January 2020 Core Algorithm Update

by | Jan 15, 2020 | Google Search Algorithm Updates

Core Algorithm Update (early observations)

I just want to give everyone a heads-up on a recent update rolled out by Google. We try not to send these out for every little update as there are ~4-6 core updates + ~1200 minor updates & tweaks per year but we’ve received a few questions about this one so I’m sharing what we know so far. Hopefully, this is helpful rather than disruptive. User discretion is advised.

The quick rundown

Google rolls out these core updates every 2-3 months – this update labeled “January 2020 Core Update”, was rolled out on Jan 13th, 2020

‘Core Updates’ are usually Google doing ‘more of the same’ – tweaks to existing elements.

It’s early:

  • it generally takes ~2-3 weeks for the SEO industry to get enough data to confirm details of an update
  • if the details are substantial enough to merit changes to our strategies, products or process we will share those insights in a followup

Here is Google’s announcement:

Early assessment:

It seems to be pretty big – it seems to be affecting a large number of sites.

It seems to be mostly continued tweaking of Google’s effort to assess content expertise/trustworthiness.

It seems to be somewhat concentrated on Health/Medical & Financial sites – the first big content quality update we saw like this, Aug 2018, is referred to as ‘ The Medic Update’.

We have already been focusing our products & strategies on emphasizing content quality over quantity – in anticipation of exactly this sort of shift.

Some dirty details for us nerds

Some SEOs are referring to it as the “Picard update” because… nerds?

‘Core Updates’ typically indicates that the update is ‘more of the same’ consisting more of tweaks to previous elements rather than whole new concepts or drastic shifts from previous algorithms

This feels like another tweak to the Medic Update – more concentration on EAT (Expertise, Authority & Trustworthiness of the content source related to the subject)

Very likely to be an adjustment due to the integration of BERT (essentially Google’s latest iteration/evolution of machine learning and language processing – trying to read content like a human)


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