The Jan 2020 core update started rolling out on 14 Jan and Google tweeted on the 16th that it was “mostly done”.
It was big
The general consensus seems to be that this was a big update. Algaroo shows large fluctuations in the affected period, before returning to normal levels on the 18th.
The high volatility compared for example to the October Bert update, can be clearly seen.
YMYL sites affected
Rank Ranger reported “extreme levels of rank volatility on both desktop and mobile”:
adding that “Per a data analysis, and consistent with almost all other core updates to this point, Your Money Your Life niches were significantly impacted, more so than other industries (as can be seen in the below graph)”:
Johannes Beus of Sistrix also highlighted YMYL sites, with sites previously affected being more likely to be affected again:
“Google remains on the same path with this core update: Domains that relate to YMYL (Your Money, Your Life) topics have been re-evaluated by the search algorithm and gain or lose visibility as a whole. Domains that have previously been affected by such updates are more likely to be affected again. The absolute fluctuations appear to be decreasing with each update – Google is now becoming more certain of its assessment and does not deviate as much from the previous assessment.”
Johannes Beus said these core updates are Google adjusting its trust in entire domains based on machine learning, meaning sectors such as health and finance are proportionally more affected. “With the last Core Update, Google widened the circle of affected domains and the trend continues.”
Gains and losses reported by Sistrix showed a range of sectors and content types beyond YMYL, with the losers including 4 from the car buyer sector.
What should you do?
The Jan 2020 update does appear to have been a big one and you should check your rankings to see how you or your clients are affected.
Google last year issued advice on what to do if your site has been negatively impacted by a core update. It says there may be nothing wrong with your site and warns against correcting the wrong thing. However, the advice includes a useful list of questions to consider, if your site has been affected.