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Google’s 2020 December Core Updates

Updated: Jul 22


Google’s 2020 December Core Updates

Google Christmas present is here. Google new December 2020 core algorithm update which started rolled out on December 3, 2020 officially.

Analyzing Google’s December 2020 Core Update

SearchLiaison tweet committed that we should have observed the full reach of the third core update for 2020.

Early Signs of a Core Update with Substantial Impact

At the starting point, the December 2020 core update sees that it is biggest and has a much bigger impact than the one back in May.

SERP volatility for the last 30 days

December 2020 Core Update Winners and Losers

Multiple sectors appear to be pretentious or affected this time. On December 4, which is an actually a second day of the launch, SERPs(Search Engine Result Page) for most site categories reached a 9.4 elusive mark (and all of them presented volatility above 9), update seemed to be relatively unaffected on the first day of the day in SERPs such as Books & Literature and Real Estate. Uniformly “green zone” categories (industries that hardly ever experience any observably volatility outside a broad algorithm update) this time shook hard.


On the same day, we also spotted a immediate and unexpected spike in Shopping results on SERPs, which then suddenly returned to pre-update levels.

SERP volatility for the last 30 days

The most affected industries

Generally, sectors high-flown the most across both desktop and mobile screens are Health, Real Estate, and Law & Government. If we talk about the desktop search, the Travel and Finance groups also observe high volatility rates in the first days of this roll-out; on the other hand on mobile, Jobs & Education and Pets & Animals sector sites.


According to the domain size most affected sites

It seems that larger domains are as yet acutely affected. Almost 50% of the biggest winners and losers so far are domains with traffic surpassing 1 million monthly visitors.


1 in 3 domains experiencing visibility drops are sites with over 10 million visitors per month.

Distribution of winning domains by traffic
Distribution of losing domains by traffic

The most affected sites category wise

As a wide algorithm update, this has a noteworthy effect across numbers of industries. Below, we have grouped winning and losing domains by industry.


SERPs Winners

Winner sites operating within the Business & Industrial, Internet & Telecom and Beauty & Fitness industries.

categories of winning websites

Usually, the biggest SERPs winners earn 20 positions, with sites like zoominfo.com (a for-sale business contact database) seeing their average rankings jumping 67 positions on December 3 and 4. LinkedIn was another big winner, moving up 47 positions on average on the day.


With the results of the pandemic still dominating the economy, these considerable adaptations could throw back the rapidly changing landscape in business and recruitment.


Here are the 10 sites that witnessed the largest position spikes on the first day of the December 2020 core update:

SERP Losing Domains

Among the domains that saw the biggest organic visibility losses, sites in the Online Communities, Shopping and News sectors present the biggest position drops.

categories of losing websites

On December 4, the average position loss for sites across the worst affected industries was a whopping 23 positions. But domains like yellowpages.com and newsbreak.com saw even more dramatic drops, losing 94 and 83 positions respectively in a single day.


Here are the top 10 sites that suffered the most when December’s core update starting rolling out:

Navigating Through the December 2020 Update

The SEO community seems to be questioning the bad timing of the update - sure, it was rolled out after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but right before Christmas (and in a year like 2020!).


Marie Haynes dag out this tweet by Matt Cutts from 2013:

Although John Mueller told Barry Schwartz that he sees no issue, for many businesses whose biggest sales surge occurs just before the Christmas holidays, this algorithm update could cause significant distress.

As with all other core updates, Google’s advice remains consistent:

  • Invest in creating high-quality content that follows best-in-class industry practices;

  • Make use of structured data to help search engines uncover the most relevant content per search query; and

  • Fix any SEO issues that hinder smooth user experience.

  • Wait until the update is fully rolled-out before you decide to make any significant changes to your website.

Although Google claims that sites can see some recovery in-between core updates, if you’ve been negatively affected you will still have to work on perfecting your SEO and content experience after this update is complete:

  • Make sure to run a full site audit to fix any major and minor SEO issues. Our Site Audit tool can help you detect potential issues and offer improvement suggestions.

  • Keep monitoring your online visibility and rankings - the Position Tracking tool’s custom triggers can be a big help here if you want to spot any position drops in a timely manner.

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