Google December 2020 Core Update Is Live - Here Is What We See Now

Dec 4, 2020 - 7:41 am 154 by
Filed Under Google Updates

Google December 2020 Core Update

Google has launched the December 2020 Broad Core Update yesterday afternoon, this comes after SEOs eagerly awaiting an update since the May 2020 core update seven months ago. Some thought we might not get another core update in 2020 but we did.

This update, so far, and it is early, seems to have the teeth of a true Google broad core update. Some sites are reporting huge wins or losses, like over 30% or more and it is less than a day since it began to roll out.

We have been tracking many Google algorithm updates that have gone unconfirmed since the May 2020 update, including one over the past few days. It seems the updates we noticed earlier this week are unrelated to this December 2020 core update.

Google said yesterday on Twitter "later today, we are releasing a broad core algorithm update, as we do several times per year. It is called the December 2020 Core Update. Our guidance about such updates remains as we’ve covered before."

Roll Out Started At 13:00 December 3, 2020

The roll out started at about 1pm ET on December 3, 2020. Google said on Twitter "the December 2020 Core Update is now rolling out live. As is typical with these updates, it will typically take about one to two weeks to fully roll out."

Yes, last time it took about two weeks to fully roll out but most noticed the last update within 24 hours after the update started to roll out. The May core update started on May 4th and ended on May 18th. So that is a full two weeks, although like I said, most people noticed the impact very early on.

So keep an eye on it!

Timing The Core Update

The previous core update was 7 months ago on May 4, 2020, the May 2020 core update. The one prior to that was on January 13, 2020, the January 2020 core update and the one before that was on September 24, 2019, the September 2019 core update. Oh, before that was on June 3, 2019, the June 2019 core update and I can go on and on.

The fun thing is that SEOs have been bracing themselves for this update since August. So instead of getting about four of these updates each year, in 2020 we had three - I mean, it makes sense, it is #2020. I mean, Google had its share of search bugs this year.

Many are surprised Google released the update now, before the holidays. But it is after Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping, so my gut feeling was they would release it in early December because late December everyone is off at Google. I was just talking about this with someone a couple of days ago that my gut feeling was Google would release an update soon before the end of the year. Of course, if a business got hit by this right before the holidays, that will make for one sad holiday season for that family.

As Marie Haynes notes that in 2013 Google's Matt Cutts said the company tries to minimize updates before the holidays. In mid December, Google took a Panda update holiday break in 2011.

At WebmasterWorld Brett Tabke, the founder of WebmasterWorld, wrote "Google does it again. Releasing an update during Cyber week - during a pandemic - during the holidays when people are just trying to survive. It is clear, the only result will be Google increases their bottom line - takes more SERP share, and has no more care or concern how many people lose their jobs."

But at the same time, sites hit by the May 2020 core update have been waiting to see a reversal and waiting a long time:

Brett wants to be clear:

Yet, Google did pre-announce this core update before it started rolling out. But maybe the tremors and fluctuations we saw December 1st, 2nd and 3rd was Google testing this rollout? I know many SEOs wanted an update since March but timing it is complicated, espesially this late into the year.

What SEOs Are Seeing

So what are SEOs seeing with this update so far and keep in mind, it is super early. The chatter at WebmasterWorld, Black Hat World, and Google Webmaster Help since yesterday afternoon says this:

Got hit in May and never recovered. First signals of this new core update are bad: traffic started decreasing 2 days before the announce, -30% right now compared to last week.

Had a surge in traffic yesterday afternoon and this morning...and now it's dead again.

With about 30 minutes to go in my Google day my US traffic is down just over 36%.

I'm not seeing much of anything yet today by 5pm EST. I saw traffic plunge in the last two days though, and today back to normal and only down 7%, which will probably be made up by end of day. USA and UK traffic are both up, while Australia is down 81% and Germany down 56%. Perhaps Google is reporting updates after the fact now.

So far: 60% down on one site, 30% down on another, and a third site is holding up. The rest are too small to figure out the impact.

Just as I had recovered from May too...

Obviously, I'll be watching over the next two weeks to get the full impact.

6% down on SERP and 24% down on traffic!

