20th January 2021

What Google’s December 2020 update means for websites

Globally, Google is used to make five billion searches a day globally. That’s three million every minute, and 63 million searches every second across mobiles, desktops and tablets.

So when the search engine giant announces an update to its algorithm, it’s very important for SEOs, website owners and content producers alike, to find out more about the changes Google has made, as it can have an impact on your website’s performance, traffic and search engine ranking. As specialists in content marketing, it’s important for us to keep our eyes peeled for updates too. 

Key takeaways from the update:

  • A renewed focus on quality and information-rich content in ranking factors
  • Rewarding websites who are creating authoritative content and demonstrating expertise.

Google Content Algorithm Update

This latest core update is the third of 2020, following other similar changes made back in January and then in May. 

According to Google, these updates are implemented with one goal in mind: to present relevant and authoritative content to searchers. 

What Google’s latest update means

Core updates such as this may mean website managers see some impact on their analytics and the performance of their pages or content. 

Some sites may see drops in traffic, others may see gains. Of course, those who are negatively impacted will want to try and apply a suitable fix or solution, and Google is keen to explain the process and how it’s not seeking to target or punish specific sites or pages. Ultimately, the changes are driven by its team improving how Google’s algorithm assesses content to enhance how users utilise its service. 

The Google team says content managers should liken the update to how film lovers refresh their list of favourite films. 

‘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 realise they deserved a higher place on the list than they had before.’

This film list will change as there are some more deserving films to have come out since you first compiled your selection. And this is the case with this online update. Ultimately, this is a refresh of how Google evaluates and ranks quality online content. 

Google's Core Algorithm Update

Previous algorithm updates 

Three updates have taken place so far this year. May’s core update took several weeks to roll out while previously an update was also made in January. 

This latest change was announced by Google on 3rd December 2020, so it’s important to keep a close eye on your analytics to see how it will impact your website’s pages over the coming days and weeks.

Why the update is important

Every time Google undertakes an update, a website can start to perform better or worse in search results. 

Understanding when this update takes place will help you realise why your website’s analytics might start showing certain trends and changes. It should ensure content and website managers can work out whether this is due to an internal issue or a change like this from Google. If you see your pages dropping or going up Google’s search engine rankings when an update is announced, then this could well be why. 

The importance of quality content 

Any website pages which do see a drop in traffic have not necessarily been doing anything wrong or need to get anything fixed. However, at the same time, you may feel you need to do something. For Google, there’s one aim all website managers should look to satisfy: ‘We suggest focusing on ensuring you’re offering the best content you can. That’s what our algorithms seek to reward.’

When looking to evaluate the quality of your content, it’s worth asking yourself a series of questions around your pages, how information is presented and the value they offer. 

Some examples of these questions include: 

  • Does your content provide original information, reporting, research or analysis?
  • Does the headline and/or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Does the content present information in a way that makes you trust it with clear sourcing or evidence of expertise about the author? 
  • Is the content free from easily-verified factual errors?
  • Is the content free from spelling or stylistic issues?
  • Was the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?

You can also focus specifically on the pages which have been most impacted. Evaluate them closely in line with some of the questions to see if making any improvements with them might help. 

To help respond to a core update, your focus should be on producing quality content that’s well-researched and presented. If you ensure your website adheres to this general rule, then Google updates should not be feared. 

Contact us for more information and support 

Please get in touch with us for support with developing your content strategy in line with Google’s latest updates to their algorithm.

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