Make sure to review your analytics and data and take the necessary steps if your site was negatively impacted.
Google said “the December 2020 Core Update rollout is complete.”
The facts. What we know from Google, as we previously reported, is that the December 2020 core update started to roll out around 1:00pm ET on Thursday, Dec. 3. Like all core updates, this was a global update and was not specific to any region, language or category of web sites. It is a classic “broad core update” that Google releases every few months or so. In this case, it was the longest stretch since a confirmed broad core update, one that took just under seven-months, as opposed to the typical three-month time frame.
It was a big update. This update, according to many of the tool providers and the SEO community was a very big update. Many who were either negatively or positively impacted saw gains or declines of 10% to over 100% of their previous levels of organic search traffic.
Previous updates. The most recent previous core update was the May 2020 core update, that update was big and broad and took a couple of weeks to fully roll out. Before that was the January 2020 core update, we had some analysis on that update over here. The one prior to that was the September 2019 core update. That update felt weaker to many SEOs and webmasters, as many said it didn’t have as big of an impact as previous core updates. Google also released an update in November, but that one was specific to local rankings. You can read more about past Google updates over here.
Timing the update. There has been concern about the timing of this update, that it was released a couple of weeks prior to the holiday season. Google said it was done after the Thanksgiving season, after Black Friday and Cyber Monday but before the holidays. But for some, especially those that make a lot of their sales right before the holidays, this update can be devastating to their business. The roll out just finished several days away from Christmas and during the Chanukah holidays – tonight is the 7th night of Chanukah.
What to do if you are hit. Google has given advice on what to consider if you are negatively impacted by a core update in the past. There aren’t specific actions to take to recover, and in fact, a negative rankings impact may not signal anything is wrong with your pages. However, Google has offered a list of questions to consider if your site is hit by a core update. Google did say you can see a bit of a recovery between core updates but the biggest change you would see would be after another core update. Now that the update is done rolling out, you should know if your site was impacted or not and decide on the necessary course of action.
Why we care. It is often hard to isolate what you need to do to reverse any algorithmic hit your site may have seen. When it comes to Google core updates, it is even harder to do so. What this data and previous experience and advice have shown us is that these core updates are broad, wide and cover a lot of overall quality issues. Now that this update has been fully rolled out, it is time to dig into your analytics and data and decide on what next steps you need to take for the web sites you manage.
Barry Schwartz a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry’s personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here.