It's not uncommon for Google to roll out core updates several times in a year. On December 3rd, 2020, Google rolled out what it now calls the December 2020 Core Update. This update was 7 months after the May 2020 Core Update, which was also considered a significant rollout by Google. The update took several weeks to fully roll out. Most webmasters have reported that this latest update has been felt across multiple verticals. As companies in different industries continue to track their search results, they begin to notice the changes that the update has caused.
Later today, we are releasing a broad core algorithm update, as we do several times per year. It is called the December 2020 Core Update. Our guidance about such updates remains as we've covered before. Please see this blog post for more about that:https://t.co/e5ZQUAlt0G
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) December 3, 2020
Facts about the December 2020 Core Update
- It was rolled out on December 3rd, 2020, at around 1:00 pm ET.
- It was a global update hence not rolled out in specific regions or categories of websites.
- It was the third core update released by Google in the year; the last two were in May and January 2020.
Was the timing intentional?
Many people were concerned about the timing of this update. Even though Google's plan was to release the update immediately after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there were speculations about the update affecting businesses if released just before the Christmas holidays.
What's the impact of the December 2020 Core Update?
Based on the data reported by key sources such as SEMrush, SearchMetrics and Sistrix, the December 2020 Core Update affected site rankings significantly. Some reports have shown sudden increases in site traffic, whereas others have reported a decline.
However, there is an independent publisher who reported that the December 2020 Core Update did not have as much impact. According to the publisher, this latest update hasn't impacted bloggers and independent publishers as much as the previous broad core updates. According to an observation made by the publisher, websites that lacked personality and life in their content were the hardest hit. The core update appeared to target websites that lacked that personal touch and web pages that appeared to have content that is produced in mass somewhere.
After reviewing the different observations from webmasters and publishers, we concluded that the December 2020 Core Update had some winners and losers. There was a negative impact on some major websites that did not invest in relevant and authoritative content.
If your website was affected by this update, we will share some quick tips that you can implement to recover your traffic.
How the December 2020 Core Update Affected dNOVO Clients
When the core update was rolled out, we spent the better part of the following weeks assessing its impact on our clients' websites. We witnessed rigorous movements in the SERP results of many of our clients' law firm websites. Several of them saw impressive gains in traffic and search rankings. It was evident that many of the websites we worked on saw increases in organic traction after the December 2020 Core Update. We managed to get these admirable results by always adding more relevance and context to our clients' website content. We do thorough research on the useful information users are searching for online before updating our clients' web pages. We sometimes opt for holistic content that is based on topics with high search volumes. By looking at the overall performance of our clients' websites, it seems like this strategy worked well.
Extensive content strategy and regular publications on the website allowed our client (who is a personal injury lawyer in Halifax) to improve it's organic visibility by over 17% within 2 weeks since December 2nd, 2020.
On the screenshot below you can see how average position of family firm in Toronto has improved after Google rolled out December update. For this client we developed a strategy based on creating unique content related to divorce and family lawyer marketing.
Let's take a look at next client of dNOVO - personal injury lawyer practicing in Toronto. For the past year we were working on existing services pages adding more content in a form of FAQ and optimizing each service page for Featured Snipped. This work involved a lot of research and answering very specific questions that people may ask. After Google assessed the website in December 2020, client's positions have significantly improved - organic visibility increased by nearly 25%:
Ranking positions went up as well for most important keywords:
Our suggestion to you is to continue producing good quality content and work with a reputable SEO company to help you make the right decisions if your business was negatively affected by the rollout. These core algorithm updates are often intended to revise search results and ensure that websites that invested in high-quality content show up more on SERPs. If your site has been affected, the most common culprit is low quality or stale content.
It's time to update your old web pages
Whenever a Google update occurs, the algorithm may adjust how it assesses content on web pages. These changes often result in lower rankings and reduced traffic. If you notice a significant drop in traffic after a core update, one of the best starting points should be to start updating your web pages with fresh content. Start with your top-ranking web pages. If some of them are now experiencing lower rankings, you can add more content that is relevant and enhances your authority in the industry or subject matter.
Content updates are ideal for web pages such as the news section, where you post the latest updates on any given topic. Users are often looking for the most up-to-date information, and by making changes from time to time, you ensure your pages remain relevant. This is likely to result in increased traffic when the core update is rolled out.
Search engines love fresh content
If you haven't invested any resources in blogging on your website, this is the time to do it more consistently. Blogging helps to ensure that your web pages are always providing fresh content. Your blogs can cover different topics about your business. This helps to ensure the web pages are indexed by search engines more often and increases your chances of ranking high on SERPs.
Additionally, regular press release distribution can also help to make your pages more dynamic. You can get your content out there and reach a broader target audience with new press releases regularly. Just avoid press release websites that have been flagged by search engines for participating in spamming activities. A proper press release distribution strategy will ensure your content is posted on credible websites that boost your site rankings.
Improve your existing content
You don't have to start writing fresh new content to boost your site rankings. There's a lot that you can do to improve your existing website content. For instance, if you've covered a particular topic and the page is already ranking highly, perhaps it's time to provide a more comprehensive analysis on the subject by adding more content on that page.
Add different content formats on your web pages such as infographics, images and videos that provide users with better engagement. Keep in mind that users consume content in different ways, and by adding different formats, you make the content more relevant and easier to engage with. Whenever you add live videos or snippets of your social media posts on your content, search engines get the indication that human beings are managing your pages and your content is not mass-produced.
Review your backlinks and clean up
Whenever a core update is rolled out that impacts your website rankings negatively, it's always important to take the time to evaluate your link profile. Get the list of web pages that link back to you and those that you link back to. If you have any spammy portals, you need to remove them. Linking to shady content can negatively hinder your Google Page Rank.
Implement a content strategy in 2021
The December 2020 Core Update is a wake-up call to many website owners and marketers to continue focusing on relevance and quality when adding content to their web pages. If you got badly hit by this update, it's time to review your content marketing strategy. Incorporate SEO into your overall digital marketing plan in order to recover your lost traffic and rankings.