The June 2019 Google Broad Core Algorithm Update impacted the rankings of websites in Google’s Search Engine Results Pages. Several aspects of the algorithm were changed which caused some sites to gain visibility and others to lose visibility.
Generally speaking, sites negatively impacted will see a drop in rankings for many or all of important keywords or key phrases which they used to rank well for. This is usually first noticed by a sudden dip in traffic. Sites positively impacted will see the opposite.
For example, here’s a traffic estimate for DrAxe.com, which was negatively impacted and is now experiencing an organic traffic loss:
While I do not have direct access to their actual data, it is safe to say they have had a significant loss in traffic. That’s because they’re no longer ranking highly on page 1 of Google for terms such as “Keto Diet”.
The June 2019 Google Broad Core Algorithm Update impacted sites across the web, however, I am personally seeing the most impact on News and Health sites.
What is a Core Update?
A “core update”, also called a “broad core update”, is when Google makes several changes to their main (core) algorithm. These updates include a variety of factors such as:
- Backlink quality and relevance
- Google’s algorithmic Trust in the domain
- User Experience
- Content quality
- Other “quality” factors
Broad core updates are different than the other tweaks Google makes to the search results hundreds of times each year since they are “broad” and encompass several ranking factors.
Quality metrics in these major updates throughout 2018 and 2019 have had a dramatic impact on websites which could impact someone’s health or financial well being. Some of the niches which have felt the most impact are:
June 2019 Core Algorithm Update – Live Timeline
This section will be updated as the algorithm rolls out.
- June 2, 2019: June 2019 Core Update Announcement.
On June 2, 2019, Google announced that a broad core algorithm update will be rolling out this week. Google’s said: “Tomorrow, we are releasing a broad core algorithm update, as we do several times per year. It is called the June 2019 Core Update.” This is a change as Google never announces core updates in advance. Each time an algorithm changes, there are newbies in SEO community who often have a hard time determining if there was an update or not and wonder why they lost traffic to their website. Google decided to announce the algorithm in advance to prevent confusion.
- Here’s what I am expecting:
The June 2019 Core Update arrives hot on the heels of release of the 2019 Quality Rater Guidelines, just like the major August 1, 2018 update (aka the “Medic” update), which was released a couple of weeks after the 2018 QRG release.
I strongly suspect the June 2019 Core Update will place a strong value on quality factors and trust factors. Trust factors being backlink quality, and quality factors including site quality, user experience factors, content quality and other E-A-T factors.
- June 3, 2019: June 2019 Core Update has begun rolling out. This was announced by Google at 10AM ET.
- June 4, 2019: The algorithm change is impacting a variety of websites now. Sites impacted may see an increase or a loss of traffic. While it is too early to tell this update very much looks like a Medic refresh (as mentioned above, we expected that many quality & trust factors will be in play). Healthline.com is one of the first sites I check after a major Medic-related algo refresh, and they were indeed impacted:
- June 5, 2019: The algorithm continues causing fluctuations in search results. RankRanger has announced that so far the niches impacted the most include gambling, health & finance:
- June 6, 2019: This algorithm is closely related to Medic, yet affecting more news websites. Here’s a site that has medical content on it that I have been watching drop update after update. I have spoken to them in the past and they have an SEO Agency working for them that just doesn’t get it. I told them this would happen…
(Update 6/8/2019: They have fired their SEO Agency!)
- June 7, 2019: As can be seen in the RankRanger screenshot below, the major days of impact were June 4, June 5 and June 6.
- June 8, 2019: I will now begin analyzing this update and will post details below in the coming days. However, there is honestly not a whole lot new that I am seeing. This was simply Google turning the dials on several quality and trust factors.
Learning from Winners & Losers.
I really dislike “winners & losers” sections of articles like this.
There is definitely information to glean from websites which have benefited from improvements made to their websites. Of course, that’s tough to gauge unless you’ve been tracking them. And, if you spot a bunch of sites which have lost traffic, you can analyze them for correlations as well.
