Last Updated: January 14th, 2020
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Over the past year I’ve made a lot of updates to this page.
Every time Google release a broad, core update, I share the tweets involved and some of the results and ranking changes that people are public about seeing.
And every time I get some emails that are painful to read at times, due to how certain businesses are being affected by updates.
Still, for every loser there’s a winner, and often opportunities to improve what you’re doing (in certain cases) to improve your results.
Not necessarily things you should change as a result of an algorithm update, but to see algorithm updates as an opportunity to look at whether your site makes it easy for search engines to see what it’s about, amongst other things.
First of all, here’s Google’s announcement of the January 2020 Core Update which is currently rolling out:
The January 2020 Core Update is now live and will be rolling out to our various data centers over the coming days.
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) January 13, 2020
If you’ve been affected, there a few things you can look into.
Keep in mind that these suggestions aren’t algorithm update specific, but moreso best practices to keep in mind when looking at your site as a whole.
First of all, do you have any messages in Google Search Console?
If you haven’t set-up Google Search Console for your website yet, that’s what I would do immediately after reading this page.
If you have any kind of penalty against your site, you’ll see a message in here letting you know about it.
It’s honestly very unlikely that you have any warnings, even if your website has lost a lot of search traffic, but it’s worth ruling out to be safe.
Do ‘new elements’ appear in search results for your target terms?
It may be the case that Google haven’t “devalued” your site, but simply have introduced new elements in search results that have either pushed your rankings down, and / or they’ve resulted in you getting fewer clicks.
Things that might now appear in search results for your top keyphrases include:
- Featured snippets
- Video carousels
- People Also Ask boxes
There might be a more logical explanation to some of your traffic losses, especially if just a few key pages made up the majority of your overall search traffic.
Did you recently make major on-site changes?
Though it’s not that common, I have looked at some websites that make major changes – whether moving from non-secure to secure, or updating internal linking – around the same time as a core algorithm update.
Is it possible you did something similar?
Though rare, make sure you haven’t accidentally made your website uncrawlable, or removed key navigational links that point to pages you’re looking to rank.
Are you the best result for a user?
I really don’t mean to be insulting, but it’s a genuine question.
Quite a few people who email me for help have admitted they probably aren’t the best result for a user, but still expect to be in the top three results of Google for their target term.
I certainly don’t get to decide who ranks where, of course, but if you can’t honestly say that you’re the best result for a specific query, then that probably goes a long way to why your top pages aren’t ranking where you want them to be.
Please note that this article is a work in progress, and we’re constantly updating our advice.
If you would like me to take a look at your website, please send an email to email@example.com. Though I can’t promise my current availability, I’ll try and recommend someone who is available.