What to Do When the December 2020 Google Core Update Hit Your Site

Google continues without giving us rest. Thursday, December 3, the search engine announced on Twitter that it was releasing the December 2020 Core Update. A new update of the core of its algorithms that, of course, will affect the volume of organic traffic on websites.

This update is like the last ones: confusing and contradictory. In this post, we are not going to give you new clues about what happened in May. We’re not going to fool you. Doing a simple search allows you to find different theories about what Google has wanted to reward/punish this time.

There has been some speculation about whether Web Vitals have been applied in Google’s latest major update these weeks. Some experts say that the search engine has “awarded” fast websites with a good user experience … At least I am not sure. The Web Vitals’ announcement is after the update. After the update, we have seen upward variations in websites very slow and, on the contrary, significant drops in some web pages that loaded like lightning.

What is Core Update?

It is essential to know what these adjustments consist of to understand what this new update to the Google algorithm entails.

The Core Update is the in-depth update of Google’s search ranking systems (SERPS), websites’ organic positioning. There is no single central classification algorithm, but rather, according to the American company, there are a series of factors the algorithms take into account, such as:

  • Query words
  • Relevance
  • Usability of the pages
  • Degree of specialization of sources
  • Location
  • Setting

Although many say ‘new update of the Google algorithm’ is the same as saying ‘the coconut is coming,’ it does not affect the same. There are web pages that are significantly affected, and others reinforced.

Google continually makes small adjustments to its algorithms, and many go unnoticed. Webmasters or web page owners know when they will be significant for the Internet when they have specific names. Google uses this resource to warn the online community and pay attention to those aspects that it penalizes.

The Intention behind These Updates is to Show The Most Relevant Content for User Searches.

One more point that Google always emphasizes is that a negative impact on the ranking may not signify your website’s problem. These updates are made to improve how the internet giant evaluates content in general, showing results relevant to user searches.

So, in general, you should consider creating a quality site with great content adjusted to your theme or vertical. Much more than just overcoming this Google update, but to improve your overall positioning with valuable content that your target audience cares about.

It only remains attentive to the changes that the core update of December 2020 shows us during the coming weeks. Still, as always, there will be websites that gain or lose positions in the search results. We will then understand the factors that Google has changed in this update and if it is necessary to make any changes in our SEO strategy.

New Google Algorithm Update, New SEO Reformulation:

For many, the announcement of this significant update of Google’s central algorithm (Google Core Update 2020), the third during this 2020, has been a jug of cold water. Many websites have come across this ‘gift’ just the day before Christmas with little room for maneuver. As if everything that happened during 2020 had not been enough, Google has ended up finishing it off.

How Do I Know If The December Google Core Algorithm Update Has Affected Me?

This question is around more than one and one, and that is, as we said at the beginning of the article, it may or may not affect you. Now, if you have been the lucky ones and Google has considered penalizing some aspect of your website, do not despair. First of all, you must breathe, see your ranking in the SERPs and analyze:

  1. Daily organic traffic
  2. Clicks, impressions, and CTR
  3. Visibility in the Google ranking
  4. The volatility in the results of both your website and the competition
  5. And, above all, that the content that your website offers try:
  6. Ensure information that builds trust and gives authority to the page.
  7. Participation of experts or enthusiasts who offer quality content.
  8. Avoid duplicating content or topics so that they do not cannibalize each other.
  9. Writings without spelling or stylistic errors
  10. Offer unique, original content or with own research and analysis.
  11. Provide differential value and rigorous quality control.

Now not everything depends on the keyword and your positioning concerning them since the algorithm increasingly perfects the results it offers depending on the type of request that the user has. What does depend on you is the content you want to provide and what your website has. Suppose you ensure that you meet the quality standards and SEO technical aspects that are being readjusted with these updates. In that case, your SEO level does not have to be negatively affected.

Remember that Google promotes organic questions and creates new, natural, and quality content capable of answering them.

The Most Significant Updates before the Google Core Update 2020

On January 13 of this year, the American company released a first update (January 2020 Core Update). In it, Google made its intentions clear: to search all the web pages of its search engine for the most useful and relevant results in a fraction of a second. Of course, it was rewarding those sites that will add value to user inquiries.

Google has started, and this year, it has been readjusting its algorithms to put quality content before SPAM content. Also, websites that perform Black SEO, bad web positioning practices.

In May of this year, the company carried out a second update (May 2020 Core Update). It opted for the appearance of new modules incorporating new types of results such as images, videos, local modules, or enriched fragments. As always with Google updates, the company does not announce these recent changes. Users have to analyze the metrics and look for patterns that explain the classification and interaction with your website.

These two updates are the most recent, but the truth is that since 2011 Google has been working incessantly to offer the most useful results for each query.

Among them, we found:

Panda (2011): It analyzed the content and penalized the excessive use of the primary keyword and duplicate content or added value.

Pirate (2012): Google created a filter to fight against piracy and preserve the copyright of the content published on the web pages indexed in its search engine.

Penguin (2012): It rewarded those pages that naturally and progressively got links to their content for quality.

Venice (2012): It opted to boost local searches without searching by city (Google detected the location through the same IP). Also, it caused traffic to drop on national services’ general web pages.

Hummingbird (2013) analyzed the searches’ semantics to be more natural and had more consistent results. It has been one of the changes that have had the most impact. More than 90% of web pages were affected.

