June 2019 Core Update: Content is King

What’s It For

Just Your Regular Core Update?

Amidst the uproar from the web community that the update must be something ‘big’, given Google’s unusual pre-announcement of the update, the search engine’s public search liaison regarded it as the usual type of core update that they regularly do. He further explained in a tweet that they simply wanted to be proactive about this kind of information. Similar to the March 2019 Core Update, Google underscored that this Core Algorithm Update didn’t target any particular website categories. Given its ‘broad’ nature, Google’s Danny Sullivan pointed out that this update did not aim to ‘fix’ anything in specific. Although they’ve confirmed that the changes brought about by the update were ‘noticeable’, Google insisted that it didn’t aim to mandate website owners to mistakenly try to alter things and tag any changes as ‘quality issues.’

An Update Within an Update

Overlapping the June Algo Core Update was the Diversity Change Update which rolled out on June 6. It was designed to ensure that no more than two listings from the same site would come up in the search top results. Google pointed out that the release of the Diversity Change Update is separate and unconnected from the June 2019 Core Update. Furthermore, webmasters believed that sites who experienced a drop in traffic are more likely due to the core update rather than the diversity update.

June 2019 Core Update is Not Google Panda

In Feb 2011, Google launched the Panda algorithm update to reward high-quality websites and drop those low-quality ones in the SERPs. Initially, it was rolled out separately from the core algorithm but was then eventually integrated into it in March 2012. Contrary to initial contentions that the June Core Update was somehow linked to this Google Panda Algorithm, Google’s Danny Sullivan highlighted that it’s certainly not. Rather, the update was generally designed and improved to better reward good content.

What Were Its Effects

Contrary to Danny Sullivan’s claim that the update is just a regular core update, Google penalty expert and algorithm analyst, Marie Haynes tagged the June 2019 Core Update as a big one. In her analysis, Haynes identified the following types of sites as most affected by the Core Update, some showed signs of massive recoveries while others are being hit again.

  • Health Sites – a good number of health sites experienced significant changes after the update was rolled out. Several alternative medicines sites which are examples of High E-A-T websites saw a drop in traffic. It can be inferred that these sites cover scientific topics that don’t represent established scientific consensus where such consensus exists. Such criteria are one of the factors to consider when selecting an overall Page Quality rating through the Quality Raters Guidelines (QRG). On the other hand, Dr. Pete Meyers of Moz initial data showed that few health sites including Healthline and Very well Health saw big gains.
  • E-Commerce Sites – Meanwhile, e-commerce sites of business that had good brand recognition generally showed improvements in rankings. Analysts infer that in this update, Google made brand authority a larger ranking signal.
    Unfortunately, the two site categories below felt big drops due to the June 2019 Core Update:
  • Cryptocurrency Sites – Major cryptocurrency site, CCN shut down last June 10 due to a massive impact in traffic following Google’s June 2019 Core Update. In an editorial reported on their website, founder of CCN Markets, Jonas Borchgrevink confirmed that their search traffic fell more than 71% on mobile overnight. Similarly, Borchgrevink cited the immense drop experienced by other crypto publication sites namely, CoinDesk and Coin Telegraph, garnering 34.6% and 21.1% drop on mobile, respectively.
  • News Sites – a major tumult stirred the webmaster community when well-known British daily newspaper, The Daily Mail admitted a 50% loss in search traffic after the June 2019 Core Update rolled out. MailOnline’s SEO Director Jesus Mendez expressed publicly on Google’s Help Forum that the drop occurred over a course of 24 hours. Mendez pointed out that they’ve experienced a more pronounced decline in their home region vs the US where drops have been historically been more prominent.

Webmasters argued that the news site’s major downfall can be attributed to their undeniably “Low Main Content”, which means that the page has an unsatisfying amount of main content that matches the purpose of the page. This is made apparent with the excessive amount of cheap and inappropriate adult photos on the site’s main content pages. In her analysis, algorithm analyst, Marie Haynes further pointed out that the news site is known to be producing content that is both sensational and untrustworthy. On top of this, ads and even auto-playing videos obstruct a page’s actual content.

What It Means for You

While Panda targets spam sites and Penguin deals with bad linking and keyword stuffing, Google Core Algorithm Updates tend to impact websites in a wide range of areas. In the context of the June 2019 Core Update, it’s quite apparent that Google suggests site owners to focus on ensuring the delivery of better content to reap rewards. Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller emphasized that the factors impacting website rankings are external in nature. He advised that Google remains steadfast in responding to the evolving needs of users by ensuring the accessibility of quality content. Thus, to help produce great content, Google suggests the use of the Search Quality Rater’s Guidelines, as an excellent starting point in ensuring that your website is relevant, useful and trustworthy to users. To understand how raters learn to assess good content, here are key points that you should consider:

  • Purpose of the Page – It’s crucial for website owners to understand the true purpose of their page and ensure that their site delivers quality content to its users. It’s important to note that the Page Quality or PQ rating is calculated how a page achieves its purpose using a set of criteria from the Quality Rater’s Guidelines (QRG). Pages with no attempt to help user queries and potentially spread hate or deception receives the lowest rating.
  • High Level of E-A-T or Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness – Websites that were greatly affected by the June 2019 Core Update essentially fell under the category of E-A-T. These are pages that should exude a beneficial purpose, expertise, authority, and trust.

For example, if you run a medical website, content should be produced by people or organization with appropriate medical expertise or accreditation. It should also be regularly updated, reviewed and edited in a professional style.
For journalistic sites, content should be factual, backed up with accurate data and ultimately, published in a manner that will aid a user’s better and holistic understanding of current events.

  • Main Content Quality and Amount – Another characteristic of a high-quality page is a satisfying amount of Main Content (MC), including a descriptive or helpful title. Generally, in creating Main Content which is high quality it should be created with one of the following: expertise, effort, talent and skills, for it to achieve its main purpose.
  • Clean and Satisfying Website Information – High-quality pages should also clearly articulate who is responsible for it. As observed in the websites affected by the June 2019 Core Update, failing to establish a high degree of trust to users have negatively affected their search traffic.
  • Website Reputation – a positive reputation based on prestigious awards or expert recommendations are used as a benchmark in establishing a good website reputation. Informational sources such as Wikipedia can be a good start off point too. Google’s QRG tells us that less formal expertise on a topic is acceptable. In such cases, user engagement, reviews, and popularity for a content type can be considered as evidence for reputation.