As of the beginning of this year, Google released a broad core update that shook up organic listings across many industries. Once stable, they suddenly became volatile for up to four positions and were pushed to the end of page one, if not onto page two. The implications of this for SEO are huge, as accounts will need to be reanalyzed and adjusted. After a couple of weeks of the update stabilizing a few facts emerged that we can take away from this huge change.
What Impact Did the January 2020 Update Have?
The Google January 2020 update started to roll out on the 13th and finished around the 16th. This update hit health and financial websites hard. In the digital marketing industry, these are called “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) websites. Google targets these types of sites with many of their recent updates.
Overall, this algorithm update evaluated the expertise, authority, and trust factors (EAT) that Google values so highly. After updates, Google often says that “losing” sites cannot do anything to recover quickly. Overall, content creators should focus on the quality rater guidelines mentioned above.
Why is Google so concerned with these factors? And why is the update harsh on specific industries? When users look for important information on the search engine’s platform, it is vital that websites have all of these traits. Not only does it ensure a good user experience, but users could be harmed if they read inaccurate information. Considering that the risk of this happening is higher in the medical, finance, and travel industries, it is no surprise that these were impacted the hardest.
At WTM Digital, our clients in the health industry have actually improved by an average of 5.8% last month. In fact, we had only one client affected by the core update on the 14th.
Ironically, they aren’t in any of the aforementioned industries but instead belong to the durable goods vertical. Before the update, they were almost always in the top three positions organically for their most important keyword. After the update, they dropped to number five consistently. So what happened?
Of course, it’s impossible to say for sure. However, our SEO team has noticed that eCommerce sites are doing better than lead generation sites. Interestingly enough, the client’s blog balanced the effect by bringing in increased traffic following the update.
Changes to Featured Snippets Following the Update
On the 23rd, Google implemented one other change that removed results from the first page if they were already included in a featured snippet. This helped declutter the first page and give searchers more result options. Besides this, volatility has been relatively normal across most of the Internet.
What Should I Do After the January 2020 Google Core Update?
As mentioned previously, following the EAT principles that Google lays out can generally improve websites’ SEO. While this is generally good practice and keeps a site healthy, it also could help with bouncing back from the core update. Some good tips on how to improve a site’s EAT Rating can be found here.
Another good practice is to keep an eye out for Google Core changes and keep track of when they hit. Google has a Twitter account where they regularly post updates. There are also tools like SEMrush’s Sensor that keep track of when volatility is high. This usually indicates that Google updated its platform.
If a site is consistently losing traffic and/or conversions because of ranking changes from the update, a temporary solution could be to invest (or invest more) in Google Ads, Google’s paid search platform. Since ads appear before the organic search results even begin, it would help a website who organically dropped to page two or lower.
If your website got hit hard by this Google update or past updates, it may be beneficial to seek out professional SEO services. A digital marketing agency can help you improve your website’s positive ranking factors. You could also consider paid search ads to regain some of that lost space on the search engine results pages.