HTTP to HTTPS (2014): Google awarded those websites that migrated to the SSL certificate (HTTPS). It represented a substantial change for web pages and their positioning since those that didn’t would be relegated by the upgraded ones. Another of the disadvantages that this new algorithm contracted was the duplication of web pages and content.

Google Pigeon (2014): Focused on improving local search; this algorithm put local links before general ones.

Pirate 2.0. (2014): In this update of the Pirate (2012), Google awarded those web pages that offered legal downloads, and that complied with copyright laws such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Mobilegeddon (2015 and 2016): With this algorithm, Google promoted responsive themes so that web pages were ‘mobile-friendly.’

In 2016, Google put mobile web views before the desktop version with the new ‘mobile-first index’ algorithm. If both versions differed a lot, the search engine penalized the website.

Rankbrain (2015): Continuing with the Hummingbird algorithm, with Rankbrain, Google incorporates Artificial Intelligence and automated learning to sophisticate and adjust user queries’ responses.

Possum (2016): Modified the Venice algorithm (local searches) by expanding the results sampling radius. It was no longer limited to the specific location but also included neighboring municipalities.

Fred (2017): This algorithm focused on those web portals seeking profit through their pages with tools other than Google Ads.

YMYL (2018): This update focused on combating those websites that did not have professional support in their content. Money and health websites were the hardest hit.

Neural Matching (2019): Neural matching is an algorithm based on Artificial Intelligence to analyze and identify users’ search intentions.

What Can You Do if A Google Core Update 2020 Hit Your Website?

Let’s go into it in parts… The second thing you have to know is that the Core Updates do not apply to a specific online project.

Google has nothing “personal” against your website. Unless it discovers that you have voluntarily or mistakenly gone over to the dark side of SEO and are “cutting” down “Black Hat” trails. If you are in that situation, it could penalize you. The seeker does not like cheats.

The Google Core Algorithm Update respond to changes in their evaluation criteria and content classification (or part) of the Internet. These modifications may sometimes harm you and others, as they harm and favor many other pages in your sector.

With these significant updates to its algorithm’s core, Google tries to improve its users’ quality. This is the only thing that interests it: it cares very little about how good or bad your page does.

So, in principle…

There exists no “antidote” to recover from a Google Core Algorithm Update.

When it comes to SEO, on any website, there are always things to improve. Aspects that affect users’ experience (readers, your patients) and that make things easier for Google when establishing the quality and relevance of your content.

Because its search engine does not understand things the way, we humans do. It looks for “signals” correlated with how its users establish the “relevance” of what we find on the Internet.

These “signals” are reflected in the SEO work you can do on your website. Doing an SEO audit is the best way to discover areas for improvement on any page.

SEO is not static and does not usually offer short-term results…

It is a very dynamic process in which you compete for the first positions of the results with other pages under rules that you do not know and that Google changes frequently.

Remember that SEO is a zero-sum game.

The visits you lose after an update are won by other pages that compete with you to be at the top.

By reading this post, you already took the first step: you have to understand how Google works, what an algorithm update is, and what the search engine expects from your website.

“Self-evaluation” test on the SEO quality of your website

The document published in August raises a series of recommendations in the form of questions that you can answer yourself.

It would be ideal for you to compare yourself with your competition.

Questions about the quality of what you publish on your website

  1. Do you offer original content (information), or are you rewriting or even copying – what others have told without providing additional value?
  2. Are you publishing complete and exhaustive information on the matter you address in your post (on health)?
  3. Do you develop the subject in-depth, or do you stay on the surface? Do you do better than other pages that deal with similar issues?
  4. Do you publish exciting content (of interest) for your readers?
  5. Does your post and articles’ title respond to what you develop later in the content, or are you trying to provoke an easy click with it? Google does not like the practice of clickbait.
  6. Are you sure what you post? Is it so good that you could recommend it to your friends?
  7. Is your publication so good that it could appear published or cited in a magazine, a book …?
  8. Do you have “demonstrable” experience on the subject you are talking about?
  9. The above questions have a lot to do with EAT signals and their importance on your website pages.
  10. Does your website inspire confidence?
  11. Do you convey with her the feeling of having experience and knowledge on the subject of trafficking?
  12. Is it easy to identify yourself as an “author with recognized authority” on the issues you address?
  13. Questions about the formal quality of your website
  14. Do you take care of the edition of your post?
  15. Do you check for mistakes in spelling, expression, and style?
  16. Do you publish a large number of advertising ads on your website?
  17. Do your posts look good on mobile devices? Does your website adapt well to mobile?

In summary, compared to your competitors (other websites that try, like you, to answer the questions of Google users). Does what you publish provide real value to the people who use the search engine? Is your content aimed at responding to the Google user or exclusively seeking to improve your positioning in the SERPs?

The Importance of Quality Raters

Once again, Google once also mentions its Guidelines Guide for Search Quality Assessors. I have already told you about them. They are people hired by Google to review the algorithms’ response.

They do simple searches and value them. With their reports, they help Google engineers to “fine-tune” the classification systems. They check if the algorithm works as expected or if it can be improved.

Although it is not a ranking factor, knowing its evaluation criteria will help you understand what the search engine likes. In particular, what refers to the EAT.

Jeannie Brouts

by Jeannie Brouts

Jeannie Brouts is a Marketing Manager at SEO Vendor. She has 10 years of experience in White Label SEO and online marketing. Jeannie loves writing about the latest ways to help businesses market and produce results.