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Google Algorithm Updates 2023: The Year in Review

8 min Read . Dec 29, 2023

Google continually refines its search ranking algorithms to deliver optimal and relevant results to users. According to statements from Danny Sullivan at Google, the search engine implements an average of nine algorithmic changes daily, amounting to over 3,200 adjustments within a year. These modifications encompass a spectrum, ranging from minor tweaks in search queries to substantial shifts in the core algorithm, such as the annual rollout of Broad core algorithm updates.

While Google provides some transparency with significant algorithm updates, numerous alterations occur monthly, often escaping notice unless there are noticeable fluctuations in website traffic. Unexplained variations in search engine results page (SERP) volatility, as reported by SEO experts and SERP sensors, are termed “unconfirmed updates.” This blog specifically focuses on confirmed algorithmic alterations to ensure accuracy and reliability.

For marketers, staying abreast of these algorithmic changes is imperative to keep their brand’s website optimized according to the latest search engine criteria, ensuring visibility for potential customers. Recognizing instances of volatility in search results becomes particularly useful for marketers navigating the dynamic landscape of SEO.

The year 2023 has seen a series of impactful changes, each influencing how search results are ranked and displayed. Let’s take a closer look at the timeline of Google’s key algorithm updates in 2023.

Google Released 4 Core Algorithm Updates In 2023

In 2023, Google experienced a substantial increase in core updates, totaling four, compared to the two core updates observed in 2022. These updates occurred in March, August, October, and November, signifying a heightened frequency of significant adjustments to the search engine’s core algorithms throughout the year.


  • March 2023: Duration- March 15th – 28th
  • August 2023: Duration- August 22nd – September 7th
  • October 2023: Duration- Oct 5th  – Oct 19th
  • November 2023: Duration- Nov 2nd – Nov 27th

March 2023 Core Update 

The core update from Google in March 2023 was announced on March 15, concluding its 13-day rollout on March 28. According to certain data providers, the overall volatility during this update was comparable to that observed in previous core updates. Visit the Google Search Central blog to learn more about Google Search’s reviews system.

The March 2023 update brought about notable shifts in Google’s ranking criteria. Page speed, a long-standing factor, gained increased significance. Faster-loading websites now enjoy higher search result rankings, while slower ones may experience a decline. Mobile-friendliness also saw heightened importance in this update. Given the growing trend of mobile internet usage, Google accentuated the need for websites to be mobile-optimized. 

The content quality received a renewed focus as well. While Google has consistently valued informative and engaging content, the March 2023 update underscored its critical role. Websites offering high-quality content are now more likely to secure higher positions in search results.

The core update in March 2023 has significantly influenced search engine rankings, necessitating SEOs and website owners to adjust their strategies. To sustain a robust presence in search results, a focus on user experience and the creation of valuable content is imperative.

August 2023 core update

The August 2023 core update by Google commenced its rollout on August 22, spanning 16 days until its completion on September 7. In contrast to expectations based on data providers, the overall volatility during this update was relatively subdued, presenting a milder impact than anticipated. To know more about Google Search’s core updates visit Google Search Central blog.

Google introduced its core update in August 2023 intending to enhance search results. A decline in page performance after the update doesn’t necessarily signify a problem; rather, it pertains to the relevance of the content. The assurance of recovery from a core update is not guaranteed and can vary; consistent enhancement of content remains essential. The alterations center around refining how Google assesses content more broadly. These changes may result in enhanced search result rankings for pages that were previously overlooked, or conversely, they might have an opposing effect.

October 2023 core update

The core update for October 2023 from Google announced its rollout on October 5, concluding after a 14-day process on October 19. Assessing overall volatility proved challenging due to its overlap with the October spam update. However, various data providers reported a substantial impact, indicating significant fluctuations during this period. Learn more about October 2023 spam update.

Google has enhanced its mechanisms for detecting spam. The Spam Update in October 2023 expands coverage to include multiple languages and diverse forms of spam. In case you observe changes after the update, it is advisable to review and ensure compliance with Google’s spam policies.

November 2023 core update

Announced on November 2, with a completion timeline spanning 26 days until November 19. Notably, the November 2023 core update’s overall volatility surpassed that of the October spam update, as reported by various data providers. It’s important to note that this update coincided with the November reviews update, contributing to the dynamic landscape of search results during this period.

This update consistently assesses content centered on reviews and opinions without additional notifications. Websites providing reviews are advised to concentrate on aligning with Google’s quality guidelines to acclimate to the updated system.

Other Confirmed Updates in 2023

February 2023: “Product Reviews” Update – February 21, 2023

Product reviews update from Google in February 2023 announced its rollout initiated on February 21, concluding after 14 days on March 7. Analysis of overall volatility indicated a more substantial impact compared to previous product reviews updates, as reported by certain data providers. 

