The Google update has been a hot topic throughout 2020. We have seen a couple of updates since the start of the year with the first one occurring in January and the second taking place at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. The Google update 2020 to the algorithm has had a significant effect on how content ranks on Google using search engine optimisation (SEO).

You may be wondering what a Google update is! A Google update is a change affecting how rankings are calculated by the Google search engine. Some Google updates involve major changes to Google’s algorithm and some updates may apply filters to refresh the data on which the algorithm runs. These core updates are designed to produce noticeable effects across all search results worldwide. Inevitably, different websites may notice a rise or fall in search ranking off the back of a core update. The changes in search rankings are more or less a reflection of how relevant content is, which means that if a specific type of content has become more relevant since the last update, then it will move higher up in rankings. Overall, the main goal of a Google update is to improve the quality and relevance of search results.

As a digital marketing agency London, we know a thing or two about SEO and how to adapt to these Google updates, so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need a helping hand.

January 2020

The first Google update of 2020 started right at the beginning of the year dubbed “The January Core Update”. The Google update in January provided a sweeping reevaluation of preferential content; boosting new favourable content over what was previously favourable. In other words, what used to be popular back in 2019 may have not been the case in early 2020. Newly released content could be more popular and so that would rank higher.

But what did this mean for SEO? Some pages saw drops in their search engine rankings, not because there was anything wrong with the content nor were they being penalised by the algorithm, but because their content was not as relevant as it was previously after being evaluated against the new content which has been published since the update. It was important to pay a close eye to how rankings performed to realign content in order to stay at the top of rankings. 

May 2020

The second Google update 2020 took place at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic when the vast majority of countries worldwide were under lockdown. There were some significant shifts in user behaviour after the coronavirus was declared the COVID-19 pandemic and this was reflected in the May Google update. COVID-19 changed what people needed from Google’s search engine results; as either a source of crucial health information or as a place for offering services online. 

There were many things gaining relevance which were never as relevant before and vice versa; pre-lockdown content was now less popular. For example; content relating to travel, entertainment and tourism went from being the hot topics to becoming the least relevant. The biggest challenge for Google was catching up with the new COVID world.

The May Google update 2020 revealed Google’s improvement in understanding what it is that a searcher is looking for and surfacing websites that have the best answer to it more effectively through search engine optimisation. Content which improved in rankings had an element of first hand expertise on a topic and smaller websites which were not seen as giant authorities in their verticals saw improvements.   

December 2020?

On December 3rd, Google confirmed the rollout of another core update to end the year. SEOs had been bracing for this google update 2020 since August however many were surprised Google released its update so close to the end of the year and the holiday season. The full effects of this latest update on SEO are yet to be felt as the dust is still settling however this update appears to have the ‘teeth of a true Google broad core update’ with numerous sites seeing huge wins or huge losses as the update began its rollout. 

Google updates do keep SEOs on their toes, but that can be part of the fun… right? Staying on top of search engine optimisation after a Google update can help improve your content, help you stay relevant and keep your business ahead of competitors, giving you the advantage to thrive online. 

If you liked this article on Google updates and its effect on SEO, then check out our 3 Step Guide to local SEO or better yet, sign up for Monumental’s SEO Course for a Masterclass on all things SEO.


  • Alicia, the digital marketing dynamo herself, is our digital marketing Manager at Monumental. We are yet to find something our Indonesian-Belgian princess can't do. Prior to discovering Monumental, Alicia finished an honours degree in Sociology at the University of Kent and began building her marketing network in the Middle East. Having graced us with her stunning social channel aesthetics and unrivalled powers of Influencer marketing and SEO for several years now, it's no wonder she's giving us that side-eye.