What Is Google’s December 2020 Core Update – And How Does It Affect Your Digital Marketing Efforts? Scott Hirsch Explains

Scott Hirsch Another update was expected just in time for the Holidays 

Google is infamous for its impenetrable updates. It drops a new algorithm, and as digital marketers, we’re left to interpret the SERPs data and infer how our digital marketing efforts will have to change. Google is far from generous with the details on exactly what changed in their May update earlier this year. And with the simultaneous disruption of COVID-19, it can be difficult to discern, which changes in your online traffic can be attributed to the May 2020 Core Update and the December Update just announced. Scott Hirsch, founder and CEO of Media Direct and digital marketing pioneer, has a few insights and suggestions.

What Will the December 2020 Core Update Actually Change? Scott Hirsch Explains

As usual, Google was less than forthcoming about how their algorithm had changed and what this would mean for digital marketers and it will take a few weeks to see the full impact. But by working backward through the data, says Scott Hirsch, we can intuit what those changes were in May.

Thin Isn’t in When it Comes to Content Warns Scott Hirsch

“Thin” content is defined as short, poor quality, and/or doesn’t cover the topic extensively. The days of keyword stuffing and propping up poor content with backlinks just for the sake of having it on your site are long gone. And this new update hastens the departure of thin content by demoting and penalizing it.

If you notice formerly popular – or at least stable – content dropping in the SERPs, examine it for length and depth, suggests Scott O Hirsch. Especially in competitive fields, authority content is coming out on top in the new results. Authority content is in-depth, meaningful information that is so thorough and engaging that it can make you an authority in your field. The importance of high-quality writing and in-depth industry knowledge is more important than ever. You may want to hire and restructure your marketing departments accordingly.

Unsupported Backlinking Won’t Work Anymore Says Scott Hirsch

Previously, though thin content always took a backseat to true authority content, it could often be salvaged using good backlinking. It appears that while backlinking is still an important part of Google’s algorithms for SERP results, content that is supported only by backlinks dropped heavily after the May 2020 Core Update and is expected to continue in December.

Proper backlinking practices will continue to support and prop up high-quality content, but the new algorithm seems to recognize when the content offered does not match the quality of the links. Expect short, poorly written, keyword-stuffed content to drop and continue dropping, warns Scott Hirsch.

Directory Listings May Become More Important Says Scott Hirsch

Since the May 2020 Core Update, directories have seen growth in their rankings, along with aggregators. This suggests that Google may be promoting directories to users to find the information they need more efficiently.

For businesses, this means that your directory listings are more important than ever to your SEO efforts. Duplicate listings, incorrect or old information, misspellings – they will do you an even greater disservice than before as the popularity and visibility of directories grow.

Scott Hirsch Explains How the December 2020 Core Update Changes Will Affect Your Business

Not all industries are affected equally by changes to Google’s algorithms. And, Scott Hirsch reminds us, it is important to remember that the data we have post-update is also affected by the coronavirus pandemic. For instance, copy heavy sites like news stations should have experienced volatility as press releases and duplicate content lost points. But news outlets have seen an increase in traffic and almost no drop in SERP ratings. This can likely be attributed to the pandemic and election year. People are searching for and reading the news more extensively than ever in this new environment.

Travel, Real Estate, and Health all saw major changes after the May 2020 Core Update, according to a study by Search Engine Land. But, again, this could also be due to coronavirus. But right after those categories, the industries that saw the most change in their SERP ratings were “Pets and Animals” and “People and Society.”

No matter what industry you’re in, the May and December 2020 Core Updates should at least encourage you to take a look at your digital marketing practices and reevaluate, advises Scott Hirsch. Are you producing high-quality content that engages and offers real value? Are you using backlinks as a support strategy rather than your only strategy?

The good news about the update is that if you have been focusing on creating high-quality content this whole time, you’re going to be rewarded in the SERPs. And Scott Hirsch only foresees that trend continuing as Google’s algorithms work to make the user experience as smooth and helpful as possible. So keep up the good work!

Scott Hirsch is the CEO and founder of Media Direct. He is also a digital marketing pioneer in opt-in email marketing, SEO, social media management, and e-appending. You can find him published in Times, INC, Forbes, Huffington Post, and Fox Business.