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What do we know about the March 2023 Core Update?

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Information updated on April 1, 2023

On March 15, 2023, Google announced the first core update of 2023, the March 2023 Core Update.

As usual, the update has been rolling out for several weeks, 13 days and 7 hours to be exact, and the end of the rollout has been reported separately.

While it's too early to draw any final conclusions, I'd like to gather all the information we have on the deployment of the March core update so far. Later I will update the article as new information becomes available.

SERP Volatility during the March 2023 Core Update

A high level of changes in the search results was recorded on the second day after the core update, on March 16, on the third day, and also 2 weeks later - on March 29.

It is noteworthy that the volatility was observed in different language results, and not just in English. Affected desktop and mobile issuance.

For more information about What is SERP volatility, as well as the listed tools for analyzing volatility, you find in a separate article.

At blog page there is a detailed description of the volatility of the issue during the rollout of the update, as well as a comparison of the March update with the previous ones.

March 2023 Core Update

The video shows the level of volatility during the rollout of the March 2023 Core Update.

Cases of site decline/growth after March 2023 Core Update

Lily Ray Analysis

For analysis, the Lily Ray team used a sample of 7,000 sites. Winners and losers were determined using the Sistrix Visibility Index metric, that is, the visibility index of the Sistrix site (for more details, see the page about Sistrix Visibility Index). The Sistrix Visibility Index was taken for US results for March 15-28 (deployment time for the March 2023 core update).

On the study description page March 2023 Core Update: winners, losers and analysis, you can see specific listings with sites that get the highest visibility ratio, as well as sites with the lowest visibility. I will not duplicate them here.

Here are some of the findings from the article:

1. Comment on sites that have lost traffic from the dictionaries/encyclopedias category:

What these sites generally have in common is that they don’t have their own unique product offering per se, but rather, they aggregate information and data from elsewhere around the internet.

2. Comment on sites from the travel category:

One interesting pattern among the winners and losers in the travel category is that many of the winning sites are the hotels themselves, such as IHG, Hilton, Marriott, Omni, Four Seasons, Radisson, and others. The losers tend to fall more into the affiliate category (with some significant affiliate winners being the exception).

3. Comment on the change in the issuance of niche sites:

Some niche sites that demonstrate true “Experience” saw increases.

4. Comment on the change in the issuance of medical sites:

Some big health players [clinics, government agencies] slightly lost visibility, giving more room to smaller health sites.

Lily Rae's general conclusion was as follows:

This core update showed less of a clear pattern than some prior core updates.

It turns out that it is still difficult to accurately determine the relationship between the individual parameters of the site and its behavior in the issuance after the update. Those conclusions on individual sites that were listed above are quite logical, but their accuracy needs to be double-checked.

By the way, so far this is the only sensible article (and not a Twitter thread) on this topic. That is, in the English-language issue there are a lot of texts with the news that the core update has begun, there are even some forecasts and screenshots with volatility (everyone notes that it is very high), but no meta-analysis with specific conclusions. Therefore, we further analyze the comments and threads of individual users.

WebmasterWorld comments and Twitter threads

After analyzing all the information in the SERP, I realized that there are not many relevant studies yet, so I decided to sit on webmasterworld forum and on twitters of well-known experts to read about their experiences and observations. Here are my findings:

March core update conflicts with previous updates

Many users have noticed that their site has changed its dynamics (began to grow or vice versa began to fall) compared to the previous update, in particular compared to December link spam update. Important! This is not a 100% trend, but it is simply strange that such cases occur, and in large numbers:

Comment on webmasterworld regarding March 2023 core update Comment on webmasterworld regarding March 2023 core update

March 2023 update is very unstable

The large number of messages is due to the fact that users report a significant loss of traffic at the beginning of the update deployment and a return of traffic by the end of the update.

Comment on webmasterworld regarding March 2023 core updat Comment on webmasterworld regarding March 2023 core updat


Firstly, it is important to understand that no one can 100% correctly interpret the reasons for the drawdown or growth of a single site, since there are thousands of ranking factors, and it is impossible to analyze all of them for a large number of sites. You can draw your own results of analyzes and conclusions, but I only provide the information collected.

Secondly, it seems to me that this update often shows the growth of sites that sank after the December Link Spam Update 2022 (although not always, but apparently, there are some patterns). In addition, large well-known sites, top in their niche, feel better too - this affects almost all categories, except for medicine. It looks like Google has improved the ranking of product sites, and small aggregators without their own product have suffered.

If your site sank after the March 2023 Core Update, please read the core update article: it says that if the site did not receive filters, but simply sank, then you should just continue to publish high-quality useful content on the site, and in the end search engines will evaluate your project.

I will follow the update further, but you can also email me your findings/observations if you are interested.

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