The Ultimate Timeline of 8 Major Google Algorithm Updates in 2022 and 2023

Google updates its search algorithms annually to make search results more relevant. The account of such updates goes to thousands. Of course, the corporation does not inform the public about every update. Usually, only the most large-scale updates of the core and ranking algorithms are heard.

So, in 2021, 8 major updates were deployed, and no less are planned for 2022. In this article, we will take everything in order and tell you how to prepare for the 2022 updates.

The article was prepared by Roman Ivanina with the participation of Eric Klyuev, Head of SEO of the Internet marketing agency Elit-Web. Also, Read – Prepare your SEO strategy for 2022 – A recap of the top 2021 updates

Full list of Google Core Updates in 2021

Let’s look at the updates of 2021 – both those that greatly influenced the position of many resources in the search results, as well as smaller ones. Including updates that do not yet work in the Russian-speaking segment of the Internet.

Passage Ranking (February 2021)

The updated algorithm allows Google to show pages in the search results where at least some of the information matches the user’s query.

Previously, it was like this: if the material on the page did not match the request, it did not appear in the search results.

What changed?

Now, user requests are given not only articles on a given topic but also those where only part of the material matches the request. The ranking goes like this:

  • the algorithm checks the document for fragments that match the query and that can be selected;
  • the system highlights relevant passages and puts them in the search results.

The update is designed to help users find the requested information easier and faster, and for site owners to work more carefully with content.

Who is affected by the update?

The updated algorithm is designed to help resources that publish high-quality and useful materials for users, but do not optimize their content for all relevant queries.

Recommendations for webmasters

No need to try to specifically optimize the texts on the site for Passage Ranking. If your content is informative and well structured, no further action is required. The algorithm itself will detect the necessary passages and issue them according to the relevant request.

About This Result Function (February 2021)

The new feature is designed to provide the user with more information about the search result without having to go to the site and look for it on their own.

What changed?

Now, next to the search results, a menu has appeared in which you can find out information about the date of the first indexing of the page, the security of the connection, and the type of issue result: organic or advertising.

Who is affected by the update?

At the moment, the function works only in English. There is no timeline yet for its implementation for search results in other languages.

Recommendations for webmasters

The webmaster cannot directly influence the About This Result information. But in the future, it is planned to expand information about the web resource in the menu: a description of the site, mentions of other resources, and a list of similar articles. There is time and reason to work on the content inside the site and on external publications.

Product Reviews Update (April 2021)

According to Google, the company’s specialists found that reviews and reviews containing detailed information about the product are of interest to users more than general information and characteristics. Therefore, the ranking systems have been redesigned so that exhaustive reviews rank higher. Also, Read – What are the benefits of product reviews?

What changed?

Search algorithms have become more demanding on the quality of text product reviews and reviews. In the issue, priority will be given to materials that meet the updated Google criteria.

Who is affected by the update?

Anyone who creates reviews of goods and services. Sites that focus on such content (for example, affiliate resources ) need to take an even more thorough approach to the content of their pages.

Currently, the Product Reviews Update only affects search in English.

Recommendations for webmasters

Google makes a number of recommendations for authors when compiling reviews and testimonials, as well as for webmasters when posting them:

  • If possible, add an expert opinion about the product to the review;
  • Conduct an in-depth analysis of the product, and not just list the technical characteristics;
  • Compose and publish a description of the product in terms of its use;
  • Use only unique content, do not copy reviews and testimonials from other sites;
  • Objectively evaluate the pros and cons of the product.

Thus, the more high-quality, relevant, comprehensive and objective material about the product you prepare, the better.

Google June 2021 Core Update + Predatory Sites Algorithm

This is the first phase of the Google Core Algorithm Update rollout, which kicked off on June 2, 2021. Along with it, another important update was released – Predatory Sites Algorithm. Its purpose is to prevent any defamatory, fraudulent, or other dangerous web resources from appearing in the search results. Also, Read – Google Ranking Factors: The 200+ Google Ranking Factors

What changed?

Many tools have been updated: Lighthouse, PageSpeed ​​Insights, Chrome UX Report and Search Console reports. The weight of the LCP, CLS and TBT metrics in Lighthouse has also changed, which Google pays special attention to.

Who is affected by the update?

The update particularly affected categories of sites related to art, entertainment, computers, electronics, finance and games.

It is also noted that this was the most significant update since December 2020 – this can be seen in the comparison of volatility for both core updates:

Recommendations for webmasters

Google recommends working on filling the site with content and analyzing it according to a number of parameters:

  1. How high quality and relevant content is for your target audience?
  2. Is the information on your site correct?
  3. Is the content correctly formatted, is the structure understandable in it, and are there spelling and stylistic errors?
  4. Is your content unique in relation to the content of competitors, and does it contain more useful information?

