By Thursday Google stated that the update was mostly complete, but that “as with any core update, it may take [up] to two weeks to fully complete.”
These core updates usually happen around once a quarter. The update prior to this one happened in September, which seemed to be a much slower roll out. The January update seems to have had much more impact, at least based on early signals and talk within the SEO industry.
While Google implements hundreds, if not thousands of small changes every year, the Core Updates are the ones that affect the organic rankings of many websites.
When explaining how core updates work, a good analogy to reference is this one from Google:
“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.”
As Google says: “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.”
With that in mind, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with pages that drop in rankings following a core update. They’re just being reassessed against content that has been published since the last update, or content that was previously overlooked.
Google has moved to reassure site owners that if their sites are facing decreases in rankings or traffic, that there might not be anything wrong with their site. But they do ask that you focus on only offering best content, which is what their Google search algorithms want to deliver to search engine end users.
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