Was Your Site Affected by Google’s December Update?

Once again, Google have updated the way they rank websites.

They do this every month with small tweaks that you may not even notice, but a few times a year they make large updates. These are the ones you should definitely pay attention to.

May was the previous Core Update which was pretty big, and December seems to be considered as even bigger; affected even more websites.

There have been criticisms about this update affecting sites when stability is imperative through the holidays for businesses who are already suffering.

Google doesn’t care. Google only cares about Google.

Their only concern is whether the best websites are showing up before others.

Who was affected?

Usually, the most affected are financial and medical sites as they’re the most important to get right.

As you can see though, plenty of other categories are doing very well from a rankings increase.

Categories that increased in rankings from the update (©SearchEngineJournal)

Websites that lost out were an interesting array where ‘Science & Education’ is a possible red herring, as these sites are very important.

Categories that lost rankings (©SearchEngineJournal)

Now we can see some individual sites that seemed to lose out the most, and I can imagine a lot of independent shops are glad about the first one.

Websites that lost out from the update (©SearchEngineJournal)

Surprise, surprise, the website that gained the most from the update was Google’s very own YouTube. A large helping of favouritism going on there!

What was interesting about this update is that the Quality Raters (see below for definition) called out dictionaries and encyclopedias for not giving them what they wanted. Lo and behold, they’re all hit pretty hard by this update.

What’s changed?

This update was still based around EAT, but Google’s Quality Raters played a big part here too.


EAT is the acronym for Expertise, Authority, and Trust. If you do well for each of those then you’ll be rewarded handsomely.

Quality Raters

These are thousands of people around the world who are feeding back information on whether websites have delivered what they needed.

While they can’t influence the fate of specific websites, their collective views will alter the landscape dramatically.

How to tell if you were affected

The online auditing and tracking software SEMrush is great for this.

Just sign up for free and go to the Position Tracking page where you’ll be able to track all of the pages across your whole site.

December Google Core Update drop in rankings
A drop in rankings for a website after the update on 4th

As you can see from the screenshot above, this particular site has decreased in rankings on 4th December which is just one day after Google made the announcement. Since that day it hasn’t recovered.

Major updates like this from Google usually take around two weeks to finish, so only time will tell whether it has been negatively impacted, but it doesn’t look good so far.

Once you’ve had a look to see if you were affected or not, you can head over to the Site Audit where it will let you know what you should fix in time for the next update.


These Core Updates usually make website owners run for their lives, but it’s also a chance for those who have been working hard to finally be rewarded for their efforts.

Keep creating content on a regular basis about specific topics and sub-topics with an aim to be as helpful as you can.

All visitors are looking for precise, relevant information, not just the Quality Raters.

More information about this update can be found on the Update Tracker.

How do you feel about this latest update? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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