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December 2020 Google Core Update

What We Know So Far

On December 3rd, Google rolled out their third Core Update for the year. It’s early days so the full extent of the impact remains to be seen.

First Insights:

  • The rollout is not complete – the true impact will be seen over the next 1 to 2 weeks.
  • We can see some clear shifts in rankings in typical areas related to E-A-T and content – music, health, news, and ecommerce – but unlike the other updates, there is no clear pattern yet.
  • Several music-related websites have seen major drops and increases.
  • Several medical and health websites have seen major drops.
  • So far, the rollout is primarily in the US. Countries outside of the US have been less impacted so far – we are monitoring large websites and can’t confirm the same impact as in the US.

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Early Analysis

The data comes from our Research Cloud which offers insights into the visibility of every domain for Desktop and Mobile search engine rankings.

Early Look at Major Drops

A quick glance below and we immediately see that music-related websites are seeing major drops.

We can also see several medical and health websites with major drops. It’s too early to say this is a steady trend. However, the data does show us it might be the case that these two industries will be heavily affected by this Core Update.

December 2020 Google Core Update - early losers

Early Look at Major Wins

As seen in the losses, we can see that music-related websites are seeing movement.

Several financial websites have seen positive movement; however, it is still too early to say that this is a definitive trend.

December 2020 Google Core Update Analysis Searchmetrics - Early Winners 2

Job Listing Websites – Some Movement

We have seen several websites having either growth or decline. This could be an early sign that Job Listings websites are a focus of this update.

We can see linkedin.com and monster.com with significant growth and glassdoor.com and indeed.com with significant drops.

Job Listing Website Impact Google December 2020 Core Update

We will continue to analyze this sector to interpret this in more detail and share our findings here over the coming weeks.

Financial Websites – Some Impact Seen

Several financial websites have shown large growth since the update, as we can see below. Creditkarma.com and thebalance.com have seen large growth so far.

Financial Website Impact Google December 2020 Core Update

We will continue to analyze this sector to interpret this in more detail and share our findings here over the coming weeks.

Possible Impact to Stacked Listings

Stacked Listings happen when the same domain ranks multiple times for the same search term. There is speculation that websites previously resulting in Stacked Listings will see a reduction in rankings and traffic as a result of this Core Update.

One example we noticed within the Q&A space was Brainly:

Google Update December 2020: Possible Impact to Stacked Listings

Analysis: Notice the image on the left shows brainly.in in the top three results. But after December 3rd, in the image on the right, we can see brainly.in listed in Position One only and not present in listings further down the page.

This can have a serious impact on traffic for websites in this situation.  We will continue to monitor the impact over the coming weeks.

May 2020 versus December 2020 Core Update

Here we compare websites that had a decrease and increase in rankings in May 2020 to December 2020.

So far, we can see several have experienced a major impact since December 3rd with a few experiencing minor negative drops.

 

May 2020 versus December 2020 Core Update

 

Winners Googe May and December Core Update Comparison

We will continue to update these lists as the rollout continues.

Early Advice from our Experts

Marcus Tober“It’s clear that this Core Update is still rolling out – better clarity around winners and losers resulting from this update should be visible in the next 1 to 2 weeks.

However, we can already see some clear shifts in rankings in typical areas related to E-A-T and content – music, health, news, and ecommerce – but unlike the other updates, there is no clear pattern yet.

So far, data shows us there hasn’t been a major rollout of the Core Update in Germany and other countries outside of the US yet. We’ll continue to monitor the impact globally over the coming days and weeks.”
Marcus Tober, Searchmetrics Founder


Jordan Koene“This update is a rather surprising announcement – we are only days into the holiday shopping season and a few weeks from the traditional end of year black-out period during which many technology companies pause operations.

Considering Core Updates have a focus on content and quality it is no surprise this release took place after the US Election. During the Election, many experts suggested that Google favored higher authority websites and limited featured elements such as carousels and rich results. These elements are likely to have changed now that the election is over and the fear of misinformation impacting user judgement is limited.

Over the coming weeks we expect to see more volatility in rankings as Google evaluates the user benefits of these changes. Irrespective of the details of this update, due to the focus of Google on quality content in general, it is critical all marketers and web developers continue maintaining Google’s guidelines around duplicate content. This includes a full understanding of the Quality Rater Guidelines & E-A-T critical used to evaluate content.”

Jorden Koene, Searchmetrics Advisor


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