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SEO Developments in September 2022

Google finished the summer with a bang, with 3 big updates rolling out to Search. The helpful content update roll out began at the end of August. It has since been followed this month by the year’s second core update, along with yet another product review update. With a lot of change to account for, here’s the latest in SEO.

 

Google Updates

September 2022 Core Update

First announced on Twitter, between 12-26th September Google was rolling out a core update.

Google's Tweet for the September 2022 Core Update

Whilst Google is making updates to their main search algorithm daily, a core update is where Google anticipates there will be noticeable change to results. In these instances Google likes to give a warning, which is why it’s always worth keeping an eye on their Twitter account!

To date we  have not seen any impact to our clients’ organic performance from this update. What we’re seeing at Uprise Up also seems to align with the results seen by others in the SEO community. Generally, the consensus has been that this update was weaker than other core updates released in the past.

There was a brief period of volatility recorded by tools after the update initially started to roll out, but this quickly dropped back down to regular levels. The reduced impact of this update was apparent across all industries and niches. As shown by SEMRush below, compared to the last Core Update in May, this impact was very slight. With May also deemed a weaker update compared to the November 2021 core update, September really did little to organic performance. In fact, SEMRush says September showed a 53% reduction in volatility increases compared to May.

SEMRush's volatility rends comparison graph covering the rollout of the September 2022 core update

This year has been unusual for core updates as we’ve seen so few of them. We’re nearing the end of 2022 and this is only the second core update this year. With how they’ve been spaced out, hopefully it may be the last one of the year, though with Google you never know.

 

September 2022 Product Reviews Update

Another one! As we mentioned in our August Round Up there was a product review update released at the end of July. This has now been followed up with another update, which rolled out 20-26th September. Affecting only English-language product reviews, the update seems to be continuing with focusing on rewarding sites that produce high quality product reviews.

With roll out only completing in the last few days, we’ve yet to really see what the impact is of this update. An update that will predominantly be impacting sites that focus on review content, we don’t anticipate is affecting results for our clients.

The rollout of the product review update did overlap slightly with the core update. If your site produces product reviews and has seen an impact over the last few weeks, Google have said it is more likely the product review update will be the update affecting results than the core update.

 

Helpful Content Update

The Helpful Content Update (HCU) was released late August – September. It was an update Google built up in the weeks leading to its release. As a result of Google hyping up this update there was expectation that the update would be a big one, causing high levels of volatility and big changes to the rankings.

In the words of Google, the update aimed “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”.

In other news, content should be created with the user in mind, not search engines. Dull, templated content created just to rank, rather than meet the needs of the user, will not do as well moving forward. Google is making it very clear that a good user experience is what websites need to focus on, with content contributing to that goal significantly.

However, the reality is that HCU was an underwhelming update that did not meet set expectations. For us this was unsurprising as nothing new was introduced in this update. For years Google has stressed the need to create content with the user in mind, for websites to place the user at the centre of everything they did. This is the advice they provide every time they roll out a core update. As such, creating user-focused content should already be the practice for websites. And the minimal impact of this update does seem to indicate this is the case. So, if your site hasn’t seen any negative fallout from this update, it’s likely you’re already doing the right thing.

User Experience has already been brought tighter into SEO with the page experience updates released over the last year. Whilst it does make sense that Google is making clearer and clearer the need to create a website for users and not search engines, it’ll be interesting to see what the next steps are that Google takes to further push this focus.

 

General SEO

New HTTPS Report in Search Console

A new HTTPS report is due to be rolled out to Search Console properties over the next few months. This report has been developed following requests online for more information on HTTPS.

HTTPS report on Google Search Console

HTTPS has been confirmed by Google to be a ranking factor for a few years now. It’s not a strong ranking signal, but it is looked at more as a ‘tiebreaker’ signal. Between a HTTP and HTTPS site that is otherwise quite similar in set up and content, Google is more likely to favour the HTTPS site. This will be due to the security HTTPS offers over HTTP, which Google has previously stated is a priority for websites. Security was again re-iterated recently with the page experience updates.

On paper this report sounds like a useful addition to the suite of reports Search Console already provides. With 95% of websites globally now moved to HTTPS, this report will be helpful in flagging where HTTP versions of pages are available or referenced. We’ve yet to see the report available across any of our clients Search Console properties, but we’re keen to investigate it when we can.

 

What was your key SEO update for September?

Did we mention your highlight of the month, or have we missed something? Alternatively, if you have any burning SEO questions do get in touch. We’d love to hear from you!

Join the conversation and tweet us @upriseUPSEM, email us at hello@upriseup.co.uk, or simply send us a message through our contact page.

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