The update is being deployed to the following languages:

  • Dutch
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Indonesian
  • Italian
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Vietnamese

This Update comes with a revision to the existing guidance on Product Reviews updates. The objective is to offer enhanced clarity on the product review system and its assessment criteria, encompassing factors like the reviewer’s expertise, the trustworthiness of the review, and the overall quality of the content. The Google product reviews update is designed to elevate review content that surpasses the commonplace templated information found across the web. Google intends to boost the visibility of these exceptional product reviews in its search results rankings.

While Google does not explicitly penalize lower-quality product reviews characterized by “thin content that simply summarizes a bunch of products,” if your rankings diminish due to the promotion of more insightful content, it may feel like a penalty. Google clarifies that this isn’t a direct penalty against your content but rather a reward for sites featuring more substantive review content, ranking them higher. It’s important to note that, according to Google, this update is specifically targeted at product review content and should not impact other types of content.

April 2023 Reviews Update  —  April 12, 2023

Unveiled on April 12, 2023, the April 2023 Review Update stands as a substantial algorithmic revision specifically addressing reviews across various categories, including products, services, destinations, games, movies, and related subjects. This update holds significance not only for SEO professionals but also for businesses highly dependent on customer reviews. Google has also updated the name of its “product reviews system” to the “reviews system” and has modified the language across various sections of its guidance documentation on product reviews to encompass all types of reviews.

Languages: English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Russian, Dutch, Portuguese, Polish.

Search Generative Experience  —  May 25, 2023 

The Google Search Generative Experience (SGE) introduces a novel perspective on search results. In this experimental search encounter, generative artificial intelligence (AI) takes center stage, offering users swift and clear insights into search topics without the necessity of navigating through individual web pages.

You can simplify your upcoming search using advanced generative AI capabilities by:

  • Quickly grasping new or intricate topics.
  • Discovering Rapid Tips for Your Specific Queries.
  • Finding Instant Solutions for Your Queries.

How-to and FAQ Changes  —  August 8, 2023

Google revealed alterations to the presentation of FAQ and How To rich results on August 8, 2023. More specifically, FAQ-rich results will appear less frequently in search result snippets, while How-to results are now confined to desktop devices.

September 2023: “Helpful Content Update”

The September 2023 helpful content update by Google announced its rollout on September 14, lasting for 14 days until its completion on September 28. Despite being the sole helpful content update in 2023, its significance looms large, with ongoing discussions among SEOs about the lasting impact it had on both businesses and clients. The repercussions of this update continue to be a prevalent topic in the SEO community. If you wish to learn more about Google Search’s helpful content system, find more information regarding the update from the Google Search Central Blog.

Indented Results Drop, Part 2  —  September 20, 2023

Google has ceased displaying indented results in its search listings. Traditionally, Google would present an indented search result beneath the main result if it originated from the same domain. However, in the later weeks  Google has discontinued the practice of indenting these results.

October 2023: “Spam Update”

October 2023 spam update from Google had the objective of addressing various forms of spam reported by the community in languages such as Turkish, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Hindi, Chinese, and others. Google explicitly stated that the update aimed to diminish the prevalence of spam in search results, highlighting issues like cloaking, hacked content, auto-generated material, and scraped spam. The intended outcome was to minimize the visibility of spam and enhance the overall quality of search results.

November 2023 reviews update:

The November 2023 reviews update will consistently assess content centered on reviews and opinions without additional notifications. Websites providing reviews are advised to concentrate on aligning with Google’s quality guidelines to acclimate to the new system.

Navigating through these dynamic Google algorithms in 2023, digital stakeholders need to adapt their strategies accordingly. Staying abreast of these updates shall ensure a proactive approach to SEO, ultimately contributing to improved visibility and success in the online realm. Keep a watchful eye on further developments, as Google continues to refine its algorithms to deliver the best possible search experience for users worldwide.


In conclusion, the ever-evolving nature of Google’s search algorithms demands constant vigilance from marketers and website owners. The year 2023 has witnessed a series of impactful updates, each designed to enhance different facets of the search experience. From precision in understanding user intent to prioritizing mobile-friendly designs, improving visual search capabilities, and emphasizing online security and user experience, these algorithmic changes reflect Google’s commitment to providing optimal and relevant results. Adapting to these updates is crucial for maintaining visibility in search results and reaching potential customers effectively. By staying informed about confirmed algorithmic alterations and adjusting strategies accordingly, digital stakeholders can navigate the dynamic SEO landscape with a proactive approach. As we move forward, continued attention to Google’s search algorithm developments will be essential for sustained success in the online realm.

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