Google Algorithm Updates September and October 2023

Google Algorithm Updates September and October 2023

In the first half of 2023 we only saw a handful of updates by Google. However in the second half of 2023, we have seen updates back to back in September and October. This is off the back of a core algorithm update seen in August. In this article, we will take a look at the Google algorithm updates seen in September and October.

Google Logo on wall


Google announced the launch of the September 2023 Helpful Content Update, which began on September 14th and was completed on September 28th. Google Search’s helpful content system generates a signal used by Google’s automated ranking systems to better ensure searches see original, helpful content created, in search results.

The Google helpful content system aims to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well. Any content, not just unhelpful content, on a website deemed  to have relatively high amounts of unhelpful content by the system is less likely to perform well in search. Google has stated “This classifier process is entirely automated, using a machine-learning model. It works globally across all languages. It is not a manual action nor a spam action. Instead, it’s just one of many signals Google evaluates to rank content.” Google also mentions “The signal is also weighted; sites with lots of unhelpful content may notice a stronger effect.”

Google have had their E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness) content guidelines in place for quite some time now, so this update will not change too much as long as website owners have created content with these principles in mind. Google has always placed importance on content being created to answer user queries, in turn, being helpful to users to find information. This update is bringing this back into focus, especially off the back of the AI content boom we’ve had in 2023.

October Spam Update 2023:

Google announced the launch of the October 2023 Spam Update, which began on October 4th and completed the roll out October 20th. This update applies globally and improves coverage in many languages. 

This spam update specifically focuses on cloaking, hacked, auto-generated, and scraped spam content; and covers multiple languages and regions. This is from the feedback Google has received from their community who reported seeing increased spam results in their native languages. Google is using a mix of automated spam-fighting systems and human review to identify and demote pages and sites that violate its policies. Google releases updates like this periodically to stay ahead of spam trends and keep results high quality; and have seen updates like this in the past. Here are a few things Google considers as spam content:

  • Cloaking
  • Doorways
  • Hacked content
  • Hidden text and links
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Link spam
  • Machine-generated traffic

October Core Algorithm Update 2023:

Google announced a core algorithm update, which began on October 5th and after weeks of gradual rollout, completed the update on October 19th.

Core algorithm updates are general updates seen to Google’s algorithms across the board, in order to promote E-E-A-T principles and derank poor, non-helpful content. This can cause a shift in rankings, with websites potentially seeing positive/negative outcomes from the update. While the update was rolling out, organic performance and rankings may have seen multiple fluctuations. Now that the update has been rolled out, website owners can see the full effects of the update on their website. 

What does this mean for marketers:

Off the back of these updates, it is clear that Google is once again highlighting that the way to improve organic performance and earn better rankings, is to create content that follows Google content guidelines, content that is helpful to users and answers their queries. Content that is not seen as helpful may see a downturn in performance. Also, the spam update highlights that monitoring spammy backlinks and bad SEO practices should be monitored as Google has placed importance on clearing up spam content.

If you need help to react to these Google updates, or your SEO strategy in general, please reach out to the Digital Carrera team!

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