Google December 2020 Core Update

Google has released its much-awaited December 2020 core update on December 3rd, 2020. The core update is the third Google algorithmic update that is being released in this year, with the earlier version released around seven months back on May 4th, popularly referred to as “Star Wars” update.
The seven months gap is a big one and has contributed towards increased expectations and apprehensions of what is in store with this update. Based on the earlier experiences, it can be said that the concerns are well-founded regarding the impact of Google December 2020 update.
Especially the SEO community is eagerly looking forward to the updates to be rolled on as a significant part of it could be effecting search engine algorithm. The earlier core updates do have a history of changing the algorithm which has impacted the rankings of many pages and websites, resulting in the rework of SEO activity to ensure that the page complies with the new algorithm and ranking factors.

Since the December 2020 core update is already rolled out, the question is not about ‘When” but “How it would impact” and “What can be done”. .

What is a Core update?
Releasing core updates is a normal process for Google. There are hundreds of updates that are released every year. These Google updates are minor ones, which are mostly focused on- enhancing a feature, fixing a bug etc. which does not have a significant change in the regular functioning.
It does not mean that they do not have any effect. They do, and SEO experts find them as niggling troubles which do require proper attention to check if there is a change in ranking factors or SEO algorithm, to make necessary changes. However, the impact of these Google updates is limited, and there are only a few people who get affected. Time and again, Google makes announcements of Core updates. These updates are bigger updates and usher changes which could impact many websites and redefine the functioning.
Google has rolled out two Core updates in 2020 – January 2020 core update and May 2020 core update.
The earlier update did ring in some changes to the SEO algorithm, impacting the rankings of many sites. The site owners and SEO experts expect the worst from these core updates; there are also avenues which could be benefitted from.
What to expect from this core update?
Core updates require a longer time, many times, a couple of weeks for all the updates to be rolled entirely in. As of now, the changes which Google December 2020 has brought in is uncertain. However, there is talk about the impact on the rankings of their websites from various site owners.
This is on expected lines if the trends from the earlier two updates are to be looked at. The two updates this year, i.e. the January 2020 core update and the core update of May 2020 did create an impact. Especially when compared to the one before that, i.e. September 2019 core update. Many of the SEO experts believe that the core update of last year was instead a weak one, which might not be the case for the current one.
A change in SEO algorithm is expected, but one has to wait for the complete updates to roll in before trying to assess what has changed.
The updates can harm the ranking of the page.
This is something most of the site owners fear about the core update. The Google algorithmic update can change the algorithm of how Google goes about ranking the pages. This implies that rules with which your current website complies with might have changed and this non-compliance might lead to a drop in the rank.
However, going by the previous trends, it can be understood that the focus of Google is on the relevancy of the content. The change in the algorithms has been to bring transparency to identify the sites which have relevant content and reward them accordingly.
Hence, even if there is a fall in the ranking, there is no reason to fret over it. Focus on developing the content relevant to the niche. The rankings are bound to improve.
Improvement in the rankings
While there is a fear about a fall in the rankings, there is also a scope that the rankings might improve. SEO is a long-drawn-out process. Having a higher ranking and maintaining it is the result of a careful process where the content, backlinks, references etc. have all been carefully managed and built up. Google 2020 core updates could be recognition and validation of this process. The search engine algorithm could identify the relevancy of the content and thereby reward with a higher ranking.
While Google has been consistently trying to work on enhancing the ranking factors, a constant has been the relevancy of the content.
The current core updates could be pushing through this plan as a continuum of its earlier attempts. Hence site owners can have a positive outlook on the Google December 2020 update and can expect an improvement in the rankings.
It is also an opportunity for newly published content which was not present during the earlier update to be assessed and based on the relevancy can help in the site getting a higher ranking.
There would be churning in the rankings; it needs to be an accepted fact. Hence the strategy ought to be more focussed on how to improve the relevancy of the content rather than worrying about the rankings. It underlines the core aspect that in the longer run, Google looks at reward websites which are more current and relevant to the emerging trends and stay true to their niche.
Recovering from a Google core update
If you have one of those websites that have been impacted by Google December 2020 update, we reiterate that there is no need to be worrying about it. It is part of the long process, and you can work your way through to improve the ranking. The idea is all about realigning the website and content following the Google algorithmic update.
This is more in the lines of caution against the site owners or webmasters not to get into a frenzy and go about changing the things to improve ranking.
There is a scope for recovery and a procedure which can be set in motion for it. Here are a few tips which could aid in the process of recovery :
Understand where is the impact:
You can use a Google Console to identify the particular pages and the keywords that were affected. As indicated earlier, an ongoing strategy of Google in bringing the updates is to emphasize relevancy. Therefore, it could be a case, wherein although your website is perfect, there might be some webpage or content that is irrelevant and needs a recalibration.
Gather the Data:
To assess the impact, it is important to gather relevant information. You can look at getting information for the below questions:
  1. What is happening to the landscapes?  
  2. What are the websites that are being ranked for the keywords that you earlier emphasized on?  
  3. What are the elements on these pages?  
  4. How does their link profile compare to that of yours?   
You can start with trying to get answers for these questions and delve deeper. An SEO agency can look at focusing on these aspects in case the websites of their clients get impacted with the Google December 2020 core update, before tinkering around with backend information and links.
Be prepared for the change.
Site owners, digital marketing agencies, SEO experts etc. put in a lot of effort in developing an SEO strategy, which might be yielding results for a more extended period. The keywords, content etc. might be relevant for long, and the Google algorithm could be ranking your website higher.
However, there are chances that it would not remain the same. Over some time, there would be new trends which would set it and redefine the relevance of the content in the current context.
Google core updates can act as a wake-up call for you to have a relook at the strategy and identify the need to make any changes. Hence if your website is affected by the core update, make the efforts in the right direction to realign the SEO strategy with the new algorithm, rather than sticking to a process that has worked over a while.
There is no single solution for recovery. It starts with a trust that the core updates are for the larger good in the long run and are here to simplify and bring transparency. This premise would help in understanding the changes in the algorithm that a core update would get in and realign the SEO strategy accordingly.