Google’s January 2020 core update was a broad update that affected a huge number of websites in many different verticals. Despite this, there are some clear patterns of the type of website that are most likely have experienced significant rankings changes, or had their SEO campaigns affected. Significantly the January 2020 core update appears to follow a familiar pattern set by other updates over the previous twenty-four months.
When did the Google January 2020 core update occur?
We can be relatively confident about the timeframe of the January 2020 core update, thanks to the information provided by Google. The update began at 12 pm Eastern Time on January 13th. It was mostly concluded by the morning of January 16th. This was a global update, meaning that it affected websites internationally, rather than being specific to any geographical or language-based website.
Which types of websites are affected?
The January 2020 core updated appears to be focused on some very specific verticals. Analysis conducted by Moz.com indicates that the following five verticals were most likely to be affected by the update:
2. Family & Community
3. Beauty & Personal Care
5. Internet & Telecom
Core updates follows pattern of previous updates
One of the most notable features of the January 2020 core update, is that it follows a pattern set by previous updates. This is a pattern that goes back to August 2018’s Medic update. What’s this means that is if your website was affected by the medic update it was also statistically more likely to be affected by this update.
As noted above one of the key verticals affected by the January 2020 core update, is medical. As the name suggests 2018’s medic updated was heavily focused on these websites. The medic update indicated that Google was concerned about the quality of content in sensitive consumer areas, such as websites which are offering medical advice. Because of the health implications, websites that had a higher degree of credibility should have fared better following the update. This is a trend that appears to be continuing with the January 2020 core update.
YMYL websites the focus of core update
The primary focus of the January 2020 core update is your money, your life (YMYL) websites. As the verticals listed above indicates, these are websites that are centered on important personal or financial matters. For websites in the health and financial niches, there was a large amount of movement in the top ten searches.
Despite being focused on these YMYL verticals, this update was by no means limited to them. This distinguishes the update, from some other previous updates such as 2018’s medic update. This was rather a classic broad update, that saw websites affected across the full spectrum of the internet.
What to do if your website has been negatively impacted
Google has provided specific advice on what websites can do if they have been negatively impacted by the January 2020 core update. This includes a series of questions that webmasters should ask themselves.
As such it does provide a useful framework for addressing potential quality issues. As with most of the recent updates, Google has been negatively targeting websites that offer “thin” content in the YMYL niche. However, this is a broad update, meaning for most websites that are negatively affected, there will be a range of contributing factors. This makes it difficult to isolate a small group of specific factors leading to a downgrade.
Webmasters will likely benefit from taking a more holistic view of their website. Use the question framework provided by Google and look at how the website and content can be improved overall in line with Google’s recommendations.