Google Search Algorithm Updates for Q4 2023


The Gist

  • SEO disruption. Google’s October 2023 Core Update saw considerable volatility and stirred the SEO community.
  • Spam overhaul. Google’s spam update extends to multiple languages, targeting various deceptive techniques.
  • Quality focus. Emphasis on helpful content, with Google pushing against AI-generated and unhelpful content. 

Editor’s Note: This article was updated on October 31, 2023 to include new data and information. 

In a single month, Google rolled out significant changes that could spell volatility for countless websites. From a core update that echoed across the SEO community to a dedicated spam crackdown expanding its reach to new languages, the search giant continues its relentless pursuit for highly relevant search results. 

As website owners and digital marketers scramble to adapt, understanding these updates becomes crucial to maintaining visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). Dive in as we dissect the latest algorithmic shifts that might change the game for online content.

Google’s October 2023 Core Update

The October 2023 core update is the third core update of the year, with Google making broad changes to its search algorithms and systems. This update started rollout on October 5 and completed October 19. 

Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable commented on the significant volatility caused by this core update. “I cannot say enough how big of an impact this update had within the SEO community and probably wider,” he wrote

Core updates are broad changes to Google’s search algorithms and systems that can significantly impact how web pages rank, but there’s nothing within these updates that targets specific pages or sites. 

The overall goal of core updates, according to Google, is to ensure they’re delivering on their mission to present helpful and reliable results for searchers. They likened it to creating a list of the top 100 movies in 2021. A few years later, you refresh the list, and you might add movies that didn’t exist three years ago, or reassess some films and realize they deserve a different spot.  

Related Article: What’s New in Search? Top SEO Strategies 

Google’s October 2023 Spam Update

Overlapping with the October 2023 core update was Google’s new spam update, which began rollout on October 4 and ended October 20. Google’s tweet on the subject said the update to their spam detectors will “improve our coverage in many languages and spam types.”

Google Tweet about October 2023 Spam Update

This update applies globally and improves coverage in Turkish, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Hindi, Chinese and other languages. Common types of spam that Google targets include: 

  • Cloaking: Presenting different content to users vs. search engines, with the intent of manipulating SERPs and misleading users.
  • Doorways: Sites or pages created to rank for specific, similar search queries. They lead users to intermediate pages that aren’t as helpful as the final destination. 
  • Scraped content: Content taken from other, more reputable sites that doesn’t provide any additional value to users. 
  • Spammy auto-generated content: Content generated programmatically without adding anything original or offering sufficient value. 
  • Hidden text and links: Content placed on a page designed to manipulate search engines that’s not easily viewable by human users. 
  • Keyword stuffing: Filling a webpage with keywords in an attempt to manipulate the SERPs. 

Google said companies that noticed an impact from this update should review its spam policies to make sure they’re in compliance.        


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