Google has now confirmed it has completed rolling out its Google core update which began on 3 December 2020.
Unlike the incremental updates that take place on a daily basis, core update makes broad changes to ensure that users are finding relevant and authoritative content. These changes can often address expertise, authoritative and trustworthiness (E-A-T) issues of website content. The update according to many tools was also a big update.
As expected, Google has released scant information on the December update. Within a week, we began to learn the new algorithm’s effect on websites and industries.
Many industries have been heavily impacted by the December update. The greatest effects were felt in industries with a high E-A-T factor, such as:
- Real estate
volatility tracking tool showed a 9.4 score on 4 December 2020, compared with a score of 8 after the January 2020 update.
Although some industries were not affected much at all, the overall volatility was high.
As with all Google algorithm changes, there have been winners and losers. Many of the affected websites are from industries that have shown high volatility since the rollout. According to Search Engine Land, data companies report that some websites experienced increased traffic, including:
Other websites are experiencing a decline in traffic and lower SERP placement. Websites that have taken a hit include:
What to Do
Although Google has been less than forthcoming with details about the update, the company does offer tips on reassessing content on your website. Google notes that a decrease in traffic does not necessarily mean that there is anything wrong with the website. You can, however, take steps to ensure your content meets quality standards that the algorithms tend to reward.
Content Quality and Presentation
Google searches tend to favour content that contains original, in-depth information and analysis. Since news, health, sports and other content-heavy categories have shown high volatility since the December update, content quality appears to weigh heavily. Factors to consider include:
- Absence of spelling and grammatical errors
- Logically organised presentation
- Comprehensive coverage of subject matter
- Descriptive headlines
- Absence of excessive or intrusive ads
- Emphasis on benefiting the reader rather than keyword stuffing
- Expertise with reliable sources cited
- Mobile optimisation
With the “mobile-first” trend, it is no surprise that Google recommends checking your website for mobile optimisation. A clean presentation without awkward use of keywords results in a pleasant user experience. Out of all of the above-mentioned factors, however, expertise and authority may be the most important.
The E-A-T Factor
The websites that have fared well since the December 2020 update demonstrate the importance of expertise. So-called “thin” content that contains poorly written fluff will be left behind in search results.
Google continues to reward pages with high expertise, authoritative and trustworthiness factors, known as E-A-T.
E-A-T is an especially important factor for websites that cover topics related to “your money or your life (YMYL).” If your website covers financial, medical, wellness or other YMYL, the content should reflect a deep understanding of the subject matter. The authors should have demonstrable experience, knowledge or credentials in the content subject matter. Readers should feel confident that your content contains reliable information from authoritative sources.
A Waiting Game
Since the last core update in May 2020, organisations have been aligning their content with Google’s algorithm. It’s another waiting game as data emerges from the December update. Meanwhile, developers will continue to update and improve their websites in an effort to keep up with the changes.
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