During the course of a recent hangout, John Mueller of Google fame was quizzed on the mechanics of core update quality recoveries.
Specifically, he was asked whether it still takes several months for Google to re-evaluate whole of a website, he was asked how webmasters know they are heading for a good result after the next core update.
Roughly summarised, he said that six months is still a generally accurate time frame, but in some instances a website may see improvements much sooner. Somewhat vaguely, he said it can take a “couple of months, half a year, maybe even a bit longer.”
As for the second question, Mr Mueller said that there is basically nothing you can do to know for sure whether you are headed for improved performance following a subsequent core update. He commented on the extent switch modifications could be made to satisfy what you think will lead to improved performance, but actually verifying anything as such is pretty much impossible.
Here is a brief extract of Mueller’s comments from the video:
“I think the timeline is probably about right. I’m sure there are situations where it can go a little bit faster but on a whole that’s probably something which takes, I don’t know, half year or longer almost for things to kind of settle down. And it’s I think partially due to kind of us needing to reindex everything on the site understanding the site again, partially also just because all of the quality signals that we collect they just take a long time to kind of be built up. So that’s something where a couple of months, half a year, maybe even a bit longer, I think that would be kind of the norm. I’m sure there are situations where it can be faster but for the most part it’s probably in that range.”
“With regards to recognizing when you’re kind of on the right track. I think that’s super hard because on the one hand you have the situation where you’re moving pages so you might see kind of like a drop in traffic from those pages. I think overall if you look at the metrics for your site the pages that you remove are probably pages that don’t get a ton of page views so maybe that’s something that something that wouldn’t pull down your overall traffic from search or not that much. But it takes a long time for things to kind of start seeing more and more traffic and kind of being picked up as being higher quality.”
“So one thing I would try to do is to find try to find some other proxy metrics that you can use for recognizing the quality of your site. And that could be something like looking into analytics and looking at things like I think like they call it the engagement right now or other metrics where you have kind of time on site, where you have something where when you look at the metrics now or when you compare to the metrics that you had maybe a month ago before you started working on this you can tell that actually those were pretty bad and with these improvements we see kind of this shift in user behaviour.”
“And it’s not so much that we would use that user behaviour directly in search. But it’s something that’s more like a leading indicator for you to let you know that you’re on the right track. So that’s kind of the direction I would look at it there.”
“On the one hand kind of you shouldn’t see a big drop from the pages that you remove, you should see kind of like this slight subtle shift in user behaviour through the other metrics that you track, and then over the course of I don’t know a couple of months you’ll probably see like a gradual increase and then at some point you see maybe a bigger jump.” “From a kind of a Google search quality point of view, I don’t think taking a small subset of a site and improving the quality of that would be enough to make us say oh this is a different part of a site and this is high quality and this is kind of medium quality, I will treat it differently. I think for the most part we would look at it or try to look at it as an overhaul thing and it might be that the small set that you improved kind of moved the overall average up a little bit higher but that’s not something I would kind of wait for. Because if you’re talking about a half a year and you improve 10 of your pages and after half a year you realize oh I need to improve even more, like you’ve kind of wasted a lot of time.”