Google recently confirmed the release of its latest search algorithm update in December of 2020. The update has been named Google’s December Algorithm update. This seems to be run under the SMITH framework and has been designed to improve Google’s accuracy in matching user search queries with the most useful and relevant results. Lately, Google’s recent algorithms are focusing less on ranking factors and more on how websites, queries and text prediction are understood.
What is the Google Algorithm?
The Google algorithm is a complex system that enables Google to collect data from a search query and provide the user with the most relevant pages and information.
This algorithm is the system that is in charge of how well pages rank organically for a query. Achieving first positions on Google ranks is a hard task that depends on various factors.
There are 5 main areas that have an impact on Google’s search results.
- Meaning of the search query
- Relevance of web pages
- Ranking useful pages
- Usability of web pages
- Context and settings
Google Algorithm Updates Explained
The main aim of the Google algorithm update is to assess the quality of the content on pages currently ranked on Google.
Google has been working hard to provide the best user experience possible for each search query. Since the launch of their algorithm EAT (Expertise, authority, and trustworthiness), the search engine has been prioritising content that matches user intent over content that is over-optimised. (Including tactics such as keyword stuffing or overusing targeted keywords, and trying to appear for irrelevant queries just because the keyword has high search volume, etc).
At the end of October 2019, Google launched its BERT update, a new searcher powered by artificial intelligence (AI) that allowed an even more specific search query match counting with user intent. This algorithm update caused ranking shifts globally, as irrelevant keywords for which pages were ranking before were erased for organic rankings.
Google launches new algorithm updates daily. Some of these updates can have a huge impact on the organic rankings of your website, while some others only will affect a particular vertical or don’t affect any at all.
Broad updates are noticed by most webmasters, and these are usually rolling out 2-3 times a year. This is why optimising the page constantly and logging keyword rankings is crucial for every site.
The significance of a Google algorithm update
When Google launches a new update to its search algorithm, it has a direct effect on how your website ranks in the Google search results.
Website owners should keep a watchful eye on their analytics and rankings to make sure they do not experience any faults as a result of the changes made. See the below list for things that can be done straight away.
Double-check Google rankings
If you’ve noticed an unexpected slump in your Google rankings, this could be evidence your site has been affected by the latest update. You may want to consider analysing where traffic has been lost, and by how much, as well as double-checking all content, is displaying correctly across the site and there are no new broken 404 links.
Review Content Strategy
Revamping your content strategy and ensuring you are producing relevant content to your audience and their needs is vital to moving up the rankings. Make sure the content produced by your brand promotes expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T), in line with Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines.
Analyse Behaviour Strategy
Conduct an audience behavioural analysis to develop personas so you can engage with them more effectively and understand their requirements and intentions.
Improve User Experience
Focus on how you can make changes to your site to improve user experience using engaging content and appealing visuals. Optimise your page for mobile browsing and ensure the journey to the checkout seamless so users can convert without friction.
Broad Core Algorithm: What should users be aware of?
According to Semrush, the main verticals that are affected by this most recent update include Travel and Finance for desktop, and Jobs & Education, and Pets & Animals on mobile.
This algorithm started rolling out on December the 3rd and on 16th of December, Google announced that this update was complete, even though most pages continued noticing changes for the rest of the month.
This algorithm was focused in particular on the way that websites tackled content. There were particular good results to pages that covered content around topics instead of covering subjects widely, showing the importance of content specification that we previously saw on the EAT update.
With the sheer volume of content on the internet, it’s no surprise Google is trying to sift the quality from the junk. One of the key takeaways is that you remember to always keep your content relevant to your specific audience.