I've just woken and checked my traffic for through the night. Its taken a terrible nose dive.

So just checked the serps and my rankings have been hammered.

This is honestly the last thing I need now.

If these rankings don't bounce back I think this is the end of my SEO journey.

Huge gains for me on 9 year old white/greyhat site, basically rankings are returning to pre-May Core update 2020 positions, where I lost 60% of traffic (gradual decline over the months). After May update I did analysis and came with a conclusion that three different things might influence such a drop - freshness, FID/CLS and https (yeah, my site still on http :)). Decided to go with content update /improved on-site SEO (basically made it better than my competitors), fixed technical SEO issues (CLS is now 0 and site loads in 0.7 seconds on desktop, a bit more on mobile), and left http as-is, which is basically my ace in the sleeve for further ranking gains, together with CDN (for 90% of keywords my site is only one on http ranking on first page of Google :p). No link building whatsoever, only few organic ones.

in my case I have seen traffic drop 1 day (around 24 hours before the update was announced) traffic down by aprox 15-20% on most of my sites

I just saw a huge spike of 33% on the average position of about 120 keywords on my main site. Not gonna start being happy yet but still a nice sight. Pretty blackhat on the links side but with perfect content.

Hello, I noticed the movements already. In the May update, I lost 30-40% of traffic and now I see that positions that I had in May are coming back from Today.

Few of my sites that were affected in the previous core update are now fixed. Happy with the results.

Im seeing some positive movement in the SERPs.... major keywords that have irrationally dropped over the last few weeks are suddenly starting to go back to where they belong. It hasn't translated into more traffic yet though.

Beginning at 6pm EST, started seeing very dramatic movements across many of my sites. Both sharp increases and decreases. Law and government vertical. Going to have some restless nights ahead as the dust settles.. Let's hope the little fish get thrown a bone with this one. Best of lucky boys and girls.

It's 9pm EST and my traffic was normal today...USA up 17% so far, Canada up 56%, UK up 5%, Australia down 38%. Overall traffic is even today, after two days of big drops in traffic. My top 3 / top 10 placement is very slowly climbing. Conversions are non-existent. It's not going to be a strong end to the year for sales.

Traffic spike up to about 45% of what it was before may 2019. 15 mins and counting.

I'm not celebrating yet, since they let this bugged update stay live for over half a year and let spam run rampant. I have lost faith. Google needs to be regulated.

Traffic started increasing 5h ago to abnormal levels. Traffic seems to continue to rise steadily.

I hope we reach levels of before the may disaster, but I doubt it as the SERPS still look spammy as all hell.

Roughly down 20%~30% so far. This hour looking to be -40%. First started seeing changes starting at 7:00 pm pst. Hurting

So far recovered from 10% pre-may with a steady down trend to what seems about 40% pre-may.

Recovery seems to continue.

I suspect this is the spam patch, since the same people that were not seeing any spam in their niches are not seeing any changes either.

May Update took 6h to roll out completely for me... by this metric the update should be done now. However, my traffic continued to slowly drain over the last 7 months, so there may be some long-term component to this. I would not mind some long-term growth this time.

Maybe rank less spam over time this time Google, not more!

Wow, I've been hit hard on this one, I wouldn't mind so much but the 7 sites that have today been placed above me score well below me on all lighthouse metrics,

I am already seen a major drops in rankings for my website. I see other sites are ranking well even with no latest content quality. Lets wait for it to settle down.

My sites just dropped like a bomb. From the second page now im on 8th or 10th place for some keywords

As you look through the posts, the more time you let pass, the more serious this update becomes. So yes, it does appear to be rolling out and this, like other core updates, can be huge for sites. Some are seeing over 30% gains or decreases, some even way more!

Here are some tweets:

Search Tracking Tools Show

Here are the tracking tools are showing, keep in mind, there was a lot of movement the previous few days as well. I'll try to update these charts later on in the day as some tools will update after I publish this. But so far, as of this morning, most of the tools are spiking like it was a core update.


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Advanced Web Rankings:

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Cognitive SEO:

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We will keep an eye on it but let us know how you did with this update.

Forum discussion at Twitter, Google Webmaster Help and WebmasterWorld, Black Hat World.


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