All year round – 2020, Google has been busy working on search ranking algorithm changes. The year 2020 will be always remembered as the year when the world slowed down but businesses thought of new and improved means to reach out to people. From core updates to machine learning, and Google Experience update – the year 2020 was not at all slow for Google.
Google Core Updates
January 2020: The January 2020 core update started to roll out on the 13th of January 2020. The January core update was a major one and had a big impact on a lot of sites. Google also said that most of the updates take around 2 weeks to completely roll out, but this update was done by 16th January.
May 2020: Even though the pandemic, Google was successful in rolling out a core update in May. This core update was released on 4th May 2020. It took around 2 weeks to roll out. This update was bigger than the January update.
December 2020: On 3rd Dec 2020, Google released another major core update right after the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping season. It is understood that this core update was bigger than any of the previous updates in the year.
Until 2019, Google BERT was available only for 10% of the queries. That changes in 2020 where it is used for almost 100% of all the English Language search queries. BERT has helped improve search results by 7%.
In 2020, Google also introduced passage indexing. This helps Google zone into specific passages of content on a page and rank those parts of the pages in Google search. This will help pages that are not well optimized for search, Google said. Google said that the indexing has not changes, just how the content will be ranked. Passage indexing will affect around 7% of the search queries across all languages.
Google Page Experience update
In May, Google also announced the Google Page Experience Update. This included a new set of ranking factors that include some old signals such as mobile-friendly update, Page Speed Update, HTTPS ranking boost, intrusive interstitials penalty and safe browsing penalty. Some of the new signals were in the form of Google’s new core vitals.
Core web vitals include metrics such as first input delay (FID), and cumulative layout shift and largest contentful paint (LCP). After this is live in May 2021, Google will no longer only serve AMP pages in the Top Stories carousel, but also pages that do well with these scores. The new page experience update will only be applied to mobile rankings, not desktop rankings.
2020 also saw a lot of other algorithm updates, tweaks and bug fixes. There were plenty of unconfirmed Google Algorithm updates, some that were big and some small. Last year, Google also confirmed a bug related to local search that Google confirmed.
Some other advancements in the Google Algorithm include:
Google had been busy for the entire year 2020 and looking forward to a very busy 2021 too!