Google Core Update for January 2020

Following their stated policy of increased transparency, Google announced on Monday, January 13, 2020, that they had begun to roll out the first core update of the year. They claimed that the update had mostly finished rolling out by the end of the week, but that sites might still see the impact of the update for a week or two following this initial period.

Marketers and SEOs across a wide range of industries have noticed dramatic changes in response to this core update. When updates make this much of an impact on traffic rates, marketers want to make sure they’re paying attention. We wanted to explore what this update means with our community and what we recommend marketers focus on moving forward.

What do we know about the January 2020 Google core update?

Although information about this update continues to roll in, what we know thus far is this:

january 2020 google core update with brightedge

This core update was a global one, which meant that it was not limited to a few countries or languages. Instead, it will impact searches in every search region and language.

Google has also purposefully named this update a core update. Google has told us in the past that the core updates focus on adjusting how the algorithm understands and assesses the content overall. These updates do not necessarily target sites for doing something wrong. For example, in the past we saw updates like Panda, which specifically went after sites who displayed low-quality content.

These current core updates, Google explains, do not necessarily target sites that have made mistakes. Instead, they work to try and refresh the search engine giant’s understanding of the best possible content.

Therefore, anyone who has noticed a drop in their rankings or traffic following this update should note that Google is not necessarily saying that their sites have particular errors on them that need to be corrected. Instead, they should focus on finding ways to raise the originality, quality, and usefulness of their content even higher so that they can remain aligned with Google’s objectives.

What should brands focus on when following the January 2020 Google core update?

Anyone who has seen their rankings fall following this core update will want a specific path forward that they can use to help them improve their rankings. Since this update did not target particular mistakes, however, we recommend that organizations instead focus on the overall quality and usefulness of their site.

Specifically, Google recommends that users pay attention to E.A.T, or expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. The content that continues to align with these objectives will be the content that then sees the best rankings.

To make sure that their content aligns with these goals, site owners should ask themselves the questions below.

  • How does my site help to demonstrate expertise for people at my organization?
  • Does my content contribute something original to the field, such as new research or insights?
  • Does this content offer something interesting and authoritative that will engage readers? 
  • Does my content serve the actual interests of my users versus their perceived interests? Do I know this based on studying the engagement rates, research, and data surrounding the content on my site, keyword volume, and search trends?
  • Is the content well-written and does the site overall lends itself to a high degree of credibility and trust?
  • Has this content been carefully and conscientiously produced, and not just mass-produced to meet content quotas?

In general, brands want to focus on creating content that has customers coming away from the material feeling like it was created by an expert in the field, and not just someone who has read a few articles on the topic. Customers want to read content that was produced by those who have experience in this particular niche and have something to teach them. They do not want to read content that they could potentially engage with on a variety of other sites.

Building a site that helps to demonstrate why those who work at this organization deserve to be listened to, and why this particular brand has the expertise that will help customers with pain points, will help you secure solid positions on the SERPs and bring in the traffic you need. Google does not want to highly rank brands that regularly put out endless amounts of content. Instead, they want to focus on finding the highest quality content to help users.

What are other recent changes seen on the SERP?

In addition to this January 2020 Google core update, Google also appears to have produced a second update that has led to the display of favicons (brand icons) alongside results on desktop search results. This display offers organizations additional opportunities for branding and attracting attention to the content they produce.

Brands should therefore make sure they have updated their favicon to an image that accurately represents their organization and helps make them more noticeable.

What should the BrightEdge community pay attention to?

As Google wraps up this core update, we recommend that our community continues to focus on creating content according to the E.A.T guidelines. Better content contributes to this superior user experience, and the easier it should be for brands to see their material rise on the SERP, regardless of core updates.

We also recommend that all community members continue to monitor their site traffic and engagement through the BrightEdge platform. This will make it easier for them to see how their content performs in the face of these major changes. The greater the insight marketers have regarding the performance of their content after core updates, the easier it will be to see how well the content produced aligns with Google’s goals of finding the best possible content for site users.

Google continues to update their algorithm and work to uncover the best possible content for any given search. By staying on top of these latest changes and producing content that casts your brand in the best possible light, we feel confident that our community will continue to produce material that helps them build a strong digital presence.