August 2023 Core Update | Google Podcast

Hello there. Is everyone feeling all right? We’re asking because yesterday was the “sickest day of the year” in the United States. That’s according to a five-year study that Flamingo just finished up. Flamingo is a software company (that we’d never heard of before yesterday) whose primary product helps businesses manage employee time off. Their study determined that Americans call in sick to work on August 24 more than any other day of the year. The second-sickest day of the year is February 13, and the rest of the top ten dates are October 25, December 15, April 18, February 2, January 24, June 26, December 12, and September 5.

We bring this up to showcase an inspiring marketing achievement. Flamingo’s software tracks unsexy statistics about paid time off requests and sick days. It’s probable that only HR departments and middle managers knew about Flamingo until recently. We’ve all heard of it now because they were able to convert their unexciting data into compelling content. Flamingo got CBS, Bloomberg, Fortune, The Today Show, Yahoo, The New York Post, Axios, countless local news outlets, and international publications like Al Arabiya News and India Times to report their study. Bravo.

A new episode of Search Off the Record, a podcast from the Google Search team, was released on Tuesday. John Mueller and Martin Splitt hosted it and Danny Sullivan (the public liaison for Google Search) joined them as a guest. The voices should sound familiar to anyone who watches SEO Office Hours videos.

Tuesday’s podcast spends some time discussing the Google Search ranking systems documentation that Mr. Sullivan created. The main focus of the episode is why ranking systems change and how the Google Search team thinks digital marketers should react to Google’s algorithm updates.

An easy-to-understand ranking factor whose importance diminished over time before vanishing altogether is whether or not a website uses TLS (formerly SSL) encryption. The presence of that encryption is what distinguishes an https:// URL from a URL that begins with http. Before HTTPS was common, websites could improve their rankings by implementing it. HTTPS became less and less impactful as the percentage of websites using it grew. Now that TLS encryption is ubiquitous, HTTPS is a baseline standard and not a ranking factor at all.

The new Search Off the Record podcast discusses how and why ranking factors change because they’re changing again right now. Google’s August 2023 core update began rolling out on Tuesday. It will probably be complete around the end of the first week of September.

We don’t know much about which websites are most affected by the new core update yet. The folks on Google’s Search team stress that beyond your sites meeting Google’s technical SEO requirements (one of the three sections that make up Google Search Essentials), your only priority should be making sure that all of your content is helpful, reliable, and people-first. Google’s automated ranking systems are penalizing content that primarily exists to attract visitors from search engines.

If any of the websites you’re responsible for take a rankings dive as a result of the ongoing core update, check how well it adheres to Google’s page experience guidelines. It has quite a few bullet points, but a few that stand out are making sure your pages have passing Core Web Vitals numbers, look good on mobile devices, and aren’t full of automatically generated text.

It’s already late in the day. We need to wrap things up. There are quite a few notable non-marketing news topics to occupy yourself with anyway, even if you exclude stories from the United States. Did you hear about the death of a prominent Russian billionaire two days ago? Sheesh. The brightest candles burn up in airplane explosions.

Closing links:

1) Here’s an unexpected 2023 marketing strategy: the somewhat-viral cigarette brand Hestia is driving sales with “cigfluencers.”

2) TikTok just shuttered its Storefront feature. Read a post-mortem here.

3) Hootsuite published a guide to boosting engagement on LinkedIn with carousel ads and posts yesterday. Check it out here.

All right. We gotta get out of here. Have a great weekend.

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