December 1, 2021

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Google’s June 2021 Core Update: What we know and what it might tell about the future of core updates

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After a six-month wait, Google announced a new core update on June 2 and they called it … *drumroll* … the June 2021 Core Update.

For the first time in the history of core updates, it wasn’t rolled out at once but split into two parts, with the July 2021 Core Update following in a few weeks. And there are quite a few other things that make this core update rather unusual…

Keep reading to find out what Google’s June Update might tell about the future of core updates, and what you should do if you’ve been hit by this update!

Table of Content

Google Core Update Part 1: June 2021

As usual, Google announced the June 2021 Core Update via Twitter on June 2:

What’s rather unusual is that Google announced the next Core Update right away which is supposed to follow in July 2021. Google explained that some parts of the update were not ready to roll out yet, so they were moved to July. Google also pointed out that some of the effects of the June update may become reversed with the second part in July.

After the official announcement, it took several days until the SEO community noticed the first impact:

But compared to previous updates, the reactions were spread over a longer period of time and the discussions weren’t as intensive as before. This actually makes sense as many SEO data providers found that the June 2021 Core Update took longer to roll out than usual. In the past, the impact of a core update was mostly felt within a shorter time frame.

Which sites were hit by the June 2021 Core Update?

As with almost every past core update, it is very hard to tell how exactly Google’s algorithm was changed. As the name suggests, a core update includes changes to the broad core of Google’s search engine, instead of adding or adjusting individual ranking factors.

But it’s still possible to analyze the industries and types of websites that have been targeted most by a core update. So, let’s have a look at what is known about the June 2021 Update so far:

Searchmetrics found that many directories were among the losers of this update, as well as fake-airport sites that seemed to be high-quality sites but actually contained lots of spam. Websites with thin content were also among the losers.

Data by Semrush shows that the categories health, autos & vehicles, pets & animals, science, and travel were hit the hardest.

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This slightly contradicts another analysis by Sistrix which states that YMYL websites (“Your Money, Your Life”, e.g. health and finance topics) were affected below average. Instead, a lot of websites with a regional or local focus (e.g. business directories, city websites, etc.) were among the biggest winners and losers according to their data.

The overall effects on rankings were smaller than with previous updates. Sistrix’s Johannes Beus assumes that Google used new mechanisms for this update, due to the different types of websites that were affected as well as the unusual rollout.

For comparison, here’s a quick summary of Google’s previous core updates:

  • December 2020 Core Update: This last core update was a particularly large update that had a big impact on search results across all industries. YMYL websites, dictionaries and encyclopedias, as well as news publishers were particularly affected.
  • May 2020 Core Update: This was also a very big update which hit the categories of travel, real estate, and health.
  • January 2020 Core Update: Multiple analyses showed that this update also had a big impact on YMYL sites.

As you can see, Google’s previous core updates were quite similar in terms of the industries and types of websites that felt the biggest impact. But with the June 2021 Core Update, these patterns aren’t as clearly visible anymore.

How to interpret the findings

Note: The findings we summarized above are often based on individual observations and can differ significantly depending on the data they are based on.

Also, there aren’t many analyses of the June update so far, so we are not able to make any definite conclusions at this moment. But we can still see some interesting patterns…

Google may have changed the way how core updates are rolled out

Almost all data providers agree on the point that the June Core Update took longer to roll out than previous updates. In addition, the overall impact on rankings was smaller than in the past.

These two factors could result in core updates being more difficult to identify in the future, i.e. it may become harder to assess if you’ve been hit by a core update or not.

Interestingly, over the course of the last months, we also regularly heard rumors that Google silently updated its core algorithm. This might become more frequent – a silent, ongoing process instead of a publicly announced event.

Google is becoming better at identifying low-quality sites and removing them from search results

Although Google’s algorithm still has some blind spots (as we’ve shown in our analysis of the December 2020 Core Update), it’s still another step in the right direction that many spam websites and thin content pages were among the losers of this update.

It may become harder to determine the focus of Google’s core updates

As we’ve shown above, past core updates almost always affected sites about YMYL topics. Data about the June update partially contradict this pattern.

We are curious to see if Google will follow these trends in the future and if the rollout of Core Updates has changed fundamentally, or if this is just an outlier in the history of Core Updates…

In any case, we’d recommend you to keep an eye on this development – of course, we’ll keep you posted here on our blog. And remember that part 2 of the update will follow in July, so you should definitely monitor your rankings.

What you should do if you were hit

Have you noticed an unusual fluctuation in your rankings since May 5/6? It’s very likely that this is connected to the June update.

If your rankings improved significantly, that’s great news! Google’s main goal with the core updates is to improve the overall quality of search results, so if you’ve profited from this update, Google apparently considers your site to offer high-quality content.

But you should still keep an eye on your rankings – as Google announced, the second part of this update may reverse some of the effects we’re seeing now.

So if your rankings dropped due to the update, there’s still a chance that this might change soon. But basically, you should follow Google’s general recommendation and ask yourself how you can improve the overall quality of your website.

Google shares some tips on that in this blog post. Most of these tips are related to E-A-T (Expertise, Authority and Trust). You can find our own guide on E-A-T here.

It can also be helpful to take a step back and ask yourself what kind of content you have to create in order to provide real value to your visitors and how to present this content with the best possible user experience in mind. With core web vitals becoming part of Google’s algorithm soon, it will get even more important to optimize the user experience on your site.

Following these tips always makes sense, regardless of whether you’re faced with a ranking drop right now or want to prepare yourself for future core updates.

We are always here to help you optimize your website: with Seobility you can find technical errors and on-page SEO issues. And on our blog and wiki, we regularly provide you with tips and guides for optimizing your website.

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