Google January 2021 Core Updates - Semalt Shares News

We are in a new year with brand new opportunities to set new goals and plan for a better year. Google has its plans to serve its users better. What that means for website owners and managers is that there are some new rules we need to play by. 

In several of our articles in 2020, we spoke of significant changes coming to Google's search algorithm and how we can stay updated to ensure we do not lose ranking. 

In December 2020, about five search marketers shared their opinions on what SERP would be linked in the coming months. Their observations offered interesting feedback on what we should expect in 2021. 

Semalt believes that Google's updates are not as interested in ranking factors as they used to be. We have noticed a shift, and we think that Google is more focused on improving how queries and webpages are understood. Since Google won't say exactly what their algorithm updates are for, all we can do is speculate. 

What are the rumors concerning 2021 core updates?

Several other SEO experts have suggested that Google may be randomizing search results to fool those trying to reverse engineer Google's algorithm. Now that isn't something we subscribe to. On its own, Google has certain algorithm features that are hard to detect in search results. That makes it difficult to pick out a search result and give an accurate explanation of the algorithm used to bring up such results. There is no way to say a web page ranked because of the BERT algorithm or Neural Matching. 

It is easy to say that backlinks, E-A-T, or User Experience is why a site is or isn't ranking because we know that these factors influence SERP. On the other hand, the actual reason might be more related to BERT. This makes understanding SERP extremely difficult and random to those who want to get an insider to secrete on SERP and looking for old school factors to explain why pages aren't ranking or have lost their rank after an update. 

Yes, Google updates may seem inscrutable. The reason why web pages have witnessed dramatic changes in their rank over the past few years is because of technologies like Natural Language Processing. 

What if we all don't realize the effect of Google's updates

It has happened in the past that Google changed or updated something, and no one in the SEO community noticed. As strange as it might sound, it's very true. For example, when Google initially added an algorithm like BERT to their system, many SEO experts didn't have a clue on what had changed. Now imagine if Google added something like the SMITH algorithm; how can the SEO community detect that?  

Many experts first discovered the new algorithm in a Google Research paper published in April 2020, which was later revised in October 2020. It was then that many figured out that Google had launched an algorithm that makes it easier to understand longer pages of content. 

What that means is that the 2021 core updates will contain the qualities of seamlessly non-observable changes. 

If Google decides to add a new ai based feature or update an already existing feature, the search marketing community may not detect such changes until Google comes out to announce them. And it is because of the "non-observable" characteristic of Google's updates that may indicate the new way Google understands web queries and web pages. 

All of this has been to make you understand why it is so difficult to get around Google. If you do not know what they are searching for, there is no way for you to disguise a website. So instead of spinning the wheels on the usual ranking factors, consider that a page has lost its ranking status because of something more than the ranking factors we are used to have changed. 

Insights into Google 2021 core updates

Since the year is just beginning, most of the updates for January were carried on from last year, and so they still bear significant relevance to the subject. 

The December 2020 core update was a special one to watch. Many of the sites we worked with started with losses, but we could turn things around, and they ended up with wins. The update had something to do with signal(s) that cascade. Let us explain better. Because of the coronavirus, there was a drastic change to how companies, as well as websites, operated. These changes caused a particular result, but once a new calculation was worked its way through the system, it produced a different result. Think of it as PageRank recalculation. Although this one likely had nothing to do with PageRank. 

Let's consider the timing factor and how it ties to introducing passage indexing. We will realize that it links directly to the content interpretation systems and not the links or signals across that line. 

We also know that this sets the foundation for the Core Web Vitals that will enter the algorithm in May 2021. As far as general community reaction is concerned, this is one algorithm that has been difficult to gauge past. This was expected because while it was a disadvantage to some, it profited others. 

What to expect in January 2021

We have varying opinions on what will happen in Google's core algorithm updates. However, most experts are of the opinion that there will be no clear factors or changes that will stand out. This is an interesting discovery because it could indirectly be linked to a core update in the form of AI or Natural Language Processing. If you remember, we mentioned this at the beginning. However, these are all just speculations and nothing concrete.

Recently, Google announced the integration of the Core Web Vitals with its existing pages, and these updates will take effect from January 21, 2021. The question on everyone's mind is, what does this mean for websites and SEO? 

Understanding Google's Core Web Vitals

Web vitals is a metrics by Google to provide its users with a better experience on the internet by simplifying the metrics it uses to measure engagement or Core Web Vitals. This new search report is similar to the traditional speed report. What's different with this new metrics is that it includes some improved metrics such as:
  • First Input Delay: this measures the users' interactivity.
  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): it is used to measure loading performance.
  • Сumulative layout shift (CLS): this measures the visual stability.
Google went a step further by merging its core web vitals with the existing page experience signal, which is already used for ranking. Using these two metrics combined gives a more accurate measurement of both the users' experience and the existing search signals. We are referring to the mobile-friendliness, intrusive interstitial guidelines, HTTPS, and safe-browsing. 

By evaluating everything on a page basis, it becomes easier for you to have an improved page experience, which will help Google rank your content better on SERP. What this means is that having the best possible page experience makes your website stand out, and Google will read such websites by giving them a couple more ranking points. 

Another part of this change is that Google will use the Core Web Vitals metric to access eligibility for which pages are featured in its Top stories on Mobile search. Before now, the emphasis for this selection has been Accelerated Mobile Page, but CVW removes the requirement to have AMP versions of your page. Now, this doesn't mean we abandon AMP. We still optimize websites for mobile devices, but instead, it means that Google isn't as concerned with it as it was in the past. 


Drilling into the details or codes for these updates might not be something you're conversant with. If you would like professional help, we will be happy to do it for you. Over at Semalt, we have a wonderful team of professionals who are certified in Google Analytics and our UX experts. We will ensure that your website comes out amazing with no technical issues that affect your SEO and customer conversions. 

As Google continue to release new updates, it is important you have professionals constantly analyzing your website and updating it in line with Google's core updates. Our experts will ensure that you enjoy the best user experience, which increases your conversions once your buyers are on the site. 

You can start your website redevelopment with a usability makeover, and we will help your business with all its SEO needs. Our deep UX understanding ensures you stay in the graces of Google. Contact our customer care today. We would love to talk to get in touch with you and see how we can take your site to work with you and making your site great.