January 2020 Google Core Update


On January 13th, 2020, Google announced that its first core update of the year would be rolling out that day. It’s important to remember that as with any other core update, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with the pages that drop in rankings after week or update. They are just being reassessed against content that has been published since the last update or content that was overlooked previously.

Widely noticeable effects are to be expected, which may include gains or drops, so start paying attention to your rankings in the days and weeks following core updates is important. If you found that your rankings dropped, look at what is ranking ahead of your content and consider how you can create an even more comprehensive solution for searchers.

Compared to previous core updates, this one does seem fairly substantial based on some of the early signals and chatter. The core update we saw in September 2019 was slow to roll out and wasn’t very upsetting. The January 2020 core update, however, seems much larger than the September update according to what’s going on in the SEO community.

The core updates usually take a few days, it can take up to two weeks to fully complete so that’s why it’s important to keep an eye on your analytics and traffic in the days and weeks after Google makes an announcement about the core update.

Part of the core update included an update to the search engine results page layout which displays company favicon in the desktop search results.

How Big are the Changes?

It may be a few more weeks before we can truly determine the scope of all of the changes, but it is safe to assume that Google is adjusting its trust in entire domains based on machine learning for the score updates. The more credibility and trust a domain has from its industry, the bigger the potential change is when Google adjusts the value internally. We can see it well in the health and finance sectors which at the start of the core update processes have seen changes that are proportionately greater than others.

With the latest score update, Google has widened the circle of affected domains and the trend continues. In the daily visibility index data for mobile search results from Sistrix,  you can see the first reactions begin on the 15th to the 16th of January.

Who Won as a Result of This Core Update?

This update focused on domain-wide recalculation of Google trust, there are both winners and losers. Either all of the content ranks better than before or the domain drops a few positions. So far, the winners include the following domains:

● Goal.com
● Onhealth.com
● CarGurus.com
● VeryWellHealth.com
● Fandango.com

Though many expected the movements in the health sector because there are rumors that Google is planning something in this area, there is a wide range of sectors and content types.

Which Domains Lost?

With winners, also come losers. The top losers so far are:

● CarMagazine.co.uk
● BoxOfficeMojo
● Skysports.com
● ArnoldClark.com
● CarBuyer.co.uk

A lot of the focus in the past core updates seems to mostly impact the “Your Money, Your Life” domains, but what’s surprising about this round is the number of sites related to car buying. This may be related to the amount of finance-related information on the site, such as pricing, financing, and insurance. The computerized, data-based quality evaluation is behind the changes, and that could differ greatly from a human evaluation.

Domains that relate to YMYL topics have been re-evaluated by the algorithm, and are either gaining or losing visibility as a whole. Domains previously affected by core updates are more likely to be affected again in the future. The good news is, the absolute fluctuations seem to be declining with each update, as Google is becoming more certain of its assessment and doesn’t deviate much from the previous one.

We’ll have to wait and see what comes of the April 2020 Core Update. Though it hasn’t been announced because the focus is all on the January update, it’s reasonable to expect them on an almost quarterly basis – since we saw one in June 2019, September 2019, and November 2019 (though the November one wasn’t announced, but confirmed by Google.)

SEO virtuoso, CEO @Sachs Marketing Group. Focused on being of service to business owners - helping to better position them in the eyes of their audiences.

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