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How will Google’s December 2020 core update affect your website?

6 min read

Back to Insight

6 min read

How will Google’s December 2020 core update affect your website?

Author: Miko
Posted in Search Engine Optimisation on 19th February 2021 12:25 pm

Google is well known for indecipherable updates. Its recent algorithm updates on December 3, 2020, have left digital marketers all over the world to figure out what the SERPs data says and how overall digital marketing and SEO strategies will be affected by the new development. When it comes to providing details on how the new updates differ from the previous ones, the search engine giant is less than forthcoming. This coupled with the simultaneous disruption of the coronavirus pandemic, it can be quite difficult to figure out what changes the updates have brought to your site’s online traffic. 

This article aims to provide a couple of suggestions and useful insights on the subject.

Until now, Google released no further details on the changes its algorithm had undergone and what these changes would mean for sites and digital marketers’ SEO efforts. Nevertheless, it is possible to surmise what the changes are by looking at what sort of changes came with the May update. It is also important that when you consider any core updates and look for change, it is always best to use a few weeks as a sample point as it can sometimes take that long to see changes.

Directory Listings Might Become More Significant

Ever since the core update in May 2020, the importance of directories has increased, causing growth in their rankings as well as their aggregators. What this suggests is that Google might begin promoting directories to the search engine users as a way to help them efficiently locate the information they need.

For businesses, it means that their directory listings are a lot more crucial than they have ever been to SEO efforts and strategies. Misspellings, old or incorrect information, and duplicated listings have always been able to harm your SEO efforts, however, they can do a lot more damage now as a result of the visibility and popularity of directories increase.

Unsupported Back-linking Will Not Function Anymore

Poor quality content was always overtaken by actual authority content, however, there was a time when it could have been salvaged by utilising great back-linking. It does seem that while back-linking remains a pertinent aspect of Google’s SERPs algorithm, content that’s solely supported using backlinks are to be heavily dropped. This strategy appears to pick up from where the May 2020 update stopped.

Digital marketers can continue to utilise appropriate back-linking practices to support their high-quality authority content. However, the updated algorithm appears to discern when the content procured does not have the same quality as the links offered. What this means is that keyword-stuffed, poorly written, short content is likely to be penalised, causing them to continue dropping out of the top SERPs.

More Fleshed Out Content Leads The Way

It appears that thin, poor quality or short content that doesn’t extensively cover the subject matter is out these days. Long gone are the days of using backlinks to prop up content simply because you can do keyword stuffing. The December update seems to expedite this departure by penalising and demoting ‘thin’ content.

If you begin to notice previously famous or at the very least stable content showing up in the SERPs, inspect it for depth and length. Authoritative content seems to be winning the day by appearing at the top on new results pages. This is particularly true for competitive industries and fields. The authority content is usually detailed, significant information that is extremely engaging and sufficiently thorough to make one a subject matter expert. The significance of in-depth industrial knowledge and high-quality writing is as important as it’s ever been. It might be necessary to restructure marketing departments all over accordingly.

What Industries Are More Affected by Google’s December 2020 Core Update?

The strange thing about Google’s algorithms is that not every industry is equally affected. That being said, any changes to the data is likely to be skewed as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic. For example, news station websites and other copy heavy sites would have been in line to experience volatility due to duplicate content and press releases losing points after the May 2020 update. However, the data shows that these sites actually saw a rise in traffic with little to no negative change in SERP ratings. As stated earlier, this change could be as a result of the US elections and the coronavirus pandemic. People are constantly searching for information and extensively following the news due to the new environment we find ourselves in.

Health, Travel and Real Estate were some of the industries that saw massive changes in wake of the May 2020 update, however, these industries were also affected by coronavirus pandemic-related policies. Nevertheless, industries such as People and Society, as well as Animals and Pets saw the most increase after the three aforementioned industries.


The takeaway digital marketers need to understand is that the December 2020 Core Update is likely to continue in the same vein the May 2020 Core Update started. This means that regardless of the industry or line of work, all digital marketers need to have a thorough look at not only their digital marketing practices but their SEO strategies as well. This means ensuring whatever content is produced meets the new metric laid down by the update. The content in question has to be high quality and of course offer real, intrinsic value. Additionally, the use of backlinks should move from being a digital marketer’s sole strategy to being one of support.

Fortunately, if you happen to be one of those digital marketers that have always focused on making high-quality content, you are likely to reap your rewards in the coming weeks, particularly in the SERPs. It does appear that the algorithms google drop will continue to ensure that user experience remains as helpful and smooth as possible. This means your SEO strategy should move towards solving problems or providing solutions for users.

Hopefully, this has given you a flavour of what the new update means for your business. But if you’re still unsure how these updates are playing into your website’s performance, don’t worry – we’d be more than happy to review your SEO strategy and make sure you’re in the best possible position to thrive off the updates. Just give us a call today.

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