The Gist

  • The release. Google has released its first broad core update of the year.
  • The rollout. The rollout could take up to two weeks. 
  • The Impact. The full impact on marketers is not yet known, but practitioners should monitor metrics, assess and ensure quality content, and optimize technical SEO.

On March 15, Google Search released its first core update of the year, the March 2023 broad core update. The rollout could take up to two weeks to complete, according to Google. 

Google tweet announcing March 2023 core update.

Google's March 2023 Broad Core Update 

The March 2023 core update will target all content types within all regions and languages to promote or reward high-quality or high-value web pages. According to Google, nothing within this (or any) core update targets specific pages or sites. 

“Instead,” wrote the tech giant, “the changes are about improving how our systems assess content overall. These changes may cause some pages that were previously under-rewarded to do better in search results.”

Some experts speculate that this update will cause the most considerable upset for the black-hat SEO community, those that use tactics against Google’s guidelines to rank higher in search results.

Google’s Latest Core Update Impacts Marketers 

Not much information is available on this core update. It can take weeks for the full effects to become noticeable, as Google’s crawlers need to index and reassess webpages. 

Once implementation is complete (approximately the end of March), Google will update its ranking updates history page with more information. 

Some SEO practitioners online have reported concerning changes due to the update, such as declining traffic and drop-offs in keyword positioning. Others have reported an increase in traffic, while still more say it is too soon to tell.

Related Article: State of Search: Top SEO Strategies for 2023 

SEO Practitioners: What to Do Now

Some changes due to this core update may be temporary, rolling back once the update is fully implemented. However, pages experiencing permanent change may require action. 

While it’s still too soon to determine the lasting impact of this update, marketers can carefully watch their pages and follow this four-step action plan. 

1. Closely Monitor Your Site’s Metrics

Keep an eye on performance. Are you seeing changes in page visitors, sessions, time on page, keyword positioning, etc.? 

You’ll want to monitor these numbers closely — especially around the end of March, once the update is complete.

2. Perform a Website or Content Audit

If you see any drops, consider performing a content audit. Look at the pages most impacted and for what types of searches. 

Assess against competitor content. For instance, content that ranks higher than yours for the exact search might offer firsthand knowledge on a topic (as opposed to secondhand). 

3. Focus on Quality, Valuable Content

It's no secret that Google places a lot of weight on quality content. E-A-T (expertise, authority and trustworthiness) has played a significant role in how content ranks on Google’s search engine results pages for years.

Learning Opportunities

With this latest core update, Google said pages that see a change have nothing “wrong” to fix. But if there is one place to focus efforts, it's on “ensuring you’re offering the best content you can.” 

Google offers resources for creating people-first content, including a list of self-assessment questions like: 

  • Does the content provide original information, reporting, research or analysis?
  • Does the content provide a substantial, complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does the content title avoid exaggerating or being shocking in nature?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark or share with a friend?
  • Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?

4. Optimize Technical SEO

Google also looks at the technical aspects of your site when ranking, such as site structure, load speed and mobile optimization. 

Now is an ideal time to look at these areas and address where you can prioritize the user experience. Your technical SEO checklist might include to:

  • Check your website’s loading speed
  • Identify and fix broken links
  • Find and fix crawl errors
  • Ensure your website is mobile-friendly
  • Find and fix orphaned pages
  • Add structured data

Related Article: New Search Frontier: How Marketers Must Adapt to Stay Ahead of the Game

Previous Google Search Ranking Updates

While this March news was the year's first core update, Google has made one other change in 2023.

On Feb. 21, Google released its product reviews update to better reward high-quality product reviews, content that provides insightful analysis or original research written by experts or enthusiasts who know the topic well.

This update targeted product reviews in 11 languages, including English, Spanish, German and French. It also included information on how structured data can help the search engine better identify if content is a product review.

Stay Tuned for More SEO News

It’s too early to assess how the March 2023 core update will impact marketers long term. But it is safe to say that Google plans to continue its drive toward highly relevant, valuable and user-centric content.

Marketers, content creators and SEO enthusiasts who want to stay at the top of Google’s search results must stay informed on the latest updates, carefully monitor their websites and adapt their strategies.

Stay tuned on CMSWire for the latest on Google algorithm updates, rollouts and SEO news. You can also read our State of Search to discover what’s new in search engine optimization.