The Google Core Update Impact on SERPs

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As the SEO community prepares for the Page Experience update, the summer of Google updates has already begun.

June 2 Google announced its very first core algorithm update for 2021, to be followed by another in July:

As industry professionals place emphasis on slow rollout, we can now finally see the full extent of the impact and unpack the most important things to know about the June 2021 core update.

Impact of kernel update on SERPs

SERP volatility measurements from Semrush Sensor suggest that the update-related changes affected the SERPs around June 4-5:

Semrush Sensor (Desktop data)

Since then, SERP volatility has been at relatively calm levels.

On top of the update effect, on June 4, average SERP volatility in all sectors had scores of 9.2 (for desktop) and 9.3 (for mobile). This means that the latest core update is comparable in its scale to those we witnessed in May and December 2020.

June 2021 Winner and loser of kernel updates

After monitoring changes in both mobile and desktop statistics, we saw that mobile SERPs seemed to be a little more unstable. However, the difference is very thin, as the desktop fluctuations are lower by only 0.2 margin.

During the first two days after the update, SERPs were fairly calm with average volatility of 4.5 marks (the green zone level). However, things started to move faster on the 4th-6th. June.

Days after the last update, almost all sectors were within the red zone, implying that the core algo update affected almost all industries.

The most affected industries

Absolute volatility figures may not give a clear idea of ​​the most affected industries – News and sports sectors typically see high volatility levels, update or no update.

Relative counts, however, may reflect the full picture of the impact across different industries.

Days after the update, the five most affected sectors on both mobile and desktop SERPs were Health, Autos & Vehicles, Pets & Animals and Science & Travel. On the mobile web, Real Estate, People & Society and Beauty & Fitness saw similar levels of volatility.

The most affected sites by size

More than 50% of the most affected sites were within the small to medium range with a monthly traffic of 500,000 or less.


This pattern is consistent across sites that experienced both the majority of position peaks and falls.

The most affected page categories

After analyzing the top 100 winners and losers after the update, we were also able to locate the industries that experienced the biggest gains and losses on the position.

Core update winners

Websites that experienced the biggest visibility gains mainly belonged to the food & beverage, law & government sectors as well as internet and telecommunications.

On average, the update-inspired SERP winners received 23 positions.

Loc8nearme (+108 positions), Foursquare (+90), MoovitApp (+52) and BusinessyAB (+50) are the four largest sites that experienced the largest average position spikes. And they are all related to finding local businesses or exploring the local infrastructure.


Organic research tool (loc8nearme’s traffic changes)

With the U.S. economy almost completely reopened now, the latest Google kernel update reflects this pattern.

Here are the top ten sites that experienced the highest average placement gains in the June 2021 update (data for June 4-6):

Top 10 SERP Winning Domains (June 4-6)

Losers of key updates

There are no winners without losers. While some domains experienced impressive placement gains, others saw their average positions decline.

Websites within Job & Education, Business & Industry and, oddly enough, our winning sector, Food & Beverage, saw the biggest position fall a few days in the update.

On average, sites lost about 16 positions, which is not as dismal as in the previous update in December 2020 (average loss was 23).

The two places that suffered the most were travel-related – Fresno Yosemite International Airport’s website lost as many as 50 positions, and Oklahoma’s Will Rogers World Airport saw a drop of 36 positions.

Here are the top 10 places that were hardest hit on top of the update effect (June 4-6):

Top 10 SERP Losing Domains (June 4-6)

Preparing for the summer with Google updates

If it weren’t for Google’s immediate algo update from July 2021 and the Page Experience update, we might have seen more discussions about the latest one. But like Google admitted, they could not fit everything into a broad core update from June 2021, so we could expect more changes soon.

Also, some of the position girls or drops may be reversed by the July update, so we should all be aware of the next Google surprise.

One thing is still clear, though. Although you can not secure the future of your site against algo updates that affect your organic visibility, carefully follow Google’s recommendations and keep an eye on your own rankings as well as SEO and content expertise.

Semrush always has its back as you prepare for the next big algo update:

  • Our site monitoring tool will automatically locate any site’s health problem and provide improvement ideas to maximize your SEO performance.
  • The Position Tracking Tool’s custom triggers notify you immediately when you experience a drop in positions, and help you monitor your location.

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