Understanding the October 2023 Core and Spam Updates: Insights and Analysis
Written by Aaron Rain Oct 10th 2023
October 2023 Core Update
On October 5, 2023, this update was announced. Google has made major modifications to their algorithms and infrastructure to provide more accurate, useful results. Google's recent improvements are finding that other information is more beneficial than yours, not a penalty or relegation.
I have not seen much movement across my monitored sites. It could take two weeks to update. (Added: Semrush sensor spiked this morning. It didn't accomplish much during the helpful content shakeups, so it's unclear if this is significant.
As a new GA4 user, you should be aware that GA4 often has a reporting latency. GA4 may not be reporting your traffic accurately if it appears to have dropped to nothing.
Also, GSC is often a few days delayed. Real-time rank tracking may help, but sites won't know whether they've been affected for a while.
The October spam update was running when the core update was issued. Google often releases overlapping updates. The December helpful content update ran on December 5 last year, while the December link spam update ran on December 14. We launched Product Reviews with last year's September core upgrade.
October Spam Update
On October 4, 2023, Google launched the October 2023 Spam Update. This update reduces spam in Turkish, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Hindi, and English. Google expects cloaking, hacking, auto-generated, and scraped spam to decrease in search results.
My guess is that Google wants to eliminate AI-generated search spam.
Google did not claim this update constituted link spam. Some spam updates focus on link building.
Given the core upgrade the next day, it may be hard to tell what hit you. Spam updates really target sites that try to mislead Google by breaking spam policies, in my experience. While the spam update may have caused your traffic to drop this week, most sites will blame the core update.
Some SERPs were claimed to be swamped with spam, but I discovered most of them spam-free. This update continues.
Useful Content System News
Sites affected by the September Helpful Content Update are still being analyzed. You can submit your site for my study here.
This update's Google statement, “You'll definitely see more refinement of the helpful content system,” was crucial. I expect additional improvements to make material rank based on its usefulness rather than SEO.
My findings on the submitted sites will be reported soon. It may take a week—community observations.
- A site that targeted “all the keywords” lost 70+% of its traffic, according to Lily Ray. Keyword rankings are down 4–70 spots for all keywords.
- Keith from Niche Twins showed that “Can't type in Teams” SERPs contain 9 Microsoft forum results before an article on the topic.
- Kasey Moore and Glenn Gabe shared this site with bad UX after the helpful content upgrade. Lily Ray illustrates again.