This complexity means that no two core algorithm updates will be the same, and Google changes different aspects of its core for various reasons. To make sense of a core update, it pays to know precisely what significant changes have been made. 

There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of changes that Google can make to its core algorithms. With that being said, core updates usually focus on a few key areas, and these are the parts of the core that you can expect future updates to address.


Some core updates focus less on the actual ranking of pages and more on how the pages are indexed within the system. While less evident in their repercussions for SEO managers, these updates can still significantly affect Google’s general operations.

Language Comprehension

One of Google’s principal tasks is to make sense of the text on web pages. After all, the search engine needs to understand what a page is saying before deciding whether users would like to see it. A change in the core can adjust how algorithms throughout the system interpret the language they encounter. 

Newly-Compressed Algorithms

Like any system composed of intricate moving parts, Google must constantly decide how to delegate tasks. Should multiple algorithms handle a particular concern, or would it be better to have just one algorithm doing all the work? Sometimes, these types of discussions prompt Google to merge multiple algorithms into a single strand.

Broad Signal fluctuations

Remember that the core sets the tone for Google’s entire system, telling outlying algorithms how to do their jobs. Now and then, Google will adjust the broad signals that the core transmits to the rest of the system. This update will affect how the outlying algorithms measure factors like trust and quality.

E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness)

In general, users are most interested in content produced by genuine experts, carries the weight of authority, and comes from a trustworthy source. Google’s job, therefore, is to find the pages that meet these standards. When Google’s search engine undergoes a core algorithm update, it’s usually because designers are hoping to refine their methods, using a tweaked system to determine which pages truly embody expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. 

Learn from Historical Updates

When preparing for the future, it’s best to learn from the past. It’s best to learn about major updates like the page experience update, Medic, Bert, Penguin, Panda, Spam update, and mobile-first indexing.

Preparing for a Core Algorithm Update

Anyone working in SEO needs to prepare themselves for the core updates that Google has in store. There’s no use complaining about the inevitable. Core updates are coming whether you want them to or not, and all you can do is put yourself in the best possible position to emerge from the transition unscathed.

Preparing for a core update doesn’t require unique expertise or occult methods, and what it needs is nothing more than doubling down on your current SEO efforts. If you go the extra mile to optimize your content and provide value for users, you should come out of the following core update with as high a ranking as ever.

Focus on E-A-T

As you read above, Google’s core updates usually revolve around a refined understanding of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. If you know these factors that a future update will address, it makes sense to start prioritizing them before the changes arrive. Ensure you get the backlinks you need to enhance your site’s authority and purge your content of any gimmicky tricks that could hurt your Google ranking.

Enhance User Experience

Google doesn’t update its search algorithms for fun, and it updates them to provide users with an enhanced experience (UX, page speed load times). As a website owner, SEO expert, or webmaster, it’s your job to create high-quality content that users appreciate. That way, your pages will coincide with the core mission of Google’s future updates, increasing the likelihood that changes will help rather than hurt your content’s visibility. This can be accomplished by optimizing for Core web vitals, mobile-friendliness, better usability, and creating better content that fulfills search intent.

Beat Out the Competition

In a certain sense, search engine optimization is a zero-sum game. Every core update will reshuffle the pack, bringing some content up in the ranking while pushing others farther down. You need your site to be among those that benefit from the next update. To increase your chances of success, strive to stay laser-focused on what’s at stake. This includes identifying key ranking signals, optimizing for PageRank, creating a mobile-friendly experience, and keeping an eye on your metrics using Google Search Console. Remember that your competitors are working relentlessly to optimize their content, and try your hardest to do even more. 

Conclusion: Make the Next Update Work in Your Favor

You’re hardly alone in the world of SEO if a broad core algorithm update sounds like a scary proposition. You’ve been playing the game by a particular set of rules, and it’s only natural that you’d be wary of a sudden change. However, it’s important to remember that a core update represents an opportunity as much as a risk. 

Google adjusts its ranking algorithm to find better, more valuable content for its users. If you prepare for the coming updates by improving your pages and doubling down on your SEO efforts, the following core algorithm update could bring you right where you want to be: at the top of the Google results page.


Published on: 2021-11-30
Updated on: 2022-06-09

Avatar for Isaac Adams-Hands

Isaac Adams-Hands

Isaac Adams-Hands is the SEO Director at SEO North, a company that provides Search Engine Optimization services. As an SEO Professional, Isaac has considerable expertise in On-page SEO, Off-page SEO, and Technical SEO, which gives him a leg up against the competition.