As December rolled in, many of us in the digital marketing and SEO community were starting to get ready for some Christmas cheer, listening to a few festive songs and preparing for our virtual office parties. However, on 3rd December, Google gave us an early Christmas present in the form of a new Core Algorithm Update.
This core algorithm update is the first one since May which was released as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It has now been two weeks since the release of the December broad core algorithm update, so we’re now in a position to have a look at how it has impacted websites and search as a whole.
Impact of the Update
Signs suggest that this Google core update has had a substantial impact on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), as we can see from the latest data from the SEMRush Sensor:
The volatility score of an 8.4 is comparable with the May 2020 update and is much higher than the January 2020 update.
Volatility is measured by how many rankings have been changed across SERP as a whole. While rankings can be massively affected during this time, a lot of websites can recover shortly after once the SERP is stable again.
Winners and Losers of the Update
Searchmetrics has gathered a comprehensive look at the big winners and losers after the broad core update. It’s from here we can see a pattern of the type of websites that have been targeted this time around.
As we can see from the top winners above, several financial sites appeared to benefit from the update. Music and lyrics related sites – usually featuring user generated content – have also seen increases in visibility.
SEMRush summed up the industries it found to have made huge gains below:
We can see a pattern emerging in the losers as, just like the winners, music and lyrics based sites have been targeted. Shopping sites also feature prominently here, just in time for the Christmas holiday shopping season.
Again this is reflected in SEMRush’s industry findings:
It appears the algorithm has targeted those sites selling questionable products, online communities featuring incorrect information and news sites displaying misleading stories for users. With E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness) and Your Money Your Life factors now well established, it’s no surprise to see this happening.
Our Own Findings
Comparing what we’re seeing globally to our own data, we can see some correlation with the overall picture.
This UK jewellery retailer was seeing a steady growth in recent months, but saw a sharp increase in organic traffic after the release of the Core Algorithm Update.
This UK IT solutions provider is starting to see an increase in organic traffic after the update, following the trend that internet and telecom websites are seeing increases.
This website specialising in trichology has already seen steep growth in 2020 which is set to continue after the update. Putting your site in a good position ahead of an update can lead to rewards from Google when they decide to update the algorithm.
What Should You Do If You’ve Been Impacted by the Update?
As always with these updates, Google’s advice is to do nothing drastic. However, the company always stresses that as long as you’re following the guidelines – have a user friendly site with good content and no Black Hat SEO tactics – then you will be fine. Any SEO issues should be identified and fixed across your website to ensure a smooth experience for all users.
However, websites can be impacted even when following the guidelines, especially if you’re in an industry that has been targeted.
E-A-T remains an important fixture in algorithm updates as Google seeks to reward those sites that show expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. It’s important to check that content on your pages offers value to users, can be trusted and is not created to mislead anyone.
If your website has been impacted negatively by the December 2020 Core Algorithm Update, you should seek the expertise of an SEO team. Ricemedia are experienced with helping websites recover from core updates and sufficiently preparing them for the next one. Get in touch today to start your recovery from the December 2020 core update.