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Home / SEO / The latest data on the January 2020 Google core update…

The latest data on the January 2020 Google core update…

Now that the Google January 2020 core update is mostly rolled out, we have asked several data providers to send us what they found with this Google search update. All of the data providers agree that this core update was a big one and impacted a large number of web sites.

The facts. What we know from Google, as we previously reported, is that the January 2020 core update started to roll out around 12:00 PM ET on Monday, January 13th. That rollout was “mostly done” by Thursday morning, on January 16th. We also know that this was a global update, and was not specific to any region, language or category of web sites. It is a classic “broad core update.”

What the tools are seeing. We have gone to third-party data companies asking them what their data shows about this update.

RankRanger. Mordy Oberstein from RankRanger said, “the YMYL (your money, your life) niches got hit very hard.” “This a huge update,” he added. “There is massive movement at the top of the SERP for the Health and Finance niches and incredible increases for all niches when looking at the top 10 results overall.”

Here is a chart showing the rank volatility broken down by industry and the position of those rankings:

“Excluding the Retail niche, which according to what I am seeing was perhaps a focus of the December 6th update, the January 2020 core update was a far larger update across the board and at every ranking position,” Mordy Oberstein added. “However, when looking at the top 10 results overall during the core update, the Retail niche started to separate itself from the levels of volatility seen in December as well.”

SEMRush. Yulia Ibragimova from SEMRush said “We can see that the latest Google Update was quite big and was noticed almost in every category.” The most volatile categories according to SEMRush, outside of Sports and News, were Online communities, Games, Arts & Entertainments, and Finance. But Yulia Ibragimova added that all categories saw major changes and “we can assume that this update wasn’t aimed to any particular topics,” she told us.

SEMRush offers a lot of data available on its web site over here. But they sent us this additional data around this update for us.

Here is the volatility by category by mobile vs desktop search results:

The top ten winners according to SEMRush were Dictionary.com, Hadith of the Day, Discogs, ABSFairings, X-Rates, TechCrunch, ShutterStock, 247Patience, GettyImages and LiveScores.com. The top ten losers were mp3-youtube.download, TotalJerkFace.com, GenVideos.io, Tuffy, TripSavvy, Honolulu.gov, NaughtyFind, Local.com, RuthChris and Local-First.org.

Sistrix. Johannes Beus from Sistrix posted their analysis of this core update. He said “Domains that relate to YMYL (Your Money, Your Life) topics have been re-evaluated by the search algorithm and gain or lose visibility as a whole. Domains that have previously been affected by such updates are more likely to be affected again. The absolute fluctuations appear to be decreasing with each update – Google is now becoming more certain of its assessment and does not deviate as much from the previous assessment.”

Here is the Sistrix chart showing the change:

According to Sistrix, the big winners were goal.com, onhealth.com, CarGurus, verywellhealth.com, Fandango, Times Of Israel, Royal.uk, and WestField. The big losers were CarMagazine.co.uk, Box Office Mojo, SkySports, ArnoldClark.com, CarBuyer.co.uk, History Extra, Evan Shalshaw, and NHS Inform.

SearchMetrics. Marcus Tober, the founder of SearchMetrics, told us “the January Core Update seems to revert some changes for the better or worse depending on who you are. It’s another core update where thin content got penalized and where Google put an emphasis in YMYL. The update doesn’t seem to affect as many pages as with the March or September update in 2019. But has similar characteristics.”

Here are some specific examples SearchMetrics shared. First was that Onhealth.com has won at March 2019 Core update and lost at September 2019 and won again big time at January 2020 Core update

While Verywellhealth.com was loser during multiple core updates:

Draxe.com, which has been up and down during core updates, with this update seems to be a big winner with +83%. but in previous core updates, it got hit hard:

The big winners according to SearchMetrics were esty.com, cargurus.com, verywellhealth.com, overstock.com, addictinggames.com, onhealth.com, bigfishgames,com and health.com. The big losers were tmz.com, academy.com, kbhgames.com, orbitz.com, silvergames.com, autolist.com, etonline.com, trovit.com and pampers.com.

What to do if you are hit. Google has given advice on what to consider if you are negatively impacted by a core update in the past. There aren’t specific actions to take to recover, and in fact, a negative rankings impact may not signal anything is wrong with your pages. However, Google has offered a list of questions to consider if you’re site is hit by a core update.

Why we care. It is often hard to isolate what you need to do to reverse any algorithmic hit your site may have seen. When it comes to Google core updates, it is even harder to do so. If this data and previous experience and advice has shown us is that these core updates are broad, wide and cover a lot of overall quality issues. The data above has reinforced this to be true. So if your site was hit by a core update, it is often recommended to step back from it all, take a wider view of your overall web site and see what you can do to improve the site overall.


About The Author

Barry Schwartz a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry’s personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here.


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