iX POV: Google Core update

Daniel Jellyman

Senior SEO Analyst

The 3rd of December saw Google roll out its most recent algorithm update. Google tends to release new updates on a regular basis, with the latest being the third one in 2020.

As stated by Google: “Several times a year, we make significant, broad changes to our search algorithms and systems. We refer to these as ‘core updates’. They’re designed to ensure that overall, we’re delivering on our mission to present relevant and authoritative content to searchers”.

Core updates typically have a noticeable impact on sites. As clear fluctuations are often visible, the timing of the update has become a talking point for many. With roll out beginning during the run up to Christmas, e-commerce sites may be the most concerned of the timing of this update, however Google see no issue with this.

What have we seen so far?

Several data providers have stated high ranking volatility, with several reports that the impact has been felt more so than the previous core update in May 2020. Below are some of the industries which have been most impacted so far in terms of ranking changes:

Most volatile industries across both Desktop and Mobile:

  • Health

  • Real estate

  • Law and Government.

Most volatile industries on Desktop specifically:

  • Travel

  • Finance.

Most volatile industries on Mobile specifically:

  • Jobs and education

  • Pets and animals.

(SEMRUSH and Rank Ranger via Searchengineland)

In addition to the above, Searchmetrics state major ranking drops from music and medical websites, whereas ranking improvements are being seen for finance.

What does this mean for our site?

These results need to be taken with a pinch of salt, as not every website within an industry has seen the same effects. The differing results witnessed across these industries only emphasises the fact that it is too early to tell of any clear trend.

According to Searchmetrics, “We can see some clear shifts in rankings in typical areas related to E-A-T and content – music, health, news, and ecommerce – but unlike the other updates, there is no clear pattern yet”. For more information on E-A-T, please see a previous article written by our content team.

What should I do?

Google claim there is often nothing to fix on your site after these core updates. “We know those with sites that experience drops will be looking for a fix, and we want to ensure they don’t try to fix the wrong things. Moreover, there might not be anything to fix at all.”

We would recommend monitoring traffic to your site and ranking visibility until the update is fully complete. It may be too early to see its full impact now, as Google state it can take up to a couple of weeks to fully roll out.

However, sites preferring to make improvements focus on ensuring your site is providing the best content possible as this is what Google algorithms seek to reward. Focus areas include:

  • Run a full site audit to identify and fix any major and minor SEO issues

  • Create high-quality content that follows the best industry practices

  • Ensure a positive user experience by resolving any SEO issues

  • Use structured data to help search engines uncover the most relevant content per search query.

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