Google’s Dec 2020 Core Update: Its impact on our site and how we countered it

Google’s early Christmas present came as a surprise (err, shock for many)- the December 3rd, 2020 Core Update.

Industry experts called it larger and quicker than the May 2020 update. 

As per John Mueller, the algo at a high level included:

  • Web vitals (that is going to launch in May 2021) [Update: Delayed to mid-June]
  • More focus on content and quality guidelines.
  • Close tabs on site index in Google, mobile indexing & traditional backlink audits.

Some of the important factors that were seen to be impacting ranking (reference):-

  • User Experience. One of the key factors that Google considers for ranking (combination of website design, layout, ad load, how easily users navigate the site, and more)
  • Thin Content. Thin content doesn’t necessarily mean content limited words. It means content that has no value. Many sites with thin content were seen to be affected negatively.
  • E.A.T. Content that shows expertise was rewarded compared to content that is on an authority site but doesn’t shows expertise
  • No-Follow Links. No-follow links from high authority sites contribute to better ranking.

We manage a site that caters to end-to-end mobile app development (focusing on native and hybrid mobile apps). Our SEO efforts and focused content strategies helped the site see a steady rise over the pandemic year 2020. 

But significant algo updates from Google always hit hard when they come. And this one was big!

See how it tanked the site’s number of impressions and clicks during the month that followed the core update.

Google Core Update Case Study

This was our cue to pedal harder on our SEO efforts. 

Google’s advice after all core updates has been similar- create high-quality content, follow best practices, implement structured data for better search visibility and resolve SEO issues. 

What We Did?

These were some key actions undertaken at our end between Mid December and Mid January 2021:

  • Study what Google was rewarding within our niche (post algo roll out).
  • Update the content that was poorly affected to follow what Google seemed to be rewarding after the update.
  • Disavowed some potentially toxic backlinks.
  • Fixed some technical issues & improved site speed.

As visible in the image above, the numbers (clicks, impressions) started hitting an upward trend around the beginning of Feb 2021 and continued to progress upwards. Our figures from April 2021 have surpassed our previous high!

Goes without saying- SEO is not a one-time job. It needs constant work on the site as well as its content to meet the searcher’s intent. And Google’s Core Updates are always a reminder to do so! 🙂 

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