Google January Core Update is Live: What You Should Know

The Google January Core Update is now live, marking the biggest change to the search engine’s core algorithm since September 2019.

  • What Happened: Google launched a new update to their search algorithm
  • Why it Matters: It’ll affect your ranking in Google search engine
  • Next Steps: Take a moment to review EAT guidelines for easy ways to improve your content 
  • How big is this?: Pretty big – certainly more impactful than last year’s update

These core updates are a big deal in the digital marketing world, as it changes how Google understands and ranks your website in search engines. After today, you may find your higher or lower in search results.

Effects of a Google Broad Core Algorithm Update

  • Website’s ranking positions can change drastically, moving up and down search queries globally
  • Ranking positions affect how much website traffic you get
  • Google can better understand contextual results in search queries
  • If your rankings decreased, the only fix is to improve the quality of website content
  • Focus more on Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness (E.A.T)

Typically, Google will release 2-3 core updates a year, supported by a few smaller updates, like last year’s Speed Update or the BERT update, which only affected local search results.

This core update comes early in the year, and SEOs like myself will be keeping a close eye on search engine rankings and organic traffic over the next few weeks. If you’re curious about what web traffic metrics you should be watching, we wrote a Website Data Analytics guide for that.

What’s Changing in the January Core Update

As for what’s changing in the update, Google is, as usual, cryptic. They don’t offer nitty-gritty details of what’s changed, rather they linked to their Webmaster blog post from August 2018, stating that the quality guidelines they’ve previously announced still apply.

Ultimately, Google recommends focusing on content. Specifically, quality content, the kind that offers Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. Google provides a questionnaire of sorts to help better analyze and improve your content, with questions like:

  • Does the content provide original information, reporting, research or analysis?
  • Is this content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?
  • Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results

So, this update should bring Google’s internal ranking system closer to the EAT guidelines for quality content.

EAT it Up Until We Know More

Already, this update seems to be more significant than the previous core update in September, which was widely regarded as minor, with SEOs seeing middling changes to their website ranking and the search engine’s functionality itself.

As always, we’ll be monitoring web analytics, and will update this post with any other far-reaching effects we see. In the meantime, if you’re looking to monitor website metrics yourself, check out our Digital Marketing guides and how-to articles.