The March 2019 Google Broad Core Algorithm Update

On March 12, 13, and 14, 2019, many webmasters began noticing a change to their rankings and traffic. That’s because Google rolled out an update to their algorithm. Google frequently rolls out updates, but this one was a significant “Broad Core algorithm update”.

Sure enough, clients I have been assisting with Authority, Trust and Quality issues after being negatively impacted by the 8/1/2018 algorithm or 9/27/2018 algorithm began to see traffic increases and the emails began coming in. Rankings and Featured Snippets returned to these websites. More on how I helped them recover their traffic below, along with what we do and don’t know.

The update began rolling out late on March 10 or early March 11 and as far as I know it was first spotted here in real time by “@tehseowner”. As with any Broad Core algorithm update, not all sites are impacted at the same time. On the 13th, Google announced the update was a “Broad Core” update.

NOTE: This page will be updated as more becomes known about this algorithm. I rarely publish anything on this blog without as many facts (or at least observations) as possible.

What is a Broad Core Algorithm Update?

A Broad Core update involves multiple changes to the algorithm and \the changes are bundled up into one major rollout.

This is much different than an algorithm update which isolates one specific factor such as page speed.

As with any Broad Core algorithm update, not all sites are impacted at the same time, and changes can occur at different times for different niches and different regions.

March 2019 Google Broad Core Algorithm FAQ

This article will be updated as I get more data. Below are updates as I have discovered them.

Was this update Medic related?
A few people have asked me if the update was related to the August 1, 2018 update (aka the Medic Update). My answer is yes (sort of). Nobody has any way of knowing which knobs the Google engineers twisted but I can say that on 8/1/18 sites across the board were impacted, and YMYL sites were hit the hardest, which includes medical / nutritional / wellness sites. And yes, on 3/12/19 some of those sites were impacted again. Most of the sites impacted a second time made a mild change (such as a partial recovery), and, most of the sites impacted have made changes after losing traffic. That’s why it is tough to tell what happened; were the changes effective or did Google twist some knobs to dial back Medic, or both? I’ll post examples below in the screenshots section.

Was this update backlink related?
Partially. Google is constantly evaluating the most important factor in SEO, and that’s backlinks. The type of link, where it came from, what it points to, the context the link was used in, the age of the link, etc – these are all things any search engine must constantly reevaluate in an effort to provide the best results possible to the end user.

I recently commented on an article about the impact YMYL content has on a site’s rankings and pointed out that after studying mental health sites which increased in rankings in a post 8/1/2018 world, the links you will need to succeed could include fda.gov, cdc.gov, nih.gov, nami.org, mayoclinic.org, webmd.com, adaa.org. This is a good thing, as (most) sites negatively impacted that I looked at were bad. Really bad. One even claimed “drinking green tea cures depression”. Of course, the next sentence read “click here to get the tea we recommend”. You don’t have to be a doctor to know that’s probably jst not true and that kind of advice could kill someone, which is why it’s called YMYL content (as it could impact Your Money or Your Life).

Did this update affect all niches?
Yes, this was by no means an update specifically geared towards medical websites.

Client Site Recoveries

I’m going to preface the examples below with this:

  1. There’s really nothing new that I am doing. Google simply wants to provide great results to people using their search engine. Great content with “great backlinks” will always win. Or at least, it will, assuming the search engines do their job. That said, most people need a lot of help when it comes to these areas.
  2. In the cases below, nobody can really be certain why the sites are performing better due to so many variables being in play. Google can definitely dial back aggressive algorithm changes. Did that occur? I’m not sure. Will I change my ways? Definitely not.
  3. The vast majority of my clients are law firms, SMBs or e-Commerce stores and most haven’t been noticeably impacted by any of the major updates in the last several years. So, my data is indeed limited and I make no claims of having all of the answers. However, I will share what I have from people I have taken on who were whacked by a previous algorithm change and have hired me specifically for the task of traffic and Featured Snippet recovery.

1. UK Lead Gen Site

This is kind of a random client for me but I enjoyed taking them on. Their technical SEO was spot on and their site did great on all “audits”. On September 27 they were hit and sank half way down on page 1. But the real traffic loss came from them losing Featured Snippets:

Action taken included:

  • expanding upon their most important pages to be more comprehensive and answer related questions people may be asking
  • helping them acquire a dozen high authority links. They had some great content and statistics on their site which were mentioned in the news as well.

Their rankings returned on March 12, 2019 along with their Featured Snippets and they’re actually at all new highs for traffic:

2. Herbal Supplement Site

This is another very random site that was whacked August 1, 2018. They scaled back on advertising, upgraded old content, noindexed thin content and content which received no traffic, obtained some fresh links and produced some new high quality content. They are still on the path to recovery and are headed in the right direction:

Medic Dialed Back – Recovery?

I am not working with this site but I hear from the owner from time to time. They have been focusing on E-A-T factors, adding author bios and updating content which was stale. One thing they did NOT fix was their ads. The have ads right in the main content at the top of an article and about 2 paragraphs in as well. I think it looks terrible, but what do I know… They haven’t “recovered” but they did see a little improvement. They used to get 5,000 hits/day:

Some high authority sites in the health niche lost traffic, such as webmd.com and healthline.com. Here’s healthline:

DrAxe.com and others like Wellness Mama gained traffic. I have no idea if these sites made any changes after the last big core algorithm update. Here’s WellnessMama:

I’ll mention that not all sites that were hit 8/1/18 made any recovery at all. This site, for example, was hit very hard on both 8/1/18 and 9/27/18. They were very unhappy and quit working on their website all together. The site lacks authority links for the type of content they cover. Additionally, the site is plastered with ads, and I mean plastered. With some work this could be a great site. In fact, I’d love to buy this site myself!

Were you impacted by the March 2019 Google Broad Core Algorithm Update?

If you lost traffic, gained traffic, or just saw no changes at all, please feel free to post your findings below.

Len

President at Telapost
I create content and do SEO for law firms, small businesses and companies worldwide. I have been generating traffic online since 1992. I have owned multiple successful companies. I'm an organic eater, nature lover and German Shepherd owner. Feel free to contact me here.
2 Comments
  1. Thanks, it seems that nobody has the answers just yet. I saw a partial reversal from September 27 from updating older content as well. I look forward to more updates.

    • Thanks, this page will be updated multiple times in the coming days as I receive more information and as the algorithm finishes rolling out.

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