That said, let’s start with the big winners and losers. Sistrix documented the largest visibility gains and losses. Here they are:
What can we learn from those? Let’s take a look at one of them, Mercola.
** 6/25/2019: Sorry for the lack of updates to this article – I am away but have much more to add. Below are some thoughts on Mercola as they recently mentioned this article. **
Mercola’s Traffic Loss
11/12/2019 Follow up: I respond to Mercola’s article about Google algorithms here.
A great Chrome Extension I use often called NewsGuard. NewsGuard offers “Nutrition Labels” for websites. NewsGuard gives Mercola a very bad report card. The NewsGuard website states that “This website severely violates basic standards of credibility and transparency”. The NewsGuard page goes on to state that the site acts as a health website but pushes false claims about things such as vaccinations. The page also states that Mercola has been criticized by physicians and scientists and sanctioned by regulatory agencies for promoting unsubstantiated theories in their articles.
When looking at Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines for E-A-T signals, it would be pretty easy to conclude that Mercola pages could be giving out misleading information. In fact, Google says the lowest ratings should go to a “YMYL page with inaccurate potentially dangerous medical advice”.
What’s YMYL? Google says “Some types of pages could potentially impact the future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety of users. We call such pages “Your Money or Your Life” pages, or YMYL.” … “We have very high Page Quality rating standards for YMYL pages because low quality YMYL pages could potentiallynegatively impact users’ happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.”
YMYL content includes medical content. According to Google: “Medical information pages: webpages that provide advice or information about health, drugs, specific diseases or conditions, mental health, nutrition, etc”
In Google’s guidelines, they actually use “Stomach Flu” as an example of medical content:
And what’s Mercla been discussing on their site? Stomach Flu (please note, I didn’t read this article in particular but it’s a relevant example).
Now to be fair, I haven’t ever been on Mercola’s site, and I have no clue what’s on it. But I am indeed seeing a high correlation of sites punished by Google’s algorithms for low E-A-T signals which have negative pages on Wikipedia. Here’s Mercola’s page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Mercola.
If that’s the case, Mercola has very small chances of recovery.
eCommerce site example:
I can’t mention it’s name, however, this site has a wide variety of content problems & technical problems. Additionally, they cover medical content and I’m not so sure the site has the “authority”. There are just a wide variety of issues here that correlate with a low quality site.
A legal site positively impacted:
This is actually a client of mine and they were positively impacted. I have not yet taken a close look at the traffic, but I suspect they are ranking better than they were for a handful of key phrases and possibly getting an extra featured snippet here and there. We’ve been doing almost everything right on this site, so I suspected it may remain untouched or see a small gain.
Just a couple of weeks ago I wrote about the 2019 Google Quality Rater Guidelines. Google has been releasing the QRG just before major algorithm updates.
There’s 200 pages of useful information in the QRG. If you weren’t aware, Google hires quality raters to evaluate websites found in search results. According to Google, the rater’s ratings do not directly impact search results, but correlations from their findings may be used to influence future algorithm updates.
The latest QRG focuses more on “page quality” and determining if a page fulfills the user’s search query.
I am seeing a variety of news websites which lost/gained traffic. While news websites are not my personal area of expertise, I think a few of the things that can harm news websites could include:
- Poor reputation. In the QRG, Google notes that raters should conduct “research on the reputation of the website or creator of the main content”. Later they say “…Wikipedia articles can help you learn about a company and may include information specific to reputation, such as awards and other forms of recognition, or also controversies and issues.” If a news style website has a poor reputation, factors on their site could correlate with what Google is trying to push down in search results.
- Poor user experience. It’s no secret that some news websites have a horrendous user experience full of pop-ups, push notification alerts and auto-play videos.
Were you affected by the Algorithm Update?
If you were impacted, please comment below.
- 3 Ways To Tell if Google has Indexed Your Content - November 1, 2020
- Google Slows New Content from Entering Search Results in October 2020 - October 19, 2020
- August 15 2020 Google Algorithm Update and Organic Traffic Fluctuations - August 16, 2020