Google Confirms Core Updates Can Affect Local & Image Search Whether Content is Affected by Core Updates "Depends" on the Situation, Says Sullivan

author image Written by: Nicole McCormick           Categories - In The News, SEO

Interesting news for Google Image and Local Search enthusiasts – contrary to popular belief, core updates can, in fact, impact both image search and local search results. This comes directly from the source, Google Public Search Liason, Danny Sullivan.

While Sullivan had previously stated that core updates don’t impact local results, he is now changing his tune. On August 3, he confirmed on Twitter that it actually depends on the situation, as core updates can affect all different types of content across search.

“Core updates can involve image results or any type of content because they involve our core ranking systems that themselves involve all types of content. That’s why our page about them mentions ‘content” so often,’ said Sullivan, adding that generally, core updates don’t involve local search.

“It typically wouldn’t do much. But it could because…core updates involve our core ranking systems…”

READ MORE: July 2021 Core Update Completes 12-Day Launch

Sullivan’s comments were made in response to SEO consultant and Search Engine Land columnist, Glenn Gabe, who posted on Twitter how core updates can impact image search with examples and tagged Sullivan to confirm.

After his initial comments, Sullivan went on to explain how you can tell if your image or local search content has been impacted by a core update.

“Typically, if you see — as our post says — “widely notable effects,” that’s a sign a core update is playing a role with content.”

So, there you have it. Images and local search can be impacted by core updates. Are you surprised by this revelation?

READ MORE: SEOs React to July Core Update

Nicole McCormick

Nicole is a wordsmith wizard, passionate about the written word and an avid storyteller who uses creatively crafted prose to help bring your brand’s story to the next level. A former journalist with writing credits in both local and national news publications and a few newspaper awards under her belt, Nicole now enjoys telling your stories and finding new and creative ways to create valuable content that resonates with audiences in the digital landscape.

July 2021 Core Update Completes 12-Day Launch


SEOs have kept their eyes peeled all summer for information pertaining to Google’s various updates. Finally, Google has announced that its pair of summer core updates has finished rolling out.

Google launched its first core update of the year on June 2. With the launch, Google said that it would be splitting the core update into two launches – one for June and one for July.

The June update completed its rollout on June 12, and the July update began its rollout on July 1, finishing yesterday, as per an announcement from Google:

The core update is a particularly significant type of update. Upon a core update launch, Google makes broad changes to its search algorithms, in turn affecting what metrics are used to rank pages on SERPs. Following a launch, SEOs and site owners should pay close attention to their sites’ performance.


Not Done Cooling Down Yet

Even though the July core update is finished rolling out, tracking tools are still showing plenty of heat. Over the last twelve days, there have been two ‘spikes’ of activity – one on July 2 and one on July 9. It’s possible that sites are still reacting or catching up, even though Google isn’t making more explicit changes.

SEMRush as of July 13 at 10:00 a.m.

Have You Been Affected?

It’s not always clear following a core update which sites or pages will be affected. Most SEOs would agree that the update phase feels like a rollercoaster.

SEO Barry Schwartz writes that he’s ready plenty of theories about the recent updates on forums and social media. These posts speculate on what the update’s actual outcomes were, and what site owners should do to recover. However, Schwartz warns not to feed into these theories without proof.

I don’t think any of those theories have anything to do with what a core update is about or what it actually does,” he says. “Please be careful when reading these theories and associating them with the core update. I really think they are unrelated and lead you to fishing for the wrong thing.”

SEO Glenn Gabe, meanwhile, writes that he’s seen volatile results across sites from certain categories.

Specifically, sites with content pertaining to finances or the health and medical industry seemed to be hit hardest. Additionally, sites with product reviews have been hit hard, especially considering that the product reviews update was launched in the spring.

Gabe provides plenty of tips for SEOs who want their sites to recover. He points out that, unfortunately, you may have to wait for the next update to see favourable results.

“Sites that are heavily impacted by broad core updates typically cannot see recovery until another broad core updates rolls out,” he says.

Still, site owners should take an ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ approach to fixing their rankings. This means checking every possible factor rather than assuming a drop in rankings comes from one specific thing.

A Timeline of Recent Updates

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Google Launches July Core Update


Google kicked off July with a bang. The tech company began rolling out a core update on July 1. They announced this in a tweet posted to the Google SearchLiaison Twitter account:

SEOs know that Google has plenty of different types of updates – but the core update is significant. When Google launches one, it makes broad changes to its search algorithms that affect what metrics are used to rank pages on SERPs. In other words, SEOs and site owners should pay close attention to their sites’ performance following a core update.

The new core update is the second of its kind to be launched this summer – previously, Google began rolling out a core update on June 2, completing the launch on June 12.

READ MORE: SEOs React to June Core Update

During the June core update’s rollout, Google explained that they had previously planned to launch one core update, but would instead split it into two: one for June and one for July.

In June, Google tweeted that some aspects of the update weren’t ready to launch, but they still wanted to begin the rollout.

The company also explained that the dual nature of the launch could cause chaos.

“Because of the two-part nature of this release, it’s possible a very small slice of content might see changes in June that reverse in July,” the company explained.

Since it takes a while for the effects of a core update to set in, there’s no consensus on how the latest update will shift results. Considering that Google has been on a hot streak with updates – they recently launched two ‘spam updates’ – SEOs might need time to determine what actually caused the changes to their rankings, if any.

How the Update Has Affected the Web So Far

It takes time for the effects of an update to appear more clearly. The coming days will reveal how SEO enthusiasts and site owners respond to the latest update.

Prominent SEO blogger Barry Schwartz notes that the July update seems to have more noticeable results compared to the slow rollout seen with the June update.

Other industry experts, including Glenn Gabe and Lily Ray, have joined the conversation:

Our own VP of Search and Digital, Rob May, shared an analogy that captures the madness that follows Google’s updates:

Here’s what prominent search tracking tools are showing as of 11:00 a.m. on July 2, 2021.



TIMELINE: Google’s Summer of Updates

The last few weeks have been busy for SEOs, as Google has launched plenty of updates. Here’s a recap of what we’ve seen from the tech company:

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