This is not the first and not the last time that Google recommends paying special attention to content. And no wonder – together with links, content is one of the most important ranking factors.

Google July 2021 Core Update + Link Spam Update

Here we see a logical extension of the summer 2021 updates. This is a continuation and addition of the previous update with an emphasis on Core Web Vitals (“basic Internet indicators”) – a new Google ranking criterion for three parameters: LCP, FID and CLS. Also, Read – iOS vs Android: Which System Is More Secure?

What changed?

When ranking computers, three main Internet indicators are taken into account:

  1. LCP – load speed of the largest and “heaviest” element on the page. The recommended render duration is 2.5 seconds or less.
  2. FID – waiting time before interaction. The recommended time to interaction is 100 milliseconds or less.
  3. CLS is the cumulative layout offset. What matters is how the layout shifts as content loads —images, banner ads, video thumbnails, and so on. The lower the CLS value, the better. This parameter can be measured using the Layout Instability API for the browser (available on GitHub ). A good CLS is up to 0.1.

At the same time, the Link Spam Update was deployed, a tool to combat link spam on websites. Google recommends using rel=”nofollow” for guest posts and rel=”sponsored” for affiliate links.

Who is affected by the update?

Most of all, the update affects the positions of sites with “heavy” pages, unstable layout, slow loading and unfinished UX. If the position of the site sank a lot after the July update, you need to look for the reason here.

Recommendations for webmasters

Google makes clear recommendations for webmasters:

  • Remove intrusive ads, ads and banners that block content or interfere with its perception;
  • Speed up JavaScript execution;
  • Implement lazy loading where appropriate;
  • Optimize images and compress them if necessary;
  • Ensure correct dimensions and aspect ratio for images;
  • Improve server response time.

That is, Google recommends that webmasters focus on UX optimization as much as possible.

It is also highly recommended to analyze your site’s Core Web Vitals. To do this, you can use Chrome User Experience or the corresponding report in Google Search Console.

November 2021 Core Update + Spam Update

Many called this update one of the fastest and strongest. So, in the first days of deployment, quite significant fluctuations were noted.

Data provided by SEMrush Sensor

Many companies also reported significant jumps in positions in the early stages of the rollout of the update. The November update was 12% more volatile than the July update and 23% more volatile in mobile search results.

By mid-December, when the deployment was completed, the situation had returned to normal and the hesitation had passed.

Also in November, another Spam Update was rolled out to improve user experience and protect users from spam in any form.

What changed?

The UX of web pages plays an even bigger role in rankings, and endless scrolling has appeared in mobile SERPs. Instead of the “Show more” button, the following results will be loaded automatically. At the moment, infinite scrolling in mobile SERPs only works in the United States.

Product snippets in Google desktop results now show multiple product photos by category.

Also, from now on, Google will rely on the automatic generation of snippets, extracting information in the Title from headings, anchors on the page, text passages on the page, or directly from the Title tag.

Who is affected by the update?

The update affects all sites, but tracking changes will not be easy. Google recommends paying attention to the positions of the site to those who lost them during previous updates.

Recommendations for webmasters

If a site is down after a Core Update is deployed, Google recommends paying close attention to content and answering a series of questions:

  1. Does the content provide original and useful information to the reader?
  2. Is the topic covered in sufficient depth and detail?
  3. Is your content unique?
  4. Are the headings and subheadings relevant to the content?
  5. Are there exaggerations, shocking phrases, and other elements in the headlines that deceptively engage readers?

If the position of your resource has not changed or has grown, no additional action is required.

Google does not give recommendations for webmasters specifically on Spam Update but reminds me. them of the general rules:

  1. Fill sites with content for users, not for search engines.
  2. Don’t mislead readers.
  3. Do not use tricks to increase your rating.
  4. Create useful and relevant content, and update it if necessary.

Google also recommends regularly monitoring attempts to hack your site to notice if attackers change, remove or add new content. For example, spam. Also, Read – Learn how to stop unwanted messages

Product Reviews Update (December 2021)

This is the last significant Google update in 2021, which became the ideological continuation of the April update.

The main point of the update: is the need to provide factual evidence that the product was actually received and tested for review, as well as the recommendation to give several links to purchase instead of one.

What changed?

It is now very important to attach various media files to reviews: photos, video or audio, which confirm the quality of the product and its availability to the user. Also, next to the product, it is now worth adding links to several sellers, increasing the likelihood of a purchase.

Who is affected by the update?

Like the April Product Reviews, the update affects site owners with the ability to post reviews and testimonials. However, the deployment of the update for Russian-language web resources has not yet begun.

Recommendations for webmasters

Webmasters are encouraged to allow users to attach photos, videos, audio and other media files to reviews and reviews. Aggregators are encouraged to include links to several sellers next to the product so that users can compare different options and make the right decision.

