It’s another new year, so it’s time for more Google algorithm updates. On January 13th, Google announced their January 2020 Al.
On the surface, you may not think this January 2020 algorithm update is all that much of a big deal. Even Google stressed that it was simply the first Google update of 2020. So, no cause for alarm, right?
Well, the Google January algorithm update is a core update, so it has the potential to have a noticeable impact on search results. But before we get to the final thoughts about this latest Google update, here’s what you need to know about it.
When Will the January 2020 Algorithm Update Roll Out?
This Google January algorithm update doesn’t target anything specific, like page speed or backlinks. Google likens the update to making slight adjustments to a ranking of the best movies for a previous year a few years later. In search engine terms, this means some sites will rise and others will fall in terms of how they are presented on search engine results pages.
According to Google, this doesn’t necessarily mean a site that now ranks lower is “bad” or not as good as ones that rank above it. They claim it just means other sites have been deemed to be “better” based on the new standards Google is now using to determine what makes a site worthy of its ranking.
As for when the rollout of the first Google update of 2020 will take place, Google tweeted that it went live at noon on January 13th. The Google team said it would be rolled out to various data centres “in the coming days” after making the initial announcement. So, it’s best to be proactive and check your ranking stats ASAP to see if this core change is affecting you.
The update is indeed fully rolled out now and you should monitor your SERPs if you haven’t already. We’ve noticed a couple of sites have had some severe drops so far while others have somehow managed to leapfrog ahead of stronger websites. There have been many instances of website’s ranking in the top positions where they have no business being there. We expect these anomolies to settle back down over the next week or so.
What Was the Impact of Previous Core Updates?
The last core update Google issued was in September, 2019. Many SEOs and webmasters claim that update was “weaker” in terms of its impact on rankings and online visibility.
Google did release another update in November 2019. However, that one was specific to local rankings and wasn’t really a core update. Google also announced a core update in June of 2019.
The impact of previous updates varies. There are reports some sites saw a noticeable spike in rankings from the September update but suffered a big drop from the June update, which balanced things out.
Google does appear to be getting more critical of health and medical websites. This began in August of 2018 with what was termed the Medic Update. Each subsequent update has reportedly resulted in some major shakeups with medical/health websites.
In one instance, a large-scale review site took a big hit from Google’s 2019 core updates. The issue turned out to be the sudden indexing of thousands of lower-quality pages. In this case, it was canonical problems that contributed to the ranking drop. The problem has since been resolved and the affected site saw significant improvements after Google’s September 2019 update.
What Can You Do If Google’s January Algorithm Update Affects You?
It’s too early to tell how the January 2020 algorithm update will ultimately impact rankings and what specific content will be affected most. But if you do end up being affected by this Google January algorithm update, don’t panic.
You don’t want to act abruptly and take actions that could make the situation worse. In fact, a negative impact from a core update may not have anything specifically to do with your website. In some instances, rankings will naturally adjust automatically over time and you’ll be fine.
However, if you are concerned about a drop in traffic and other things that could affect your revenue and online visibility, there are steps you can take. Options include:
- Reaching out to an SEO expert for advice
- Auditing your data to see what’s going on with your site
- Quickly putting a plan in place to deal with the negative impact of a core update
Google suggests you also go over this list of questions to ask yourself if an update affects you. Your answers to these questions can be used to determine if you need to make any adjustments on your end of things.
Why Should You Care About The First Google Update of 2020?
Not surprisingly, the reaction has been mixed to the announcement of the first Google update of 2020. Some people who depend on online visibility are understandably skeptical of Google’s attempt to downplay the potential impact of this update.
— Nicolas Ockier (@nicockier) January 13, 2020
Granted, some businesses will benefit and enjoy better rankings, but others will take a hit. Even so, this happens with every major update. In some instances, however, the full impact of a core algorithm update can be so negative it contributes to the end of an online-based business.
This is what happened with CCN when Google made a similar update in June of 2019. CCN.com announced specifically blamed their shutdown on Google.
The company, described as a “leading crypto publication,” saw a 90 percent drop in their revenue within just two days of the June 2019 Core Update, according to CCN.com’s founder Jonas Borchgrevink. The company claims many other crypto sites took a big hit as well because of the same Google update.
CCN looked at non-crypto news sites for comparison sake. They discovered that some news sites, like DailyMail, did also suffer a major ranking drop. However, other similar news-based websites saw improvements and beneficial gains.
Ultimately, you should care about Google updates like this because of the unpredictability when it comes to the potential fallout. The last thing you want is to be negatively affected by a core update and be the last to know!
Borchgrevink is demanding that Google provide at least three months notice before rolling up core updates like the one that contributed to the shutdown of CCN.com. He also wants Google to notify website owners if their traffic will likely be negatively affected by 20 percent or more.
While these demands are certainly reasonable, it’s not clear if Google will respond or implement such protocols. For this reason, it’s best to be as proactive as possible with Google updates. Whenever an announcement is made, be especially mindful of your site’s key stats so you can take appropriate actions sooner rather than later.