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Google January 2020 Core Update

14 January 2020 | 0 comments | Posted by Che Kohler in nichemarket Advice

Core update Jan 2020 Google Search

Google has started 2020 with a bang and announced via its @SearchLiaison Twitter handle Monday morning that it is rolling out a new core update this month which is the first core update for 2020. Google generally now rolls out these algorithmic updates every few months or so with the last one coming in September of 2019, and we also had a recent major core update in June of 2019.

As with core updates in the past, it leaves the internet or rather the search marketing part of the internet in a frenzy as rankings and traffic could all be affected.

The announcement

traditionally doesn't give too much forewarning regarding core updates and will announce right before deploying with SEOS around the wold holding thumbs that they won't have seen their hard work obliterated within the space of a day.

In the announcement, Google stated that

"Later today, we are releasing a broad core algorithm update, as we do several times per year. It is called the January 2020 Core Update. Our guidance about such updates remains as we've covered before."

An hour after this announcement, at midnight ET, Google announced this is now live and rolling out to all data centres. Google wrote,

"The January 2020 Core Update is now live and will be rolling out to our various data centres over the coming days."

What is this core update going to change?

As a broad core update suggests, the January 2020 core update several ranking factors and ranking weights in a bid to improve the returning, reviewing, reindexing and re-ranking of results.

The core update once rolled out will impact all search results on a worldwide scale with no single factor being a make or break on results.

Since it's not an update that targets something specific that webmasters can improve upon, like the "Speed Update." Website owners will need to do a manual review of pages that have lost traffic/rankings and review pages now outranking them for clues as to how to improve their offering.

Google has left a cryptic answer on how to evaluate your content in its latest blog post.

"One way to think of how a core update operates is to imagine you made a list of the top 100 movies in 2015. A few years later in 2019, you refresh the list. It's going to change naturally. Some new and wonderful movies that never existed before will now be candidates for inclusion. You might also reassess some films and realise they deserved a higher place on the list than they had before."

The update speaks to real relevance of content and trying to weed out corrupt practices in the content marketing space while encouraging the creation of high-value content.

There have been reports of many sites taking old content and revamping it to a 2020 version with the same content to try and maintain rankings and steal traffic away from the search behaviour changes. Instead of creating valuable content as new information becomes available or creating new comparative content that gives consumers more oversight.

What to do if the core update negatively impacts you

Google has advised on what to consider if a core update negatively impacts you in the past. There aren't specific actions to take to recover, and in fact, a negative rankings impact may not signal anything is wrong with your pages. However, Google has offered a list of questions to consider if you're site is hit by a core update.


Questions for evaluating your content

  • Does the content provide original information, reporting, research or analysis?
  • Does the content provide a substantial, complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • If the content draws on other sources, does it avoid simply copying or rewriting those sources and instead provide substantial additional value and originality?
  • Does the headline and/or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?
  • Does the headline and/or page title avoid being exaggerating or shocking in nature?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?

Expertise questions

  • Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page?
  • If you researched the site producing the content, would you come away with an impression that it is well-trusted or widely-recognized as an authority on its topic?
  • Is this content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?
  • Is the content free from easily-verified factual errors?
  • Would you feel comfortable trusting this content for issues relating to your money or your life?

Presentation and production questions

  • Is the content free from spelling or stylistic issues?
  • Was the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Does the content have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  • Does content display well for mobile devices when viewed on them?

Comparative questions

  • Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • Does the content seem to be serving the genuine interests of visitors to the site or does it seem to exist solely by someone attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?

There's nothing necessarily wrong with pages that drop in rankings following a core update, and you could be moved back to your old position with time as the algorithm works through the available options and user reactions. Remember each core update addresses content as it serves various queries and reassessed against content that has been published since the last update, or content that was previously overlooked.

It would be best if you also prepared not only for one-page drops, but widely noticeable effects are to be expected, which may include drops or gains in search rankings, so paying attention to your rankings in the days and weeks to come is paramount.

If your rankings drop then its time to look at where you lost ground and review why that piece deserves a top 1, 2 or 3 spot. Then consider how you can provide an even more comprehensive solution for searchers.

Be productive when core updates happen

There are many cases of brands living on the traffic from anchor content which was created ages ago and brought them tons of traffic without having to try and improve their work or add additional work to their site. These rigid ranking changes marginalise new and improved content creators, and Google is looking to provide a wider variety of options for searchers, so they can find the best possible content to serve over time.

Whenever Google updates its search ranking algorithms, it means that there will be winners and losers as traffic allocation is a zero-sum game. Knowing when Google makes these updates give us something to the point of reference and a way to start debunking changes and reworking your content to maintain or improve your rankings.

Tell us your SEO story

Have you been frustrated with SEO for your business? How did you or the company overcome it? Were you hit by the latest update? Are there any tips you would like to share on improving your reports? Share it with us in the comments.

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Recommended reading

If you enjoyed this post and have a little extra time to dive deeper down the rabbit hole, why not check out the following posts on SEO and search updates.

Tags: Google , SEO

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