Did the core algorithm update deal with freshness?

Author avatar

Stephen Kenwright

Google rolled out a huge algorithm update over the weekend but so far there has been no confirmation of what it actually did.

Publishing sites are regularly on Searchmetrics’ winners and losers lists because the keywords they rank for are so popular (celebrities’ names etc.) that any shift looks substantial. So it’s no surprise that the biggest losers on Searchmetrics’ list this week are all publishers.

Searchmetrics losers core algorithm update - The Atlantic

The Atlantic is the #1 loser this week on Searchmetrics.

Searchmetrics Vanity Fair core algorithm update

Search metrics losers core algorithm update - New Yorker

In fact most of the top 10 losers fall into this category.

Searchmetrics absolute losers core algorithm update

Looking through the keywords that have changed hands is interesting because most of the pages ranking for those keywords are at least 2 years old on most of the sites. Obviously older pages generally rank better for a number of reasons – primarily the links they have acquired – but you would be hard pressed to argue that gossip from 2013 would be the best result for anyone searching now.

Vanity Fair keyword losers

I won’t post screenshots from all of the losers’ lists but it’s worth a look on Searchmetrics.

It’s far from conclusive but the confusion around Panda – caused partially by misconstrued tweets from Gary Illyes and partially by some very obvious movements for sites affected by Panda at the same time as the update – corroborates with the idea that the core algorithm update has affected old content.

I can confirm that the movement we have seen – from Panda affected sites – has been heavily centered around websites where we’ve removed and/or updated a lot of content. As above I’m not suggesting that this was a definite Panda roll out (I’d put money on it being a test though) but we know from Google that more than one algorithm can affect a website and other algorithms and/or filters will be influenced the same factors.

Until Google gives us more information I’d suggest that if you lost keyword rankings over the weekend you should take a look through the relative age of the content and try to take a view on whether it’s really up to date enough for searchers in 2016.

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