It is nothing new that Google is continuously adding new features and making changes to their algorithm in order to keep up with the ever-evolving digital landscape and changing consumer behavior.
As we come to the end of 2022, this year has seen some significant changes to Google’s algorithm and has introduced some interesting features. This article looks at the key updates released so far in 2022, from the most recent to earliest one, and what impact they are having on SEO and search rankings.
Google algorithm updates in 2022
Google’s October 2022 Spam Update was released with the aim of improving the accuracy and speed of search results. This update impacted how Google searches for related phrases and phrases that contain multiple words. It also made changes to how Google evaluates relevance in order to better match user queries with appropriate content. This update is in effect globally across all languages and the roll out was completed as of October 21, 2022.
Google clearly defines what it considers to be spam. Spam is generally considered to be any content that does not provide value to the user. This update is intended to help weed out websites with low-quality and irrelevant content from appearing in the search results, thus improving overall search rankings.
While some consider thin content to be spam, Google does not. Thin content is generally defined as webpages with too little information; however, Google still allows such pages to be indexed if they are relevant.
Hackers sometimes create malicious content to try and manipulate search results. This type of activity, known as cloaking, is against Google’s guidelines and can result in penalties for websites found engaging in it. Some websites don’t even know that they have been compromised and have been hit with a spam update, in which case, they might have seen a decrease in organic search rankings.
September saw 2 updates. Though both were completed by the 26th October, they are two updates that address entirely different fields.
This was the third product review update of the year and the fifth in a series of updates focusing on review sites. This update targets the timeliness and accuracy of product reviews on websites. Websites that fail to update their reviews when new versions are released, or that contain inaccurate information will be adversely impacted.
This was the second core update of the year after the May 2022 update and was launched three days after the helpful content update finished rolling out. This update, which is expected to take 2 weeks to begin to show results is expected to show massive ranking fluctuations by shaking up the SERP rankings. The core principle is that Google finds that content that offers better value to the search intent of it’s users should be ranked higher.
Additionally, this update ensures that rank drops are caused by a lack of quality content or other technical issues, rather than simply because of algorithm changes. This means that websites previously underperforming despite highly engaging content have a chance now to go up in the rankings, leading to a drop in rankings of others.
Here are some questions to check content quality if you have been adversely hit by this update:
- Do real people write your content and is it intended for real people?
- Is the content original and does it contain valuable information for its intended audience?
- Have you spend time adding unique information regularly?
- Does your content provide more depth than other websites?
- Have you over optimized the meta titles and tags to appeal to bots and not people
- Are there any spelling, grammar or format errors in your content?
- Are you linking to other web sources for more information or relevance?
- Is your content easily navigable and understandable?
- Are there any broken links on the website? Is your content well formatted with proper headings, paragraphs and relevant images?
- Do you regularly monitor user comments and feedback?
- Do you focus on a particular niche or you write about just anything?
- Will people suffer loss of life or money by trying to recommend your content?
- How good is the mobile experience?
Google released its helpful content update on 25th August, and the roll out for this update was completed by 9th September, 2022. The update was introduced as and set to be a new site-wide signal that intended to classify websites on the basis of the content they publish.
This update especially followed through on Google’s warning target toward auto-generated AI content. This type of content was warned to be penalized for not providing useful and engaging content.
Under this new update, websites were required to provide quality web content that was unique, well-written and relevant to the readers. If websites lacked any of these qualities, they would be penalized in their search rankings and visibility.
The update also put an emphasis on user experience when visiting websites. Site speed, user friendliness and navigability all became important elements in a website’s ranking.
This update also made it more difficult for sites to use outdated SEO techniques such as keyword stuffing, link buying and excessive backlinking if they wanted to remain relevant in Google search results. It was now crucial that content be created with a focus on providing valuable information to the reader.
Although this update was set to bring in massive shifts in ranking, the overall intention was to create a more positive experience for users when they visited websites. Sites that provided high-quality, informative content were seen as the most beneficial and authoritative in Google’s eyes, with the potential to rank higher than competitors. However, the actual impact was not as straightforward as initially thought.
This update was released on 27th July, and completed by 2nd August, 2022. This was the second product review of the year and targeted toward English-language product reviews. It included algorithm changes to measure the quality of product reviews and ensure that only reliable, accurate information is presented to readers. It also included measures to tackle manipulative tactics surrounding products, such as fake rating systems or incentivized reviews.
Overall, this update was aimed at ensuring review-based content is more helpful for users. This move was well received by the community, with many stating that it has improved trust in the search engine and provided more reliable information.
As part of this update, Google also introduced two new features to further improve its product review capabilities: Product Star Ratings and Store Reviews. The stars are displayed alongside each product on a scale from one to five as an easy way for customers to quickly assess the general satisfaction with a product. Meanwhile, Store Reviews provide customers with an overall score for each store, based on their experiences with customer service and delivery.
Google also plans to use machine learning algorithms and other tools to detect potential problems in the review system, such as duplicate or incentivized reviews.
This update was released on 25th May and rolled out completely by 9th June, 2022. The first core update of the year focused on improving the accuracy and reliability of ratings and store reviews. The main features included:
• Improved algorithms for detecting duplicate or incentivized reviews
• Smarter filtering to surface more relevant and helpful reviews
• New tools to help customers quickly find the most useful information from store reviews
• Enhanced star rating system, allowing customers to better assess store ratings at a glance
• Improved moderation processes to ensure reviews comply with store policies.
This update brought about major upheavals in rankings, causing massive fluctuations and changes in rankings.
This product review update was released on March 23, 2022 and brought about several changes to how reviews were handled.
• Improved review curation and moderation capabilities, giving store owners more control over the content on their store pages
• Introduction of verified reviews, indicating that a purchase was made before leaving the review
• Ability to add video or audio testimonials to reviews section
This update intended to reward websites that publish in-depth reviews based on first hand experience.
This update outlined a few criteria for articles to be considered authentic reviews
- Depicting the pros and cons of the product and how its is different from previous versions.
- Including a disclaimer that the reviewer had received the product for free or at a discounted rate when applicable.
- Finally, it urged reviewers to promote their unique perspective rather than just what the manufacturer promotes through visuals
- Providing first-hand information from people that have physically or digitally used the product.
- Suggesting a list of similar products.
The page experience update for desktop was released on 22nd February and rolled out by 3rd March, 2022. This update focused on the visual appeal of webpages and how they are viewed by users. Google pushed for websites to focus on page experience signals like Core Web Vitals, mobile-friendliness, HTTPS security, safe browsing etc. In addition, webmasters were asked to improve their visuals by:
The Google algorithm updates of 2021 and 2022 have greatly improved the experience of browsing websites and engaging with them in various ways. From page experience to E-A-T signals, Google has pushed website owners to provide better content and visuals.
If you need any help keeping up-to-date with the Google algorithms, an SEO agency in Kolkata can help you.
Khurshid Alam is the founder and director of Pixel Street. A top SEO company in Kolkata. He has over 8 years of experience in the industry and has worked with some of the world’s leading brands including ITC, The Hindu Group, Glocal Healthcare, etc.