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Impact of the September 2022 Core Update Across UK Ecommerce Sites

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The Re:signal eCommerce SEO Report (based on Sistrix organic visibility data in Google UK for mobile-based searches) was updated yesterday to provide the most up-to-date figures following the rollout completion of the September 2022 core update. The report aims to show which brands have seen search visibility changes and provides a look back at how the eCommerce industry trends and challenges have impacted the market over the last 12 months in weekly intervals.

While Google keeps rolling out search ranking updates (as many as 3 significant updates in the last 1 month alone), and we have the last 52 weeks of search visibility data handy, we thought it would be great to see the impact following:

  • September 2022 core update
  • September 2022 product reviews update
  • August 2022 helpful content update

Before digging into the data & providing insights, we’d like to clarify:

  • Opinions below are based solely on the data and trends noticed across the domains included in the report and as such any positive/negative impact recorded is based on the Sistrix Visibility Index.

  • Any visibility gains/drops around the period the recent search ranking updates from Google were launched do not always mean they are the cause, considering the last two updates Google rolled out were concurrent.

  • The calculations are a mere comparison across visibility index values across two date ranges, pre and post-updates. Whilst it tells a lot about the severity of the update itself, I feel it doesn’t factor in the brand’s strength, the overall changes across the visibility over a longer period of time, which is why we recommend checking out our eCommerce SEO Report which includes a Year on Year view of each individual domain.

Impact of the September 2022 core update across UK eCommerce sites

Released on September 12, 2022, the September 2022 core update rollout was completed on September 26, 2022. Even while the update was in progress, the SEO community was buzzing with how impactful this update is proving to be, far more than the previously released helpful content update (more on that later).

Across the 250+ eCommerce domains we track in the UK, 133 saw a major to minor positive impact and 117 domains saw visibility drops during the September 2022 core update.

This data compares the search visibility index between pre-September 12, 2022 data (when the update was released) and post-September 26, 2022 data (when the update rollout was complete) to calculate the impact:

Positive Impact: absolute change

Across the top 25 domains based on the absolute change that saw positive impact:

  • A good few sites showed significantly huge absolute positive change. Some of the ones that saw big gains include: 
    • Amazon.co.uk is up 475.6 points which is 17.7% of its domain uplift which is huge
    • ebay.co.uk is up 315.7 points which is 24.3% of domain uplift
    • Etsy.com is up 87 points which is 12% of the domain uplift
  • Other notable mentions with a considerably high percentage of gains but not as big absolute change among this list include:
    • Tesco.com up 18.5% with 15.5 points gain
    • Abebooks.co.uk up 23.5% with 6.7 points gain
    • Pets4homes.co.uk up 32% with 6.1 points gain
    • Sony.co.uk up 31.6% with 3.8 points gain

Noticeable changes were mainly across the Electronics, Fashion, Home/Decor & Shopping/Classifieds categories.

Positive Impact: percentage change

Across the top 25 domains based on the percentage change that saw a positive impact:

  • A big number of sites showed significant positive percentage changes, albeit small absolute gains with notable mentions including 
    • Fetch.co.uk is up 140% but with only 0.001 points gain
    • Levi.com up 75% with a 0.98 points gain
    • Oka.com up 54% with a 0.26 points gain
    • Claires.com up 53% with 1.8 points gain 

Noticeable changes were mainly across the Fashion & Pets categories.

Negative Impact: absolute change

Across the top 25 domains based on the absolute change that saw negative impact:

  • A good few sites showed noticeable negative absolute change, including 
    • Argos.co.uk is down -48 points which is about -8.7% domain decline
    • Gumtree.com is down -39 points which is about -48.5% domain decline, that’s almost half of the visibility dropped
    • Houseoffraser.co.uk is down -22 points which is about -27% domain decline
    • Therange.co.uk is down -15 points which is about -11.6% domain decline
  • The overall decline in terms of percentage amidst these top absolute change sites was notable across a good number of domains such as:
    • Lionshome.co.uk is down -30% with -4.1 points down
    • Whsmith.co.uk is down -18% with -6.5 points down
    • Cardfactory.co.uk is down -18% with -2.35 points down
    • Waitrose.com is down -18% with -3 points down

Noticeable changes were mainly across the Department store, Home/Furniture, Shopping – Classifieds/General and Supermarkets categories.

Negative Impact: percentage change

Across the top 25 domains based on the percentage change that saw a negative impact:

  • Many sites showed noticeable negative percentage changes,  albeit small absolute drops,  with notable mentions including:
    • Hema.com is down -89% but only a -0.022 change in visibility
    • Gumtree.com, lionshome.co.uk and houseoffraser.co.uk we’ve already discussed in the previous section
    • Reiss.com and Monki.com are both down -26% with a -0.18 and -0.20 drop in points respectively

Noticeable changes were mainly across the Fashion and Home categories.

Here is what the top-level summary looks like:

  • September 2022 core update was broadly more rewarding, than punishing. The highs were too high, but the lows were not equally opposite
  • Regional domains gained a lot with Amazon UK, eBay UK showing dominance in the UK, whilst their .com variants saw drops (which can be called a correction). This trend is irrespective of the core update as we have seen this move up/down quite often over the last year.
  • Similarly, some brands with .com domains are dropping off visibility to launch their ccTLDs for UK which are fast gaining visibility
  • A handful of brands are fading away from visibility due to the economic situation or going out of business/declaring bankruptcy.
  • According to the participants of our webinar following the September 2022 core update, the update is still going strong and will have more impact over the coming days.

