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Seeing the Impact: Visuals from the January Google Core Algorithm Update

24 Jan 2020 John Morabito

in SEO

On January 13th, 2020 Google announced that—later that same day—they would release a broad core algorithm update. As a reminder, Google algorithm updates seek to improve user experience, but can drastically change website rankings overnight. While these updates happen several times annually, this one seems bigger and more significant than other, recent updates. When an update like this occurs, Google reminds website owners that the search engine is looking to improve a collection of things about a website, rather than just one element. Quite frequently, we help our clients to find answers to site improvements through analyzing their website against the Google Search Quality Evaluators GuidelinesAs algorithm updates are a complex issue, in this blog post I’ll offer a few charts so that the difference that the updates can have—immediately—on the organic traffic of a website is easier to visualize.

While Google releases hundreds of updates to its algorithms each month, this update seems to be a big one; many of our colleagues within the SEO community have reported substantial swings in organic traffic as a result of the update. The charts below show the volatility of the search results: the higher the score, the more the results changed, on average, during the update. But Google Algorithm updates are not all bad; several of our clients saw fantastic gains following the site quality improvements that we helped them implement. That said, while we did see some volatility for a few of our client sites in the e-commerce space, the biggest shifts appear to have occurred in other categories.


For example, arts and entertainment experienced intense swings; this may indicate that some publishers are losing steam.


Another example are ISP and Telecom sites, which saw huge swings in traffic.


Now, remembering what the large swings in traffic look like, consider the below chart. Recognize that the effect of the algorithm on e-commerce shopping websites was less prominent:


Interested in understanding if your brand’s website was impacted by the update? We would be happy to tell you whether we think it was or not. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a free algorithm impact analysis.