Expert opinion

“The current Google updates have not caused such concerns for a long time as they used to. Five years ago, after the next update, it was quite possible to get a drawdown of 50-60%. Now, this is almost out of the question. And it’s not just that we have become more experienced. Google approaches updates much more carefully, leaving ways to roll back if something goes wrong during the deployment of the next update. Over the past few years, there has not been a single update that would have really tangibly affected the position of client sites. If there were serious changes in positions, it was in favour of the resources we are promoting. Therefore, there is no panic about the next update and there should not be” ( Eric Klyuev, Head of SEO Elit-Web).

What’s new Google is preparing for 2022

From February 22 to March 3, 2022, the Page Experience update was deployed – the algorithms for ranking sites and search results for personal computers were updated, taking into account the convenience of the pages and their accessibility to the user. The update focuses on the following ranking factors:

  • Core Web Vitals (LCP+CLS+FID)
  • Secure connection via HTTPS protocol
  • No intrusive interstitial ads

If your site does not meet these requirements, it will not rise in the search results. But the fall in the rating does not yet indicate a discrepancy. It can only mean that competitors’ sites match them better, as a result of which their positions have grown and strengthened.

Also released in March 2022 is the Product Reviews Update, the third update in a series launched back in 2021. According to Google, thanks to this update, the positions of sites that publish detailed reviews based on real personal experience will increase.

How to be ready for any update and minimize the drawdown of positions and traffic

For ourselves, we have formed a checklist of 10 factors that will affect the ranking in 2022:

  1. Implementing artificial intelligence and changing the way users interact with content. Google AI is most focused on three content ranking factors: images, page theme, and intent (need) in the search query.
  2. Voice search and support for smart assistants: Google Assistant, Siri, etc. You need to speed up the site (set up caching, remove unused data, optimize images, integrate AMP if it makes sense for certain pages), work out quick response blocks (highlighted descriptions), set up FAQ pages, optimize the site for mobile devices, collect and implement low-frequency tail queries, structure data and optimize pages for local search.
  3. Emphasis on video content. Cisco estimates that around 82% of all consumer web traffic in 2022 will be video. This is a good reason to seriously address the issue of creating video content – reviews, presentations, testimonials, entertainment materials, etc.
  4. Adaptation for mobile devices. If you have not yet adapted the site for mobile devices, you need to do it as soon as possible.
  5. Google EAT and emphasis on content quality. These are signals of expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness – expertise, authority and reliability. Involve experts to create content, take care of the informativeness of the “About the company” page, and build up your link profile.
  6. Featured Snippets. These are highlighted descriptions that appear at the top of the issue and answer the question asked, extracting the necessary information from the page. Sites from the TOP-10 search results appear in these blocks. Highlighted descriptions are shown above all other results, so you can benefit from them more than getting into the TOP 3.
  7. The quality of text content and its volume. We have already talked about the quality of content, but not about volumes. Google does not give clear recommendations that the text on the site should be within a certain scope. The main thing is that it should be relevant, useful to the reader and relevant to his request. Both short notes for a couple of hundred characters and huge long reads are indexed. We, based on personal experience, when working with SEO texts, recommend working with volumes of 2,500 – 5,000 characters or more.
  8. Availability of content for all categories of users. Titles, audio descriptions, alt fills for images, selection of contrasting colours and readable fonts, correct display of the page when zoomed multiple times – all this makes the content more accessible to a wide range of resource users.
  9. user experience. Convenience, navigation and the logical structure of the site are extremely important. Make sure that the UX / UI of your site meets the current requirements of search engines and users.
  10. Optimization and download speed. These are still key ranking factors. If pages take more than 3 seconds to load, optimize the speed, otherwise, you will lose traffic and positions in the SERP. It is also important to understand that Google is not estimating the time it takes for a page to fully load, but the time it takes for the first render to become available and interactive.

To learn about current and upcoming updates in a timely manner, we recommend that you follow the updates on the official Google pages:

  • Google Search Central Twitter account
  • Search Console Center Blog
  • Google Search Central Help Community
  • Google Search Central RSS feed
  • YouTube channel of the Search Console Center

Minimize the impact of updates on your site’s position

Google understands that all major updates somehow force webmasters and site owners to change their work strategy, and sometimes on an emergency basis. Therefore, they notify about such updates in advance, and often also give useful recommendations in connection with the updates. So that your positions do not sink, follow the news and use the advice of experts.

But the most important thing is to regularly work on SEO, track positions, optimize your site to meet new requirements, and build high-quality external link mass. And then the updates will not pose any threat to you. Rather, on the contrary, they will contribute to the growth of positions in a short time.

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