How the March 2023 Google core update compared to previous core updates
We asked some of the Google tracking data providers for data on the latest Google algorithm update.
Now that the Google March 2023 broad core update is done rolling out, we wanted to take a deeper dive on how this core update differed from previous Google core updates. This update was indeed a big one, and caused a lot of ranking volatility across many verticals in the Google search results.
March 2023 core update. As a reminder, the Google March 2023 broad core update started rolling out March 15, 2023, took 13 days to complete, and finished on March 28, 2023.
Data providers on the March 2023 core update
So far, two data providers sent us their reports on this March 2023 core update. We have data from Semrush and RankRanger and in this case, the two data companies are not telling exactly the same story. In short. Semrush said the March 2023 update was more volatile than the September 2022 core update, while RankRanger said it was about as volatile at that previous core update.
Let’s dig into the data.
Semrush. Semrush data showed that the March 2023 core update hit a peak of 8 in terms of their Semrush Sensor data volatility. When you compare that to the September 2022 core update, that update only reached about 5. Here is a look at the peaks for both updates over the period of time they rolled out:
“The volatility increases seen during the March 2023 Core Update relative to the pre-update baseline were 74% higher than what was recorded back in September,” Mordy Oberstein, who sent us this data from Semrush told us.
Here is a chart just comparing the percentage of URL changes in the Google Search results for each update:
If you compare it by vertical, you can see Semrush is showing the March 2023 update to be significantly more impactful than the September 2022 update.
“The March 2023 Core Update relative to the September 2022 Core Update – 8.7% of the top 10 results now ranking on the SERP previously ranked beyond position 20 prior to the update. Back in September, that number stood at 6.5%. Thus, the data again points to more significant rank fluctuations during the March update,” Mordy Oberstein told us.
RankRanger. The RankRanger team also sent us data but their data told a bit of a different story when comparing this March 2023 core update to the September 2022 core update. First off, this was a big update, the RankRanger Rank Risk Index showed big volatility the day after the update started to roll out:
RankRanger then compared how volatile this March 2023 update was to not just the September 2022 core update but all the previous core updates since December 2020. And while the March 2023 core update was one of the biggest updates, it seemed to match the intensity of the September 2022 core update.
“When we look at the average fluctuations for the March update, we see that it was one of the biggest updates topped only by the June 2021 update,” Darrell Mordecai from RankRanger told us.
Also, when RankRanger looked at the top 3, top 5, and top 10 positions, the data showed that the March update 2023 showed lower rank volatility than the September 2022 update in the top 5 positions.
Finally, RankRanger showed how the verticals, they call it niches, were impacted by this update, across the top 3, 5 and 10 result placements in the organic Google Search results.
More on the March 2023 core update
Community. On the Search Engine Roundtable, I did a bit of a roundup on what the community noticed across three different stories. The first story currently has just under 500 comments on the story, then the second story was a spike we saw around March 23rd/24th with over 120 comments and then I did a roundup on the competition of the rollout the day after the rollout was completed.
Based on all I see from the community, this update was big.
What to do if you are hit. Google has given advice on what to consider if you are negatively impacted by a core update in the past. There aren’t specific actions to take to recover, and in fact, a negative rankings impact may not signal anything is wrong with your pages. However, Google has offered a list of questions to consider if your site is hit by a core update. Google did say you can see a bit of a recovery between core updates but the biggest change you would see would be after another core update.
Why we care. It is often hard to isolate what you need to do to reverse any algorithmic hit your site may have seen. When it comes to Google core updates, it is even harder to do so. What this data and previous experience and advice has shown us is that these core updates are broad, wide and cover a lot of overall quality issues. The data above has reinforced this to be true. So, if your site was hit by a core update, it is often recommended to step back from it all, take a wider view of your overall website and see what you can do to improve the site overall.
Hopefully, your company and your clients did well with this update.
More on Google updates
You can read more of our coverage in Search Engine Land’s Google Algorithm Updates history.
New on Search Engine Land