What is that ? How long does it take to recover?


You were recently impacted by the Google Core Update of June / July 2021 and you are wondering how long it will take Google to take into account the changes you may have made in the meantime on the quality of your pages (and your site as a whole)? How many months do you have to wait to hope to see your site’s SEO traffic curve start to trend up again after an algorithmic penalty? John Mueller, Google’s webmaster trends analyst, shared some very interesting answers on this subject. Here’s all you need to remember.

During a Google Hangout like there are many every year, Google’s John Mueller was asked some interesting questions about traffic drops from Google Core Updates algorithmic updates, average recovery times and KPIs to follow to identify if a recovery is underway:

  • What is the average recovery time for a site after experiencing a traffic drop related to a Core Update?
  • What are the criteria that influence the average quality reassessment time and organic traffic recovery from Google?
  • Does the size of a website affect the time it takes to re-evaluate the quality of a site by Google?
  • How do you know when you are on the right track and the site is being reestablished? Which criteria to analyze and which KPIs to follow?

In this article, we offer you a summary of the exchange and what you really need to remember.

Table of Contents

Reminder: what is an algorithmic penalty imposed by Google?

Unlike a manual action (or manual penalty) imposed by a Google Search Quality Rater, an algorithmic penalty is a automatic penalty of a site in its entirety or of specific pages which often takes place during updates of the positioning factors and their respective weight in Google’s algorithms which manage the ranking of natural (non-sponsored) search results.

What is the average recovery time for a site that has suffered a drop in traffic linked to an algorithmic penalty of the Core Update type?

3 months ? 6 months ? 1 year ? More ?

There is actually no average time limit strictly speaking valid for all sites but Google talks about several months without however, as usual, giving a precise duration because it is quite simply impossible.

To say that a few months will be enough for any site impacted by a drop in traffic linked to a Core Update to recover once the improvements are live would be totally false, although it is possible.

In the Hangout in question, John Mueller recalled that Google takes time to re-evaluate a site once significant changes are detected.

He also confirmed the deadline of several months, specifying that for some sites it will only be a few months, for others, 6 months, and for still others, the deadline could be longer, of the order of ‘a year or more.

In a tweet from June 2021, John Mueller had already recalled that patch recovery time was taking a while and that it was clearly not instantaneous:

»Making significant quality changes to a site takes time to be captured and reflected in search results (Google). These items often take several months to be restated and reassessed. ”

John Mueller – Google

Does the size of a website affect the average time it takes for a site to be re-evaluated by Google?

Although he was asked the question, John Mueller did not clearly answer this question but it would appear that this is not the factor that has the most influence on the average time taken to reassess the quality of a site. .

Other criteria thus have more impact.

What are the criteria that influence the average time observed for a return to normal, or even an inversion of the traffic curve, after re-optimizations?

Although the average recovery time after improvements could be set at around 6 months in view of the information shared by Google, the actual delay will depend on many factors both linked to the site which suffered the decline, to the teams who will work on the areas to be re-optimized and to the constraints specific to Google.

On the site side, the recovery time is for example depend on several factors like :

  • the number of pages impacted across the site;
  • the quality of the audit of the points causing the drop in traffic;
  • the quality of the corrective measures implemented;
  • the responsiveness with which the patches were deployed following the loss of traffic analyzed.

For his part, Google also has technical and structural constraints which make thatthere is in reality an incompressible delay linked to the way in which the sites and the quality criteria are evaluated and analyzed.

According to John Mueller, this analysis takes time and is heavy in resources for the search engine, so it cannot be carried out at too regular an interval for all the sites present in its index, which seems quite logical …

Each site is different and has its own criteria to re-optimize

Depending on the size of the site, the number of pages impacted, the problems to be corrected, the reactivity in the deployment of the fixes, the “return to normal” time for an algorithmically “penalized” site can vary from a few months to several years based on information shared by John Mueller.

The crucial step remaining above all to properly identify the probable causes of the degradation of the quality (perceived by Google) of a site, and more particularly, of its pages, in order to then be able to set up a corrective action plan. to achieve and deploy.

Is it possible to identify signals that reflect an ongoing or future recovery?

According to John Mueller himself, “ It’s very difficult “To know if you are on the right track and heading towards a recovery of organic traffic from Google.

As an example, John relied on the practical case of the professional who asked him the question.

In his case, he deleted many low-quality pages that could adversely affect the overall perceived quality of his site by Google.

John then replied that deleting low-quality pages could lead to a drop in traffic in the short term and therefore, indirectly, that following the SEO traffic curve from day to day was not necessarily the best. way to analyze whether what we do has a positive impact or not.

Indeed, despite an additional drop in traffic at time T, this action could have positive repercussions during the re-evaluation of the site by Google and thus participate in the overall recovery of organic traffic.

So, according to John Mueller, the ideal in this case is to follow the evolution of other KPIs related in particular to the user experience such as the average time spent on the site, the number of pages visited on average per visit, the bounce rate, the conversion rate…

Although John, and Google at the same time, does not induce by these words to confirm that they use these metrics in the ranking of their search results (even if on my side I am convinced of it), they are indicators , which, if they are moving in the right direction, can tell you that you are on the right track …

Source: English Google SEO office-hours of August 13, 2021

Do you have an opinion on the question of algorithmic penalties? Did you experience a penalty and want to share your experience with others? Do not hesitate to share all this with us through the comments below, we will be happy to join the discussion and answer you.

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