On December 3, Google rolled out a new core update. Apparently, this latest update is a big one. In previous core updates, there have been specific focuses and changes made but, unfortunately, this update is not so clear. Therefore, digital marketers are looking to Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines (QRG) to find some clues.
What Are Quality Rater Guidelines?
Before we jump into the update, let’s cover what the guidelines entail. These guidelines cover three main areas:
- Expertise, trustworthiness, authoritativeness – The rater assesses your page based on these factors
- Needs met – This refers to how relevant your page is to the query
- Page quality – High page quality includes mobile friendliness, no misleading/clickbait titles, and no obtrusive ads
The December Core Update
Because there is no apparent focus on the December core update, industry leaders have looked at wins and losses on certain sites to see how they have been affected. What they have seen is that Google’s change helped display more relevant results. The question to uncover is why, or how?
In the case of this core update, we are left speculating as to what Google has adjusted, but we are continuing to investigate patterns.
A few patterns seen include:
- Making changes to how Google assesses alternative medical topics – Many alternative medical websites have seen great improvements with this update. This implies that Google updated how trustworthy they deem some sites to be.
- Paying more attention to headings and content structures – Websites that have done well with this update have many good uses of their headings. These headings were descriptive and relevant to the page.
- Surfacing more content that is relevant to the query – Most websites that contained relevant keywords jumped due to Google surfacing content that will answer the searcher’s question.
With these patterns in mind, here are a few recommendations for your website:
- Pay attention to the Quality Rater Guidelines
- Make your company and objectives clear and known to Google
- Look at your keyword rankings and compare to the rankings of your competitors
- Include descriptive and keyword-focused headings
- Make sure all content on your website is trustworthy and written with authority
More Opinions on the Core Update
Due to the broad nature of this update, we looked at what other thought leaders had to say about the changes they saw and what they thought Google’s focus might have been.
Here are a series of industry leaders’ opinions on the update!
Dave Davies noticed that many sites started with losses and ended with wins, or vice versa. He notes that when one change caused a certain result before, it would now produce a different one. Davies thinks that many people are claiming that the update is “big” is because their websites are drastically losing or winning. As the 2021 year rolls out, we will have more information to tell if he is right.
Cristoph Cemper believes this update is based on changes to a variety of aspects. Cemper thinks that Google is adjusting:
- Weight ratios of different types of links and their signals
- Answer boxes, by adding more
- Mass devaluation PBN link networks
CEO of SEO Theory, Michael Martinez, shares that he thinks Google rewrote numerous quality policy enforcement algorithms. Martinez explains how he’s seen some sites maintain their status quo, while others have gone up or down. The update strikes him as maybe being about different approaches in resolving queries.
Daniel Cheung advises that everyone look at the update from a larger perspective and as part of a continuum of ongoing improvements made to the SERP. In his opinion, he thinks that core updates are becoming less about targeting a specific practice and more so an opportunity for the algorithm to evolve.
Learn More About the Other Google Updates
For more insight on the world of Google, be sure to check out some of our blog posts on recent changes.
Here are a few!