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The 2022 Google Algorithm Updates Explained


Nearly every piece of modern technology needs updating. Google is no exception. Google algorithm updates can significantly impact your multi-location business’s local and general rankings on Google Search and Maps.


In this article, we’ll explain each of the 2022 Google search algorithm updates and potential impacts on your multi-location business.


Different Types of Google Updates


Google has four types of significant updates, all of which fall under their “list of rankings updates.” Below are the four update types and short descriptions of what they entail.


  • Core updates: These are Google’s most comprehensive updates. Core updates look to improve how Google assesses content. They will reshuffle page rankings and results that were previously under-rewarded.


  • Helpful content updates: This update aims to improve the user experience. Helpful content updates look to reward content where users had a satisfying experience while lowering content that doesn’t meet a user’s expectations. 


  • Product review updates: This update only applies to English searches globally. Product review updates aim to gauge product review content and reward original research and insightful analysis of products.


  • Spam updates: Google’s automated systems constantly search for and detect spam. The spam updates are simply notable improvements to Google’s automated spam filtering systems.


List of 2022 Google Search Ranking Updates 


Below are the ten main 2022 Google search ranking updates, starting with the most recent update. Here’s a visual for reference as well, listed chronologically.


A bar graph showcasing the 2022 Google Ranking Algorithm Updates

Courtesy of Search Engine Land


December 14, 2022 – Link Spam Update


Google’s link spam update is a targeted spam update for, you guessed it, links. The update is likely leveraging SpamBrain, which is an AI-based spam-prevention system aimed at detecting spam directly and sites that buy links.


This links spam update took longer than expected (two weeks) to complete but finally wrapped up on January 12, 2023. If you experienced ranking declines during this period or shortly afterward, ensure that your links follow a natural progression. 


December 5, 2022 – Helpful Content Update


Similar to Google’s August helpful content update, which we’ll discuss later, the December update was designed to reward web pages created for people versus search engines and sites that add unique or novel content to the web.


This December 2022 update took 38 days to complete, much longer than the expected two weeks. However, the update was less volatile than the August one, with fewer movements in the SERPs. 


October 19, 2022 – Spam Update


This was Google’s first spam update in nearly a year. The last one occurred in November 2021. The spam update aimed to better spot and catch new types of spam. Sites that violated Google’s spam policies were affected. 


September 20, 2022 – Product Reviews Updates


This update only applied to English-language product reviews and finished on September 26, 2022. It aimed to promote review content that is superior to the templated review information you often find online. 


It’s not directed at punishing lower-quality product reviews but does factor in “thin content that simply summarizes a bunch of products.” 


September 12, 2022 – Core Update


This update took a full two weeks to roll out and came out three days after the August 25th helpful content update finished rolling out on September 9th. 


Despite being a core update, its impact was less felt than previous updates. Some rank volatility did occur. Those most affected were YouTube, which Google owns, dictionary and thesaurus sites, and LinkedIn.


August 25, 2022 – Helpful Content Update


This content sent a few shockwaves through the SEO community since Google openly stated that the helpful content update “aims to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well.” 


In short, Google expects content to be written for people first rather than trying to rank on search engines. 


July 27, 2022 – Product Reviews Update


This was the fourth version of the product reviews update that Google’s rolled out. The others took place on April 8, 2021, December 1, 2021, and March 23, 2022.


All product review updates aim to promote review content that goes above and beyond the templated information you often find online. The July 27, 2022 update was less significant than previous product review updates; it refreshed the algorithm and made slight adjustments.


May 25, 2022 – Core Update


The May core update was relatively substantial and impactful. According to Search Engine Journal, the May core update worked to make Google more visually appealing by indexing more videos and adding more images of products.  


 In late May and early June, some marketers saw dramatic swings and drops in traffic. However, these were mild compared to the last core update, which occurred in November 2021. Here’s an image from Semrush showing rank volatility between the two core updates.


Chart from Semrush showing rank volatility change comparison between November 2021 and May 2022 updates

Courtesy of Semrush


March 23, 2022 – Product Reviews Update


The March 2022 product review took a while to roll out, 19 days to be exact. This update reiterates the need for more unique detail within your product review content. For instance, reviewers should include audio, video, and visuals of your own experience with a product and links to multiple sellers to give readers purchase options.


February 22, 2022 – Page Experience Update for Desktop


The February page experience update for desktop is similar to the mobile ones rolled out in June and August 2021. According to Google, the update aimed to help site owners “understand how their desktop pages are performing with regards to page experience using a Search Console report.”


The update looks at the three main Core Web Vital metrics: Largest contentful paint (LCP), first input delay (FID), and cumulative layout shift (CLS). Their associated thresholds will impact desktop ranking. Ideally, you want to be in the 75th percentile of page loads. Below you’ll find what a good Core Web Vitals report on Google Search Console looks like.


Google Search Console Core Web Vitals Screenshot showing mobile and desktop charts of poor urls with green and red lines

Courtesy of Search Engine Land


And that’s a wrap on Google algorithm updates for 2022. As a multi-location marketer, it’s essential to stay up to date with the latest algorithm updates. Keep an eye out in 2023 as more updates are likely to happen.

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