Google December Core Update

Google Rolls Out December 2020 Core Update

Google has taken the decision to roll out the December 2020 core update. But what does this mean?


What is a Core Update?


This is the third Core Update of the year after the January 2020 Core Update and the May 2020 Core Update. A core update applies tweaks or changes to Google’s algorithm, meaning the SEO industry must adapt fast to either utilise new tools that benefit their web traffic or, if negatively affected, minimise the damage done by the change in algorithm.


Why is the December 2020 Core Update Noteworthy?


Most of the more recent previous Core Updates have been minor in terms of impact except the May 2020 Core Update which two a fortnight to roll out and left webmasters having to overcome new obstacles. However, early reports suggest this new December 2020 is even more sizable than its predecessor. Fluctuations in top 20 search results were nearly double compared to the same time period after the May 2020 Core Update.


Does this affect me?


Google withheld the update for Thanksgiving and black Friday to both pass unafflicted and allow businesses to continue their ecommerce trade in an unprecedented year for online sales. However, many still have concerns with the timing of the update due to their reliance on online holiday sales. Small businesses could be devastated in the months before Christmas if they do not get the traffic they were receiving before the update at such a crucial time in their financial calendar.


Desktop search changes were most noticeably affected in the health, real estate, travel, finance, law and government. Within mobile searches there was significant difference within the health, law and government, jobs and education, pets & animals, and real estate sectors.


Despite some users claiming to have lost over 40% of their Google organic traffic from the update, others are benefiting from it. Therefore, it may not be anything to worry about for your business. In fact, in many cases, it may be beneficial.


I’ve Noticed a Negative Impact, What Can I Do?


So, you have noticed a negative impact on your site since the update and you’re wondering what you can do to get back on your feet as quickly as possible? This update seems to have benefited content-heavy sites, with Google indicating users to “focusing on ensuring you’re offering the best content you can” as that’s what their “algorithms seek to reward”.


Another action you can take is to keep your website updated as a whole. Google gave a great example of why the standard of your content is key:

“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 naturally change. Some new and wonderful movies that never existed before will now be candidates for inclusion. You might also reassess some films and realize they deserved a higher place on the list than they had before. The list will change, and films previously higher on the list that move down aren’t bad. There are simply more deserving films that are coming before them,” Google wrote.


Google has suggested that you may see a slight recovery over time but no major change until a further core update later. They have however, issued a helpful post on what to do if you were hit which can be seen here:

May Core 2020 Google Update – What Webmasters need to know?


Google announced that it rolled out there a new core update yesterday (May 4th). The first core update we saw this year was in January 2020.


Their announcement below ‘Google said “Later today, we are releasing a broad core algorithm update, as we do several times per year. It is called the May 2020 Core Update. Our guidance about such updates remains as we’ve covered before.”

Key points from this update;

  • Google said it will take around one to two weeks to fully roll out.

As a webmaster make sure you keep an eye on your traffic over the next 2 weeks to see if you have been affected. If you track your keyword positions, keep an eye on this.

  • What do previous updates tell us?

If previous updates are anything to go by, then this could either make significant changes to a lot of results or it will not do a lot. The January update seemed to make significant changes, searchengineland provided some great insight to this, whereas the general feel from the September 2019 core update was that not a lot changed.

  • What to do if you are penalised

Don’t panic, a negative impact by a core update doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing anything wrong. Google gives a brief indication into what you should be looking at but essentially the core update seems to almost a ‘business as usual’ update to ensure Google results are as relevant to the user as possible. Here are the questions they provide.


Content and quality questions

  • 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 the 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?


These questions are pretty straight forward and there are probably changes we can all make to our site to adhere to these guidelines as much as possible, in some cases, it won’t be possible to hit all sections perfectly. Essentially make sure your content is of the highest quality and is providing value to the user.


If you’re struggling to make the necessary changes to increase your organic traffic, get in touch today, I’m happy to provide an initial Free SEO audit to those looking to discuss how I can increase there traffic long term. I am also offering free Seo consultancy advice to any business in Essex who is struggling during the current pandemic.




Why you should work with a freelance SEO consultant rather than an agency or hiring in-house


I worked firstly in an agency environment, as an in-house SEO manager and now as a freelance SEO consultant. They all have the pros and cons depending on your business needs, but having worked in all three areas for several years, I?ve written a list of reasons why I think working with an SEO consultant is the best way forward for the majority of businesses.

And OK, yes, maybe I?m slightly biased?

1. Affordability


For a business owner, every cost has to be analyzed. All business owners need to get the maximum value from any spend, and this includes SEO. Typically, working with a large SEO agency, you will most likely be spending anything from £5,000 to £15,000 a month. Agencies have a lot more overheads than SEO consultants, which tends to lead to an increase in price. From an in-house perspective, you have to factor in the cost of tools, which makes this an expensive option. SEO consultants will already have their tools ready to go.


2. Flexibility


When you work with an agency, most of the time, you?ll be a number on the list of clients your account manager is working on. One of the main reasons I left agency-side to work in-house was so that I could spend the time needed on a website to maximise SEO results. Freelance SEO consultants tend to have four to five clients that they work on, which gives a lot more value to those who work with them. Not only this, but 99% of agencies will tie you into a contract for a certain period, whereas most consultants will have a monthly rolling contract that is easier to cancel if your business doesn?t have the budget. When being a freelancer is your only income, you work longer hours to ensure the job gets done.


3. Business depends on the success of a campaign


As a freelance SEO consultant myself, I know that my business depends on the success of my clients. A lot of my leads come from referrals where I?ve achieved great results. A freelance SEO consultant?s reviews will also be scrutinised by potential clients, so it?s vital that for every campaign they take on, they?re confident they can get the results. Agencies will take on as many customers as they can, whereas consultants only have a certain amount of time in the day in which they can provide work for their clients. They will therefore only take on clients that they believe they can achieve results for.


4. Time


The most important reason to work with a consultant is time. To maximise results from SEO, those who work on a given campaign need to fully understand the business operation, what makes the business tick and what type of leads are the most important to the business. I am a consultant who works on-site for all of my clients. Wherever it?s one day a week or two, this is vital to ensuring the best results are achieved. It?s important to spend the time and make sure you know what products or services you need to push if you are to achieve the highest return on investment (ROI).


If you?re looking to generate more leads from organic search this year, please contact me today to discuss how we can work together to accomplish this.