Google confirmed the rollout of their latest core algorithm update, the December 2020 Update, on December 3, 2020. This update is just one of the three major algorithm updates Google has implemented during 2020.
Google claims to make multiple adjustments and changes to their search algorithm systems throughout the year. For reference, Google’s last change to their algorithm was rolled out on May 4, 2020.
Like all of Google’s previous core algorithm updates, what changed is unclear. However, it’s anticipated to have a significant impact on websites and their rankings within search results.
What is a Core Algorithm Update?
Before we dive into how websites are expected to be impacted by Google’s recent update, let’s first talk about what a core algorithm update is.
According to Google’s Search Central Blog, core updates are major changes made to their search engine algorithms to ensure it is presenting the most useful and credible information to their users as possible.
They make broad updates frequently to keep up with newly created pages and changes made to existing pages. In turn, these updates often result in both positive and negative rank changes for websites.
The main intention of Google’s broad core update is to create noticeable changes to their algorithm that will improve the way it assesses content. The goal of this is to provide the most helpful, recent, and accurate search results.
What Can You Expect to Happen to Your Website?
If you haven’t noticed any changes to your website’s search engine ranking yet, it could be because Google’s rollout process for core updates can take several weeks before showing noticeable changes.
It’s anticipated that almost all websites are impacted by Google’s algorithm changes. It’s just a matter of how big or how little. Since Google’s core updates are generally based on the relevance of pages and content, websites will experience small drops or massive gains in rankings. Rank changes depend on Google’s assessment from the previous core update.
Google will reassess your rank based on SEO improvements you have made to your pages or content since the last update, which could increase your ranking. Likewise, if you have not been working on your website’s SEO efforts, you may experience some negative effects as a result of December’s core update rollout.
If your content has become more relevant since Google’s last core update in May, it will likely move up in rank. Reversely, less relevant content will move down in rank.
Any new content that did not exist during Google’s last update in May will be reassessed against existing content during Google’s December core update.
What Can You Do if Your Website is Negatively Affected by Google’s December 2020 Update?
Before you start panicking about your website’s ranking, here are some things you can do to help offset a decreased ranking.
If your website does in fact experience a drop in ranking as a result of Google’s December 2020 update, you’ll want to start focusing on the quality of your content.
Begin by thinking about what your audience searches for and pair it with what you know about how search engines work and the key indicators they look for. If your audience believes the content is relevant to its query, chances are a search engine will, too!
Next, consider updating or repurposing existing content. When you are creating or updating content, ask yourself if it’s original information, or is it copying another source? Does it clearly describe the topic? Does it completely answer a question? Does the title or headline fully and accurately summarize what the content is about? Is it interesting enough? Would you share it? Does it seem credible enough to be referenced by other sources?
It’s important to remember that if you make SEO improvements to your content to counteract a drop in ranking from a previous core update, your website might not recover until the rollout of the next update.
There is also the possibility that if you do experience a drop in ranking, you will see your website recover before the next broad core update. One of the many smaller core updates that Google frequently releases may boost your ranking if your recent content improvements suffice.
Regardless of if Google’s latest December 2020 Update affects your site ranking positively or negatively, remember that Google is just trying to help users get the most out of their search engine. Continue producing relevant content and making efforts to improve your SEO in 2021 and beyond.