Last week saw Google release their latest broad core algorithm update, known as the December 2020 core update. We have noted the update being rolled out on December 3, although it will not be completely launched before the next couple of weeks. With this in consideration, we will be sharing a few things you need to know about the latest Google update.

What is a Broad Core Algorithm update?

To guarantee that search results are always relevant to search queries, Google has built a complex system of algorithms that organises pages in the search results according to their relevance to a specific search query. This means that, ideally the first page in the search results will also be the most relevant to the query.

Google updates are released to improve algorithms and make them more accurate when matching search queries with results, with the ultimate goal of providing the best user experience posible.

Whilst smaller updates are usually implemented quite regularly (sometimes more than once a day), Broad Core Algorithms are far more dramatic, and often released a few times each year. This also means that the Broad Core Algorithms have a greater impact on rankings across a large number of websites.

Google December 2020 early indicators

While it is yet too soon to know the true impact of this update on websites ranking performance, early indicators suggest that the impact will be quite a significant one.

According to the SEMrush Sensor, who monitors daily shifts in rankings volatility, Dec 4th was critical and saw severe shifts on Google Search results. The volatility score peaked at 9.4, becoming the highest volatility score of the year, far higher than the previous core update launched in May 2020.

What this means is that on that day, the sensor saw ranking positions shifting significantly across a large number of websites. Some websites might have seen their rankings going up while others saw massive drops, without any apparent reason for that to happen.

Top 5 affected industries:

Whilst severe changes were seen across all industries, some were more affected than others. According to SEMrush, Real Estate, Health, Books & Literature, Travel and Science are amongst the most affected industries. Sports and News industries on the other hand, were the least affected.

What should I do if I see a drop in rankings?

Considering we are currently still within the early stages of the update being rolled out, it is still too soon to access what exactly has made the rankings to shift. We may not even get to know what exactly can be done to counter it.

Google’s general rule of thumb for core updates is to avoid making rushed decisions to resolve the website in response, since a change in rankings may not be due to something that needed to be resolved in the first place.

Recommendations provided by the search engine is for website owner’s to “focus on ensuring you’re offering the best content you can. That’s what our algorithms seek to reward.”


As mentioned in my previous blog discussing the impact of EAT on SEO, Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines provide a good insight on a number of factors that Google considers to be critical for quality page content. Following these guidelines is the most efficient way of guaranteeing top ranking positions.


Polaris is an award-winning B2B SEO agency in London specialising B2B, PPC, e-commerce and the healthcare industry.

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