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2022 Google algorithm updates

When it comes to search engines, Google is the biggest one out there. Why? According to popular opinion, Google search algorithms are what give you the best results when you perform a search. Whether you’re looking for an HVAC company, surfing tutorials and resources for a computer problem, or exploring pet toys online, Google provides relevant and local results with the most trusted options at the top of the page (SERP). Google is also the most widely used search engine, with over 80% ownership of all desktop online searches. To retain that large of a user base while providing credible results across millions of websites, algorithm updates are necessary to manage results and provide the best answers to your query.

Google updates the algorithm periodically and categorizes the changes through core algorithm updates and routine search algorithm updates. Google’s core algorithm updates are usually major events. Google will announce the upcoming changes within their blogs and social channels and name them (e.g., Google Panda update in 2011) for easy categorization.

As you can imagine, these changes can affect SEO ranking factors, site traffic, and results on SERP (search engine results page). A routine algorithm update, on the other hand, is typically minor and doesn’t have a noticeable impact.

How to recover from the updates

If you see some fluctuation in your search engine rank or in your clients’, that’s normal. However, if you see a 10%+ traffic loss overnight, immediately advise your client to revisit their SEO strategy and/or strategize with your team internally.

If you or your clients have been affected by an algorithm update, the best thing to do is backtrack, follow white hat SEO tactics, and STOP any shady marketing practices. We’ve published detailed information on white hat and black hat techniques to help you. It’s important to note that using black hat techniques will hurt your SEO, while white hat SEO improves your rank by implementing trusted, ethical methods to help your site’s indexability. These white hat strategies include focusing on E-A-T principles, implementing good UX design, using correct schema markup, and providing high-quality content written by experts.

Contact Data Driven Marketers for a deep dive into how the algorithm has affected your clients and what to do next to regain traffic and brand equity.

What are unconfirmed Google algorithm updates?

An “unconfirmed” update refers to an update that can be observed through volatility in the SERP, but without any release from Google confirming that an update has taken place. These updates are difficult to figure out, and the SEO community can often disagree about whether an update actually took place.

January 10, 2022: Unconfirmed search ranking update

According to the SEO community, several tracking tools showed SERP volatility, and many digital marketers saw drops in site traffic around this unconfirmed Google algorithm update. Although Google didn’t confirm any major changes to the algorithm, the dips in traffic could indicate that a minor update was made. For this update, there was an increase in the number of “People Also Asked” boxes appearing in search results along with a decrease in snippets.

Source: Google Search Ranking Update On January 11th (Unconfirmed)

February 5, 2022: Unconfirmed update

Similar to the unconfirmed January 10th update, February 2022 saw some volatility in the SERP, but there was very little information, and most SEO professionals are unsure if an update occurred.

Source: Some google algorithm tracking tools are reporting an update but results are mixed

February 22, 2022: Desktop page experience update

Google launched a new algorithm update that uses “page experience” as a new factor when ranking web pages. The following search ranking factors from the page experience update are being used to evaluate rankings on desktop:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This measures how long it takes to load your webpage. Google recommends that your website should load in 2.5 seconds or less.
  • First Input Delay (FID): This measures how responsive your webpage is to user input once the page has loaded. Google recommends keeping this under 100 milliseconds.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This measures the stability of your layout and looks for things such as text moving or resources loading in asynchronously. Google recommends your site’s CLS score should be .1 or under.
  • HTTPS: This evaluates a site’s security by checking to see if your page is served over HTTPS. Google considers this especially important because HTTPS adds extra security and helps protect customers’ data.
    • Back in 2018, Google released an official update on Chrome labeling any site not served over HTTPS as “Not secure”. For more information and how to serve your site over HTTPS click here.
  • Intrusive interstitials: This refers to the content being accessible to the user.
    • This also enforces a previous update. This update from 2017 saw Google penalizing sites had popups blocking the main content. Please see this article for more information and examples that websites want to avoid.

To evaluate your current standing for some of these metrics, you can use the Core Web Vitals report in Google Search Console.

Overall, the desktop page experience update was a minor algorithm update that did not have a large impact on most websites. The page experience is just one of many factors that Google uses to determine rank.

March 18, 2022: Unconfirmed update

Much like the other two unconfirmed updates in 2022, this update was observed through some volatility in rankings. However, the volatility lasted only about three days before returning to normal. The consensus seems to be that this wasn’t an algorithm update.

March 23, 2022: Product reviews update

This update’s primary focus was to better identify high-quality product reviews and get them in front of the user. Here are some of the metrics Google is using to determine the pages they want users to see:

  • Include helpful in-depth details, like the benefits or drawbacks of a certain item, specifics on how a product performs, or how the product differs from previous versions.
  • Use product reviews from people who have actually used the products, and show what the product physically looks like or how it’s used.
  • Include unique information beyond what the manufacturer provides—like visuals, audio, or links to other content detailing the reviewer’s experience.
  • Discuss comparable products or explain what sets the product apart from its competitors.

For more guidelines about writing product reviews, read Google’s full list. This March 2022 product review update only affected product review sites, so e-commerce sites and companies were more likely to see some SERP volatility and rank fluctuations.

May 25, 2022: Broad core algorithm update

A few times every year, Google releases large core algorithm updates. These updates tend to have a large impact on the SERP, but they don’t have any specified area of focus. Whenever a new core algorithm update rolls out, Google refers people to the advice they gave in 2019. Despite not having any official areas of focus, the SEO community likes to evaluate any patterns they can see when analyzing search rankings. For this update, here were some of the patterns:

  1. FAQ Snippets appeared in 23% more Google Search results.
  2. Featured Snippets saw a lot of volatility, with some companies seeing them surge, while others saw a significant drop.
  3. Sites that produce video content (e.g., Youtube, Disney+) saw a 25% increase in their online visibility.

What should you do if you were negatively impacted by this update?
Google recommends that when you’re negatively impacted by an algorithm update, you self-assess your site and look for improvements in the following areas:

  1. Provide original content that is trustworthy and insightful.
  2. Ensure your content shows an expertise in your industry and make sure all claims are easily verifiable.
  3. Ensure your page has a good presentation. (See the Feb. 22nd Page Experience Update for more detailed information).
  4. Build your webpage with the user experience in mind as opposed to one that is built to rank higher.

August 25, 2022: Helpful content update

Google’s helpful content algorithm update was built to improve the rankings of sites that provide quality long-form content created by humans. The helpful content algorithm update deprioritizes websites with content generated by artificial intelligence software and content that was built for the sole purpose of ranking higher. This update began with a two-week rollout starting on the 25th of August, so we should be able to start assessing its impact around the 10th of September.

How Data Driven Marketers can help

Data Driven Marketers specializes in providing white hat marketing services that are designed to not only boost your rank, but give your customers a better experience. By utilizing data management tools such as Google Analytics, Tag Manager, Search Console, Data Studio, and SEMrush, we’re able to assess and analyze your website and provide the solutions needed to increase your rank. Our team of specialized content writers craft informative and human-centered content. We show potential customers and Google that you are not only providing a quality product / service, but are an expert in your field. Our approach effectively drives organic traffic to your site, improving your total impressions and visitors.

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