The overall impact of the September 2022 core update across categories of UK eCommerce sites

For those familiar with our eCommerce SEO Report, we track the data over 250+ eCommerce domains of interest. We have categorised them into various sub-categories within the eCommerce space for a more granular view of trends as a whole across a similar group of sites.

Following the September 2022 core update, we’ve consolidated individual domain data of all the domains by their categories to get absolute gains/loss data to get an overview of where the update was more impactful, and where it did not make a significant difference. For reference, we have also provided the YoY visibility change to get a wider perspective across a period of time. Some note-worthy points are:

  • Shopping – General/Classifieds recorded a massive absolute gain in visibility, but this can singlehandedly be attributed to Amazon UK (+475 points) and eBay UK (+315 points) respectively. This impact is so powerful that, it even cancels out the biggest absolute loss in visibility for Argos (-48 points) and Gumtree (-39 points), who both fall in these categories.
  • Arts & Crafts again can be single-handedly attributed to etsy.com
  • Similarly, across the absolute drop in visibility, the Home/Furniture saw the biggest drop which can be singlehandedly attributed to therange.co.uk (-15 points), while across Books & Stationery despite abebooks.co.uk (+6 points), the overall drop across the category can be blamed on whsmith.co.uk (-6.5 points) and waterstones.com (-5.3 points) dropping significantly.

Fancy a deep dive into the data for Sept 2022 core update? you can see the data here. If you want, you can read the full report here.

Have any questions? don’t hesitate to get in touch!

 

Did the August 2022 helpful content update impact UK eCommerce sites?

Yep, but actually not really. Released on August 25, 2022, the helpful content update rollout was completed on September 9, 2022. The chatter among the SEO community on the helpful content update has been unanimous, that it wasn’t as impactful as much as the surrounding hype predicted following its release. 

Our data found this to be relatively true across the 250+ eCommerce domains we track in the UK, where 63 saw a minor positive impact and 187 domains saw visibility drops during the helpful content update. 

This data compares the search visibility index pre-August 25, 2022 and post-September 9, 2022 to calculate the impact:


Positive Impact: absolute change

Across the top 25 domains based on the absolute change that saw positive impact:

  • Very few sites showed noticeable positive absolute change, some notable mentions include 
    • Wilko.com is up 2.5 points which is a 5% domain uplift
    • Sportsdirect.com is up 1.8 points which is a 2.7% domain uplift
    • oakfurnitureland.co.uk up 1.4 points which 31.9% domain uplift
  • The overall uplift in terms of percentage amidst these top absolute change sites was only notable across a handful of domains such as
    • Oakfurnitureland.co.uk up 31%
    • Coop.co.uk up 13%
    • Brandalley.co.uk up 13%
    • Poundland.co.uk up 8.6%

Noticeable changes were mainly across the Home – Homeware/Furniture/Decor, Sportswear and Supermarkets categories.

Positive Impact: percentage change

Across the top 25 domains based on the percentage change that saw a positive impact:

  • Many sites showed noticeable positive percentage changes with notable mentions including 
    • Simbasleep.com is up 43% with a 0.119 points gain
    • Oakfurnitureland.co.uk up 31% with 1.4 points gain
    • Little-mistress.com and frenchconnection.com up 24% with 0.134 and 0.059 points gain, respectively

Noticeable changes were across the Fashion and Home – Homeware categories.

Negative Impact: absolute change

Across the top 25 domains based on the absolute change that saw negative impact:

  • Many sites showed noticeable negative absolute change, including 
    • Amazon.co.uk is down -172 points which is about -6% domain decline
    • eBay.co.uk is down -74 points which is about -5% domain decline
    • Etsy.com is down -44 points which is about -5% domain decline
    • Amazon.com is down -18 points which is about -7% domain decline
    • Asda.com is down -16 points which is about -16% domain decline
  • The overall decline in terms of percentage amidst these top absolute change sites was only notable across a handful of domains such as
    • Asda.com is down -by 16%
    • Sony.co.uk is down -by 29%
    • Newlook.com is down -by 18%

Noticeable changes were mainly across the Shopping -Classified/General, Home – Furniture, Fashion, and Supermarkets categories.

Negative Impact: percentage change

Across the top 25 domains based on the percentage change that saw a negative impact:

  • Many sites showed noticeable negative percentage changes, albeit small absolute drops,  with notable mentions including:
    • Thorntons.co.uk down -89% with -1.24 points change in visibility
    • Fetch.co.uk is down -84% but only a -0.003 drop in points
    • Sony.co.uk is down -29% with -5 points drop
    • Zara.com is down -20% with a -1.3 points drop
    • Newlook.com is down -18.7% with a -4.8 points drop
    • Asda.com is down -16% with a -16.3 points drop

Noticeable changes were mainly across the Fashion and Home categories.

 

For deep dive into the data for August 2022 helpful content update? you can see the data here. 

Have any questions about the methodology or eCommerce visibility in general? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.