Looking Into Google’s September 2019 Core Update

Posted on October 25th, 2019 by nms

In an effort to provide more accurate search results and a better user experience, Google continually updates its core algorithm, the set of instructions that process search queries. Over the years, Google has updated its algorithm dozens, if not hundreds, of times – with some incremental tweaks and others comprising vast changes to the core. September’s core update follows the company’s near-annual major update rollout, and for insurance SEO, this update can have dramatic impacts on search ranking and online search visibility.

The September Core Update: Pre-Launch

On September 24, 2019, Google rolled out its newest core update. Prior to the launch of this update, Google announced it to the world, a departure from the company’s typical practices where it only indicated update launches after the fact. In fact, the company has only recently begun to make pre-rollout announcements, following a similar core update launch in June of 2019. As with any core update, the process takes a few days to complete and only then will the effects, if any, of the update begin to be apparent. 

Post-Launch Effects of the September Core Update

SEO professionals were not sure what to expect from the September core update rollout. Prior updates often caused significant impacts in search rankings, causing websites to rise or fall in rankings. SEO teams were then able to pinpoint that the update was the cause of shifts in rankings, giving them the ability to piece together tactics for restoring rankings for given web properties.

After the launch of the September update, many SEO professionals suggested that the effects were not as significant on rankings as the June 2019 update. As with the June update, websites in the “Your Money-Your Life” (YMYL) category – websites focused on finances, retail, health, and travel – saw the greatest impacts. Volatility, or a measurement of fluctuations in ranking,  in this category was substantial; according to RankRanger, top 10 results showed volatility increases of:

  • 92% in health-related sites
  • 85% in finance-related sites
  • 59% in retail-oriented sites
  • 55% in travel-related sites


Preliminary Observations

It remains too early to tell what the long-range impacts in search rankings may be. Within the YMYL category, websites falling under E-A-T, or Expertise, Authority, and Trust – those that are recognized as valuable online resources by search engines, may have seen substantial changes in ranking. This may be a temporary fluctuation, or it may indicate that the search engine is attempting to better evaluate criteria that influence ranking in E-A-T. This segment of the YMYL category may include websites that cover insurance topics; insurance SEO professionals are watching search rankings carefully to determine if changes in strategy may be needed to regain ranking, or if the algorithm update did not really negatively affect those rankings. 

One of the interesting observations reported by SEO professionals after the update is that the search engine has increased relevance for video content associated with numerous informational keywords. For insurance SEO, this can mean an opportunity to create video content showcasing insurance products and solutions, helping to improve search visibility across the board. It is no secret that Google has pushed video content into the upper realms of online visibility, especially in response to user demands for video content from their favorite companies and personalities. 

Tips for Insurance SEO Professionals

Again, it is impossible to make too many predictions about the long-term impacts of Google’s September core algorithm update. For now, however, there are several aspects that remain the foundation of high rankings, regardless of industry sector. For insurance SEO, aspects to consider include:

  • Content Authority and Quality – high-quality content has long been the leading way to stand out in search results, Here, content quality includes page titles and content headers/subheaders that catch users’ attention while remaining relevant to the topic.
  • Comparison with Competitors – is the website and its content more valuable than competing sites in terms of information delivery and the user experience?
  • Expertise in Subject – Google weighs authoritative, trustworthy content more favorably than content that is slapped together. Expertise here includes pages that are error-free and deliver valuable information to site visitors.
  • Presentation to Users – this aspect covers the visual appeal and layout of pages but also takes into account the presence or absence of ads and the page’s ability to display correctly regardless of access device. 

SEO professionals continue to research the impacts that the September core update may have had. Adhering to time-honored search visibility principles seems to be the best way of maintaining high rankings in search results, as has been the case for many of Google’s earlier algorithm updates. 

About Agency Tsunami

Agency Tsunami is the digital marketing division of Neilson Marketing Services, who has provided the insurance distribution sector with innovative marketing and communication solutions for over twenty-five years. With our Agency Tsunami program, we have implemented an integrated marketing strategy that includes optimized, professional websites supported by high-quality SEO and Social Media for hundreds of insurance retailers and wholesalers. Our goal is to help your insurance business perform and generate new opportunities. Give us a call at (800) 736-9741 to learn more about how we can do that for you.