NP Digital, SEO Dec 4, 2020

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Google’s December Core Algorithm Update: NP Digital’s POV

While it’s frustrating to many in the search world that Google announces these updates so nonchalantly, simply posting a link to their same old ‘What webmasters should know about Google’s core updates’ blog, it’s important not to freak out when this occurs. Simply re-examine the many tips and guidelines Google has provided over time about how to offer the best user experience, and stay on track with projects you’re working on to better meet Google’s guidelines and improve your user experience.

Looking for more inspiration? Our team of performance marketing experts has come together to help you better understand Google’s December Broad Core Update. Read the round-up below to see how our teams handle these updates, and how our experience in the SEO industry helps shape our reactions and conversations with clients.

User sending a search query to Google to represent the December algorithm update

So, What Exactly Does Google’s December Broad Core Algorithm Mean?

Kevin Keene, SEO Strategist explains: “On a regular basis, Google will update its algorithm to improve their search results and provide a better experience for users. A few times a year, Google will make more significant changes to their algorithm that generates greater ranking fluctuations than normal. Some sites will experience considerable ranking gains and others ranking declines, depending on if the algorithm change favors their content. These updates are known as Broad Core Algorithm Updates and they are some of the few changes to the algorithm that Google will announce and confirm. Rarely does Google provide much information about what specifically changed and will only detail when it is changing.”

What Do the SEO Experts Have To Say?

Technical SEO Manager, Travis Tonsbeek, says “Broad core algo updates typically induce a state of panic amongst the SEO community and the businesses that depend on organic traffic. These same people have probably read dozens of horror stories about past updates or have even been a ‘victim’ of one themselves. While it’s understandable to worry given what’s at stake, it’s also very important to remember that these updates can also present opportunity – one where you may realize the benefits from all the hard work that goes into crafting a well-tuned SEO strategy.”

Luke O’Leary, Senior Strategist says, “Times like these (when updates occur around important holiday traffic seasons) are a good reminder that we should always be creating our web strategy aimed at where Google is headed with search – not just where they are now – but working within the guidelines of current accepted strategies. Understanding where Google wants to take search, specifically for the user, is extremely important for the longevity of your organic strategy. The Broad Core Algorithms Google rolls out are intended to help push search closer to Google’s perception of what Users want from search results and the search experience. This is why they always answer, ‘What can we do to fix the negative impact from the last algorithm?’ with ‘Make great content.’ This means making great content that best answers the intent of the questions (queries) your audience is searching for and that you are aligned with what your users want from those answers.”

“Having come from managing SEO in-house to now operating on the other side of the aisle with NP Digital, I can thoroughly testify to the nebulous nature of Google’s algorithm updates,” said Tristan Ackley, an SEO Specialist with nearly 10 years of experience in various functions across the digital marketing stack. “When mobile-first indexing was announced in March 2020, for example, I knew the importance of responsive design to ensure a consistent cross-device user experience but was unaware of ‘Mobile Usability’ as a direct scoring metric within the algorithm itself. This was the exact ammunition my team and I needed to show our executives the importance of optimizing our mobile site for SEO as much as our desktop version. Referencing the Google Developer Blog as the authoritative backdrop, we compiled a strategy and action plan resulting in a hefty increase in mobile impression share. Mobile-first indexing may not have been a revelation for folks who’d been knee-deep in the SEO industry, but the timing of the March 2020 announcement coincided with a development project my team and I had been working on for a couple of months, so it worked out nicely for us to be able to take action on Google’s recommendations. Google makes incremental updates throughout the year in addition to Broad Core updates, so keeping an eye out for both big and small changes may be the difference you need to get the green light on your SEO project.”

Pie chart and magnifying glass representing data analysis

What Do NP Digital Team Members Outside of the SEO Department Have To Say?

If there is one thing Jessica Pozantides knows from her role as a Senior Account Director and liaising between clients and SEO teams, it’s that swift client communication is key. She says, “NPD always ensures we quickly communicate if and how our clients are impacted, and provide timely recommendations on how to move forward. But in general, we continuously communicate the future of SEO to our clients and stand by Google’s approach. So oftentimes, these algorithm updates actually help us prioritize our SEO and user experience recommendations with our clients for greater campaign impacts overall.”

Chad Gilbert, Director of Content at NP Digital isn’t on the front lines with SEO algorithm updates, but because content quality can be a major tactic to battle Google algorithm updates, he’s no stranger to dealing with them. He shares, “In my 10+ years of digital marketing, I’ve learned that Google is always changing, and one way to stay on the cutting edge is to be proactive with the content you create, publish, and promote online. Google continues to put more emphasis on expertise, quality, and trustworthiness of content, so it is more important than ever to lead content marketing efforts with these factors in mind. Our team is no stranger to proactively battling core updates like this latest one, and we will continue to focus on this so we don’t have to react as much.”

What Does NP Digital Recommend Doing as This Update Rolls Out?

Camille Garrigues, SEO Specialist, says the key takeaway is, “Don’t panic. As long as you have a sound SEO strategy and high-quality content created with expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness in mind, chances are your site will fare just fine no matter what Google does. With that said, it is a good idea to keep a close eye on your traffic and rankings in the coming days and weeks as the update fully rolls out. If you do see things begin to drop, stay the course, and don’t make any huge changes just yet. Keep up with the news around the update and see if there’s anything you can learn from sites whose rankings or traffic have greatly improved.”

For more guidance on how to respond to Google’s ongoing core algorithm updates, read the NP Digital blog and follow NP Digital on LinkedIn and Instagram.

Nikki Lam
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