Google has been working on a broad core algorithm update and it has just confirmed that it is rolling out this week. Innocuously titled as the ‘January 2020 Core Update’, this is just one of the many broad core algorithm updates Google releases each year. In their announcement, Google stated that their guidance about this update is the same as offered in previous years. They also provided a link for their users to find more information.
Like the broad core updates that came before it, the January 2020 update significantly impacts all search results delivered by Google across the world. This type of update is not about updating a specific aspect, something that webmasters are able to work with and improve upon the way they could with the ‘Speed Update’.
In their advice regarding this week’s update and all others of this type, Google pointed users to a specific blog post as linked above. While explaining how core updates work and what it means for its users, the company likes to use a particular analogy to help get the point across.
Google explains that in order to understand a core update, users should imagine that they have created a list of the 100 best films of 2015. Then, in 2019 this list is refreshed and updated. In the 4 years between 2015 and 2019, the 100 best films will have changed. New films will have been released and some of these will be good enough to make it onto the list. Also, films that were already on the list may need to be reconsidered now that the list creator’s understanding of film has changed. Some films may deserve higher places than they were initially given while others may have previously been overrated.
This analogy can be usefully broken down further. Let us say that the original list had The Shawshank Redemption as the best film of all time. Now, for argument’s sake let us say that Get Out was a superior film and it occupies the new top slot. Even though Shawshank has dropped a rank, it is not a bad film, it has not changed in any way.
Google pointed out that the list will always change. Being further down on the list is not a sign of a lack of quality. It is simply that newer candidates are more deserving of higher positions.
Bearing this example in mind, Google is saying that there is nothing wrong with the web pages that have dropped a few positions in their ranks after a core update takes place. It is just that the older pages are reassessed against more modern content that has come out since the last update, or other old content that had been previously overlooked.
This means that everyone’s place in the search ranking is capable of fluctuating. Everyone needs to watch their position in the ranking in the upcoming days and weeks. Remember, things need to settle before drastic changes are made.
With that in mind, some people will inevitably lose out once things settle down. For those who have dropped in the rankings, this must be taken as a signal that they can do better. It is always worth checking the higher-ranked competition and seeking to learn how to do better in order to reclaim the old top spots.
Remember, old films can never change. When a better film comes out positions on the best films list can be lost permanently. That does not have to be the case for websites as they are always capable of changing, improving and being optimised.