Google Core Update January 2020

What is a new year without some new beginnings? Google has already published the first significant change to its search algorithm in 2020.

The name of the update is January 2020 Core Update. On the 13th of January, this update began to wake up businesses from their hibernation, as some major hits have already been noticed.

The update is being executed in numerous Google data centers. All of this is part of Google’s more open communication strategy around updates.

Some early responses and analysis results can be seen just one week after the big release. As always, it takes a while until changes in search results are measurable, but visible shifts have already appeared. This made some businesses quite unhappy, as a lot of them have taken a huge hit in their search rankings.

What Are The Google Core Updates About

Google executes thousands of small changes every year, sometimes even a few updates daily, but most of them aren't so noticeable.

The Google Core Updates are the ones that affect the organic rankings of many websites. Unfortunately, Google offers very general information for the reasons behind the Core Updates. What they are saying is:

“Focus on ensuring you’re offering the best content you can”.

At the end of the day, the advice from Google to use the Search Quality Raters Guidelines is the most reliable.

Considering the latest update, we assume that Google is modifying its trust in entire domains based on machine learning for these Core Updates. If a domain has more credibility from its sector, the potential for bigger changes when Google makes its modifications increases.

Major changes in the health and finance sectors have been noticed since the start of the Core Update processes. The ranking changes in these sectors are much greater than in other sectors.

SEO expert, Glenn Gabe, acknowledged these changes, after the release of the January 2020 Core Update:

What Does It All Mean?

Here is an analogy on how you can look at this Core Update. Take a list of the top 3 Star Wars movies from 2010. A few years later, in 2020, the list has to be updated. Because of the new Star Wars movies that have been released and the liking of the people to watch The Original Trilogy. Okay, this may have been a bad example considering the new movies, but you get my point.

Google Updates are affecting how rankings are calculated by the search engine. This is an essential thing, considering the number of new websites and content that are being churned out every day.

Moreover, you should always keep in mind the general aim of any update. That is to always improve the relevance and quality of the search results. These updates are the optimization Google is offering, it fights spam, and combats duplicate content.

Noticeable Changes

As the update continues, more information will definitely come. For now, you can clearly see the consequences provided by the automated tracking tools that track the SERPs (search engine results pages).

  • SERPmetrics - these are flux reports that show search engine volatility over the last day, and month. A Higher flux means a high level of change in the SERPs.

The changes after the January 2020 Core Update are visible after it’s release on the 13th of January.

serpmetrics flux chart

These results are based on the ranking changes of approximately 400,000 desktop and 200,000 mobile keywords, across various countries.

advanced web ranking
  • Rank Risk Index - The Rank Risk feature of Rank Ranger also measures the SERP fluctuations.

The numbers displayed on the Risk Index graphs represent the change in rankings on a particular date. The higher the Risk Index, the more Google's rankings have fluctuated.

When you see orange, you should check your rankings and take precautionary measures. The red color indicates a higher risk level, and you should take serious actions to protect your rankings.

Here you can see the Desktop and Mobile SERP Fluctuations from the last 30 days.

rank rangerrankranger_mobile
  • MozCast - a “weather” report showing turbulence in the Google algorithm. The hotter and stormier the weather, the more Google's rankings changed.

As we can see, on January 13th “the weather” was pretty hot, 98°, with the previously normal temperature being 63-65°.


Previous experience has shown us that these core updates are large-scale and cover the overall quality issues. The data above has reinforced this to be true. So was your site hit by this core update? Stay with me to learn more about how you can protect your business from future core updates.

What to Do If You Are Affected?

There's one thing we can agree on, you should implement the following aspects and you'll never be afraid of Google's tweaks and changes:

  • Create quality content based on reliable research and expertise;
  • Focus on the overall presentation of the content. (This includes loading time on all devices; implementation of interactive content, usage of ads, etc.);
  • Include proper use of grammar and spelling;
  • Don’t repeat content, but be original;
  • Provide a headline and/or page title that offers a clear summary of the content;
  • Strive for more valuable content when compared to your competitors;
  • Fulfill the customers' expectations.

Final Words

To wrap things up, there is no need to worry or panic if you have been doing an honest job regarding your website and its content.

As our SEO, Content and Google Ads expert, Mile Davchevski says:

"Don't worry too much, fluctuations in ranks tend to happen after core updates."

However, he also adds:

"You're right to freak out if you were naughty. Perhaps Santa didn't catch you red-handed, but Google most definitely will."

So, did you experience any losses or growth in organic traffic as of January 13th? Were you part of the winners or losers after this Google core algorithm update? Feel free to write in the comments below, and we’ll try to give you some pointers or just congratulate you on a job well done.

Finally, don’t forget to check your Analytics and Google Console to see how this latest core update impacted you or your clients. And if you need an expert, feel free to contact us to schedule a free appointment.