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Google December 2020 Core Update Insights

Google updates should come with no surprise already. The team continuously works on Google ranking algorithm and search structure to supposedly bring the best value to its users.

But what happens for us, Digital Marketers, is a lot of confusion, a decrease in traffic, and lost ranking.

Here is what MozCast has shown us:

So on December 3rd, the temperature went high, which infers turbulence in the search algorithm. 

To understand the significance of this update, it is comparable to that of May 2020.

But this one was not probably related to the ranking algorithm. I think Google tested and tried to improve search intent by randomizing it.  Let’s dive deep.

What Was the Change?

Winners and Losers

How to Improve?

Always Be on Top of SEO 

What was the change?

I think this change was all about randomizing search results and showing search engine’s results for multiple intents.

First, let’s review the most common search intents:

  • Informational Queries

Anything that gives readers solid information about a certain topic is considered an informational query. For example, if you search for a brand name before the update, you will most likely end up resulting in the brand.

  • Navigational Queries

In this case, the visitor knows what they want and need to visit a certain place. For example, if you search for Twitter, Google assumes that you want to visit twitter.com.

  • Commercial Investigation 

This includes comparing two different brands. Let’s imagine you want to buy a laptop but are not sure about the model. You go ahead and search MacBook vs. IdeaPad, and the results are comparisons of these products.

  • Transactional Queries

Here the user is sure what they want to buy, so they already search for the exact product to finalize the purchase. For example, buy MacBook Air 2020.

Now the search result is not consistent. For example, if you search for “cup,” Google will not consider it an informational query. So you will get results about cups in general, websites that sell cups, and CTA-filled results that trigger a decision to buy. 

Additionally, we know that Core Web Vitals will be in effect somewhere around May 2021, which means that this update might have been connected to CWV. So, it is worth revisiting CWV or researching if you are new to it. In any case, our post about CWW and how to improve will be helpful.

Winners and Losers

In our portfolio companies, we saw lots of ups and downs in early December. Our eCommerce store faced major drops, whereas publishing sites saw an increase in ranking and traffic.

Looking at the industry, we see an interesting picture. This data from MozCast shows 7-day and 1-day averages for different sites:

As we can see, the most increase was for Verywell Health. The topic of their publications is health. We also have several other blogs and publishers on the list. 

From our experience, the publishers gained the most success because they produce long-form content and have a good backlink profile.

How to Improve?

What can you do to improve your rankings and be more resilient to Google updates? We shortlisted the top strategies that we specifically used with our portfolio companies after the drops due to the December Update.

Long-Form Articles

The days about sweet and short articles are way over. Google and people value long-form, at least 1000 words, articles. 

There is data proving that longer articles tend to rank better. That’s why we saw an increase for VeryWell Health, as their articles are thorough and lengthy.

Here are some results from Hubspot’s study about long articles. 

We definitely see a positive correlation between organic traffic and word count. The sweet spot is 2250 – 2500.

Moving forward, we have the comparison of backlinks and the article length. Here too, there is a strong positive correlation.

To sum up, clearly long-form content can bring more opportunities than short articles.

Backlinks

Backlinks are also important when it comes to ranking. Backlinks present a vote of confidence, and they are signals for Google that a site is doing good.

Backlinks are still the fundamental core of Google’s original PageRank algorithm. Although backlinks, in general, are important, you need to be cautious about getting links from every site. 

Always check the Domain Authority, Organic Traffic, and Spam Score before requesting links from other sites.

Are you struggling with link building? Read our guide and learn 200+ strategies to rank! 

E-A-T

E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. Google uses EAT to rate webpages, authors, and overall website. The higher the EAT is, the higher the chances of ranking are.

If you write valuable content and receive links from other relevant and quality websites, you are closer to fulfill the E-A-T. 

Also, make sure to remove all the errors from your site by:

Always Be on Top of SEO 

Google will always work on the algorithm and update how a search engine works. These can indeed bring a lot of confusion and frustration, but there are already proven strategies that can be helpful even with the most obscure update.

Let us know what you think about the December 2020 Core Update in the comments below.

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