Google’s third core update for 2020, the December 2020 Core Update is their latest board core algorithm update which unsurprisingly resulted in a widespread decline of SEO search rankings and analytics for countless websites. Websites were indiscriminately affected by the recent updates Google made to its search ranking algorithm.
What can site owners do to bolster search rankings after witnessing drastic declines? Here’s some advice from the industry’s top SEO experts to help website owners improve performance in 2021.
Tom Danny Pedersen
Tom is a Senior Partner and Analyst who has carried out numerous jobs on SEO in Norway and optimization of websites globally and also runs www.websupporten.no as a resource to the Norwegian SEO market. He says: “Companies seek growth and stability even in uncertain times. In understanding all the latest Google updates, we had a key ingredient to become one of the biggest suppliers of these services. The online market has completely altered how we work, and there are so many companies out there right now, in need of help to get out there and into the spotlight. Not even to mention to make their sites perform better and at ultimate speeds. They need to be seen and that’s what we do. Visibility at it’s best, we want to enable companies to become owners of their future”.
Barry Swartz is a well known SEO expert who frequently writes about search engines, search marketing and SEO and SEM-related topics as the co-founder and current Editor of Search Engine Roundtable and Contributing Editor of Search Engine Land. Very recently, Swartz published an article on Search Engine Land in which he outlined the details of Google’s December 2020 Core Update and what people can do to improve their site’s search rankings. According to Swartz, sites hit by the update cannot exactly follow certain steps to recover from negative search ranking results, a decline does not necessarily signal that a website needs fixing. This is why Swartz referenced Google’s advice, and similarly stressed that sites focus on providing the best web content they possibly can in terms of quality and quantity.
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Danny Sullivan is also a long-time SEO and search engine marketing expert. From 1996 to 2017 Sullivan was an analytical journalist, the co-founder of Third Door Media and its Chief Content Editor. After retiring as a journalist in 2017, he took up the position as Google’s Public Liaison of Search and now assists website owners better understand Google’s ranking factors. According to Sullivan, longer content is not always better than high-quality content of shorter lengths; quality content remains a significant ranking factor while content length has little to no bearing on search rankings. Sullivan has on numerous occasions stressed this point when responding to concerns regarding sudden declines in search rankings in light of Google’s recent core update.
For the last thirteen years John Mueler has held one of Google’s foremost positions as a Webmaster Trends Analyst. In discussing Google’s core algorithm updates, Mueler explained that the updates are complex, each update is like changing one cog in a system that changes how the system operates as a whole. An update may not necessarily affect a site’s search rankings but it can affect the principles that form the basis of how web pages are re-indexed. This is why Mueler believes the top priority of SEO should be the quality of published content and its relevance to the topic on which the external link is published. Mueler says people shouldn’t concern themselves with Google’s minor updates but should instead focus on major updates only. His company, Google, has its own SEO starter guide.
Vanessa Fox is a SEO consultant and author of Marketing in the Age of Google and Your Online Strategy IS Your Business Strategy. Fox joined Google in 2005 as a technical writer and in later years went on to create Google’s portal for site owners, Google Webmaster Central. Fox says site owners should tackle impactful issues first and diligently lay the groundwork to ensure new infrastructure and webpages are search-friendly from the start. Fox also advises website owners to steer clear from SEO consultancy firms that promise instantaneous results and improvements for sites hit hard by Google’s core updates. Due to the complexity of Google’s core updates and the consequences for SEO rankings, it’s important to be weary of SEO consultancy firms who offer simple and instantaneous solutions.
As the founder of SEOmoz and Sparktoro, Rand Fishkin is one of the most renowned and outspoken SEO experts in the industry. Putting aside the effects of Google’s core updates on SEO and search rankings, Fishkin highlights an increasing amount of factors (webspam, keywords, content, localization, speed, press and PR, etc.) that directly and indirectly affect SEO. He believes that influencing these factors is how sites can achieve high search rankings regardless of whether they were negatively affected by Google’s December 2020 Core Update. One way of doing this is building relationships in order to earn links. The old model of building links is a thing of the past. Backlinking is still important, but Google has shifted its approach to counting links that are editorially earned with more significance, which is why Fishkin advises sites to build relationships to earn links as a way to improve overall SEO performance and search rankings.
The advice for 2021 from these top industry experts is clear – to improve SEO and search ranking performance sites need to focus on providing quality content, solid infrastructure and building editorial links.