The Google July 2021 Core Algorithm Update – How is Your Business Impacted?

Looking to conquer the search engine results page (SERP)? Even if you’re on top now, you won’t stay there if you’re not evolving. 

It’s a constant arms race between search engines and businesses. Each time updates are rolled out to Google’s algorithm, your business has to adapt its SEO strategy to keep up-to-date.

However, not all updates are made equal. The most recent changes to the Google core algorithm were some of the most important we’ve seen. Rolled out over June and July 2021, they brought far-reaching consequences for page rankings.

If you want to keep traffic coming to your website, keep reading about the latest Google Core Algorithm Update.

Editorial credit: WDnet Creation / Shutterstock.com

Winners and Losers of the July Update

The July 2021 Core Algorithm Update was like no other we’ve seen before.

The last core update had been in December 2020, leading to a rather lengthy six-month wait. Anticipation was building about how the next significant update would impact the business world.

When it did arrive, the core update was split over two months for the very first time, as Google experienced some technical difficulties on their end. 

The rollout was officially completed on July 13. Leading SEO experts then had a chance to assess the changes. 

Every Google algorithm update creates winners and losers across the spectrum. We’ll dive into the facts and figures of this change to give your organisation some critical insight.

Have you lost ground on the SERP since July? Understanding the update is essential to refreshing your SEO approach and recovering your rankings.

Ongoing Improvements to Search Results

Google is constantly updating its search algorithm to improve page results, for a variety of reasons.

They might make a change to enhance accuracy for different types of user queries, or punish types of content that rely on underhanded optimisation methods to cheat the system. 

Google’s ongoing improvements keep its search algorithm the go-to for people around the world.

Ongoing Improvements to Search Results

What Is a Core Update?

Core updates are significant events in the search engine marketing space. They alter how Google’s main algorithm indexes and ranks pages.

This contrasts against the less comprehensive ‘page experience updates’. These only adjust elements, so Google users can find relevant information quickly and effectively.

The Secretive Nature of Updates

Google is always tight-lipped about when and how the algorithm has changed. After all, it doesn’t want to give an unfair advantage to websites that rely on blackhat SEO techniques. 

It takes a savvy digital marketer, on the cutting edge of the industry, to know the signs to look out for when a core update happens.

The July 2021 Core Update

The latest Google algorithm update is a response to the uptick in spam reaching the top of the SERP.

Google discusses this issue in their own blog posts. They acknowledge that “​​hacked spam was still rampant in 2020 as the number of vulnerable websites remained quite large”.

Yet with the development of forward-thinking AI technology, Google says it has improved its detection capabilities by over 50%.

The July 2021 Core Update
Image source: google.com

Understanding the Flurry of Recent Google Updates

When Google announces they are about to roll out yet another change, it can be a daunting prospect for business-owners. How will it affect your business?

The last couple of years have been an especially tumultuous time. We’ve seen several large-scale core algorithm updates, leading to inconsistent traffic for any SEO strategy that doesn’t adapt in response.

If your business relies on Google to reach customers, it’s been a roller coaster ride with the core updates, and possibly sleepless nights.

May 2020 Core Update

Let’s cast our brains back to the May 2020 core update. It already feels like a lifetime ago!

Many industries were hard-hit by the changes to the algorithm then. These ranged across travel, finance and retail. 

An in-depth analysis theorised that rankings were affected by how a website showed COVID-19 sensitivity. Some websites may have maintained or improved their rankings by offering “access [to] helpful and informative content right away.”

This approach isn’t anything new. It revolves around Google’s fine-tuning of the match between user intent and search results.

Image source: Rank Ranger

December 2020 Core Update

The next core update, in December 2020, was considered to be even larger than May’s algorithm change. 

As always, there were numerous winners and losers – just in time for the holiday season. Around 1-in-3 websites with over 10 million visitors per month experienced visible drops in their traffic.

A study found that those most impacted in the desktop search space were industries such as health, travel and real estate.

Meanwhile, the mobile search market saw government, law, education and animal websites hit hardest by the update.

Image source: Semrush

June 2021 Core Update

Next, search marketers and business owners had to brace themselves for the June 2021 core update. 

With the unusual lead-up seeing the update split into two parts, SEMRush reported that the mobile SERP was impacted a fraction more than desktop rankings. 

However, in contrast to the December 2020 update, more than 50% of affected websites were those with 500k monthly visits or fewer.

Reflecting the re-opening of the US economy, websites focused on the Food & Drink category were the biggest winners overall.

Image source: Semrush

What Has the July 2021 Core Update Changed?

The effects of the update were felt immediately, once Google began the rollout process. 

Some website owners saw gains in traffic starting from June. If this was you, your SEO consultant may have warned you not to take it for granted… And indeed, many of these gains were reversed with the ongoing rollout in July.

Likewise, many who dropped off in June were happy to see their positions recover. 

How will the long-term rankings of your website be affected? As with virtually all changes to Google’s algorithm, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to determining this.

However, there are some reasonable conclusions we can draw from the aftermath of the July 2021 core update. An SEO expert can read the signals of what a website has to do to maintain its rankings and stay in Google’s good books.

Industry Winners and Losers

For instance, Steve Paine from Sistrix told Search Engine Land that “many list and reference sites have been hit”. This includes a plethora of industries, but many in the travel sector reported their traffic taking a nosedive.

Meanwhile, SEMRush’s research led them to conclude that real estate, shopping, science and beauty websites experienced the most amount of rank volatility throughout this update. 

Country Code Top-Level Domains

Another finding that stood out? The effect on websites with multiple country code top-level domains (ccTLDs).

This technical element shows the user where the website is registered – such as .au for Australia or .uk for the United Kingdom. ccTLDs are used by websites that tailor content to various global regions. 

The international versions of massive websites like Pinterest and Amazon were struck by the update. They dropped several ranks, opening up lucrative top SERP positions to other businesses.

Recover Your Rankings from the Latest Core Update

It doesn’t matter whether your website’s SERP rankings have dropped like a stone or only been marginally impacted by the most recent Google algorithm update. 

There are numerous ways to regain your rankings and show Google that you deserve to appear in the top positions. There is also space to gain and improve your business visibility.

However, high-quality SEO is a long and complex process that requires a considered approach if you’re going to achieve your business objectives.

Core Update Recovery

Make Broad SEO Improvements

Have you noticed a consistent drop-off in rankings, or are you struggling to make much headway at all? 

There’s no hard and fast rule to climbing the SERP. However, many SEO experts believe that Google’s algorithms want to see long-term and steady improvements across the board, rather than simply hitting the mark on a few key metrics. 

This means businesses should take a comprehensive approach to their SEO strategies. For example, consider how you might enhance content quality, address technical concerns, improve user experience and remove intrusive or deceptive advertisements.

Emphasise User Experience

If you want to summit the SERP, the user experience of your website traffic needs to be a top priority. 

This can be approached from countless directions, but you’re definitely going to want to avoid annoying popups, disruptive display ads, unnecessary notifications and much more. 

Meanwhile, you want your website to load super fast and feature sharp formatting. Users should be able to find the information they need without delay. 

To assess your website’s current user experience standards, you can delve into Google’s Core Web Vitals service and see how you measure up.

Analyse Your Search Traffic Drops

Seeing your rankings drop after a core algorithm update is never a nice feeling.

But Google offers some helpful advice to help you analyse your search traffic drops and recover your rankings. 

They suggest business owners assess the report charts within the Google Search Console. This will help you determine whether you have a problem on your hands, or are just experiencing a momentary glitch. 

You should also consider the wider state of your industry. Ask yourself whether a new product, a widespread disruption or regular seasonality might have caused your rankings to dip.

Analyse Your Search Traffic Drops

Focus on E-A-T Standard

E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness) is the gold standard recognised by Google. It’s a significant element in the overall quality of a website. 

But what exactly does E-A-T involve? We know that websites dealing with medical, legal or financial information have to be particularly careful about the accuracy of the information presented to users. However, this idea can be extended to every kind of website. 

To benefit from Google’s E-A-T framework, business owners should look for industry experts to contribute content, avoid thin articles, generate backlinks from authoritative sources and consider the overall safety of users.

Follow Google’s Advice

Google is fully aware that core algorithm updates dramatically impact a business’s rankings. 

Although they don’t reveal what has changed about the algorithm when initiating an update, Google does offer broad advice to help business owners avoid SERP dips. 

Keep in mind that, if your rankings drop, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve done anything wrong – Google has simply changed their priorities. 

However, any business owner would want to navigate core updates with minimal disruption. Strive for high-quality content, optimised structured data and an excellent user experience.

Google's Search Engine Optimization Advice
Image Credit: Jeremy Lende / Shutterstock

Conduct an SEO Audit

It’s important to understand that exceptional SEO is a continuous process. Websites need to keep up with the latest standards and make ongoing changes. 

New Google search updates can alter ranking criteria substantially – both positively and negatively. A regular SEO audit ensures you stay on top of any SEO concerns. 

First Page Australia’s talented team offers a free SEO audit tool, where you will receive a detailed report on a myriad of vital on-page and technical metrics in under three minutes.

free seo audit tool - first page

Don’t Panic

You wouldn’t be blamed for panicking after seeing your website traffic falling off a cliff. But try your best to keep your composure as traffic often recovers between core updates. 

This is stated by Google themselves, who advise businesses to hold out for a considerable period following core updates before making wholesale changes to their SEO strategy. 

As Google says: “Of course, no improvement we make to Search is perfect. This is why we keep updating.” If you haven’t cut any corners to achieve your rank, sometimes pausing and collecting data is the best approach.

Adapt and Prosper with First Page Australia

The latest Google SEO update might have negatively impacted your page rankings, but that doesn’t mean all is lost. You have the power to take action on your website’s SEO and put your business back at the top of the SERP where it belongs. 

However, achieving top-quality SEO that drives traffic and conversions is a complicated process that requires the help of an expert team. This way, you can be perfectly prepared for when the next core update strikes.

First Page Australia has long remained on the cutting edge of Google’s optimisation practices. We know how to navigate the most recent algorithm updates with ease. 

We’ve helped thousands of clients around the world level up their SEO and dominate their sector, including Enterprise SEO. We can do the same for your business – whether it’s an SME or operating at the enterprise level. 

Get in touch with our talented digital marketers to find out more.